Samuel Bixler

 

Henry Clay (April 12, 1777 to June 29, 1852), in his era, was thought of as one of the leading conservatives in America. His ideas for moving America forward included the modernization of America, improving and increasing industrial production, and having a strong banking system. It is evident that Henry Clay was well admired by Samuel Sr. and Lydia Bixler, because they named their first son Samuel Henry Clay Bixler. He was born on January 25, 1845 in Mt. Rock, Mifflin County, PA. Samuel Sr. was from Lancaster, PA and Lydia Wolf from Waynesboro, PA. The Bixler family was living in West Pennsboro Township in Cumberland County, during the 1850 U.S. Census. Samuel Sr. was a school teacher and his real estate was worth $600. Samuel H. C. was five years old, the eldest of three children at that time. Mary was three and Jacob was two months old.

 

In 1860, the Bixlers were still living in West Pennsboro Township and their family had grown by four children. In addition to Samuel, Mary, and Jacob, there was John (6), Anna (4), James (2), and Walbert, one month old. Mr. Bixler continued teaching in a “common school.” The Bixler personal estate was worth $100 and their real estate was $600.

 

A little over a year after the Civil War broke out, Samuel H. C. Bixler enrolled on August 8, 1862, at Newville, PA, in Co. E, 130th PA Infantry. He was mustered in on August 12, 1862 as a private, at Harrisburg, PA. The 130th fought at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. He was absent at muster out on May 21, 1863, due to a gunshot wound to his right side, most likely received at the Battle of Chancellorsville. On September 28, 1863, Samuel applied for his pension, due to the gunshot wound, as noted on the 1890 Veterans’ Special Schedule.

 

Samuel, again, decided to enlist and was mustered into Co. D, 187th PA Infantry on June 29, 1864 and was mustered out, with the company, on August 3, 1865. The records noted that he was a “Vet.” If Samuel made it to the location of his regiment, within five days of being mustered in, he would have arrived after the end of the first Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road (aka Battle of Weldon Railroad – June 21 – 24, 1864) and would have been present, 150 years ago, on July 4th, 1864, when the Union fired a salute of 200 guns toward the Confederate forces, which reciprocated with an equal volley of gunfire. The bands on both sides played a repertoire of patriotic songs, recognizing and acknowledging the one thing they all had in common, the birthday of America.

 

Samuel and his regiment were engaged in the siege on Petersburg and fought in the Battle of the Crater (Mine Explosion), July 30, 1864. From August 18 to 21, he fought in the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad). On September 22, the regiment was relieved and sent to Philadelphia, where the men performed garrison and escort duties at Camp Cadwallader, Philadelphia, PA. Reports of the regiment say that time was used on drill practice, which earned the regiment the honor of being at the head of President Lincoln’s funeral procession from the Baltimore Depot in Philadelphia to Independence Hall. The 187th PA Infantry Regiment was appointed “Guard of Honor” to watch over Lincoln’s body, as it lay in state. Along with Philadelphia’s First City Troop Cavalry, the 187th escorted Lincoln’s remains to the New York Depot. The First City Troop Cavalry, all volunteer from the Revolutionary War forward, is the oldest U.S. military unit, except for the Ancient Artillerists of Boston.

 

On May 11, 1864, the various companies were detached, throughout the state, for guard and provost duties. On August 3, all the companies in the 187th PA Regiment gathered in Harrisburg, where all the men were discharged from their last duty in the Civil War.

 

According to the book Medical Men of Franklin County 1750 to 1925, Samuel H. C. Bixler graduated from the University of Michigan, in 1870 with a medical doctorate degree. On August 2, 1870, he was enumerated on the U.S. Census while staying with his parents and siblings, who were living in the East Ward of Carlisle. By 1870, Sam’s father was 57 and his occupation was “Clerk of Court.” His and Lydia’s (48) estate was valued at $800 while their personal estate was worth $3,000. Samuel H. C.’s brother Jacob, who would have been 20, was not living in the household and their brother Walbert, who was one month old during the 1860 census, was not listed in the household. Their other siblings – Mary E. (22), John (17), Anna H. (14), and James (12) were still living with their parents. Two more children were born between 1860 and 1870 – Helen (10) and Blanche (6). At 24 years of age, Samuel H. C. Bixler’s profession was “Physician.”

 

Between August 2, 1870 and the end of the year, Samuel moved to Orrstown, PA where he set up his medical practice. He lived and practiced there for three to four years and then moved to Blosersville, an unincorporated community, in Frankford Township, Cumberland County, PA, where he and his young family were enumerated during the 1880 U.S. Census. Samuel was 35 Samuel and his wife Annie E. Bentz Bixler was 31. They had two children – Minnie Z. (b. 1.9.1877) was seven and Samuel Escupalius (b. 9.25.1878) was one year old. Samuel’s profession was “Physician & Surgeon.” According to Medical Men of Franklin County, Samuel practiced medicine in Blosersville for 10 to 12 years.

 

Sometime before 1890, Samuel and Annie moved to Greencastle, where he was recorded twice on the 1890 Special Schedule for Civil War Veterans, once for his service in Co. E, 130th PA Infantry and, again, for Co. D, 187th PA Infantry. It is from these two records that it was found out that Samuel was wounded in the right side, during the Battle of Chancellorsville.

 

Samuel was a member of the Corp. William H. Rihl GAR Post #438. From January 1895 through December 1898, he served as the chapter’s Surgeon.

 

During the U.S. Census of 1900, the Bixlers lived on the west side of South Carlisle Street. Minnie was 23, Samuel E., 21, and son Clay B. (b. 4.30.1888) was 12 years old. All three of the children were attending school. Samuel and Annie had been married 27 years; they married about 1873. Annie had born four children but their daughter, Annie C., born October 5, 1874, died on July 9, 1876, at one year, nine months, and five days old. Samuel was 55, and as corroborated by Medical Men of Franklin County, he was a druggist and, “… was more interested in the manufacture and sale of proprietary medicines…”

 

Two other physicians were living and practicing on South Carlisle Street, within four dwellings of the Bixlers. They were Drs. Charles Michael McLaughlin (1861 to 1917) and J. Fletcher Nowell (1845 – 1927).

 

In less than five years from the 1900 U.S. Census, Samuel and Annie lost two more of their four children – Minnie Z. on January 16, 1905 at the age of 30 years and seven days, and 14 days later S. Escupalius on January 30, 1905, aged 24 years, four months, and five days.

 

The earliest records, which tracked deaths from influenza and pneumonia, were kept by Massachusetts. Between 1887 and 1910, there were 12 small to moderate outbreaks, with the larger outbreaks occurring in January 1890, December/January 1891 to 1892, January 1899, and March 1900. From January to March 1905, the monthly excess death rate was 13.8. Although small compared to the December 1891 – February 1892 excess death rate of 98.5, the 13.8 was above average. It is likely that there were other “pockets” of influenza, with complications of pneumonia in other areas of the U.S. Also prevalent between 1899 and 1905, were concentrated breakouts of typhoid fever (Harrisburg – 1899, Maine – 1902 and 1903, and Ithaca, NY in 1903) and scarlet fever (Connecticut – 1903, and Charlottesville, VA – 1905).

 

When the April 19, 1910 U.S. Census was recorded in Greencastle, Samuel and Annie lived on East Baltimore Street, and owned their home, free and clear of a mortgage. Their only surviving child Clay Bentz Bixler, 20, was living with them. Samuel, at the age of 65, was still engaged in operating his drug store.

 

Dr. Samuel H. C. Bixler died of Laryngeal Tuberculosis on March 26, 1914, in his home in Greencastle, PA. Before modern-day medications were available for tuberculosis, laryngeal TB developed as a complication of advanced pulmonary TB, and was relatively common. He was buried on March 30, 1914 in Section E, Lot 82, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Antrim Township, Franklin County, PA. Annie E. Bixler applied for Samuel’s pension, on April 15, 1914. There was no mention of Samuel’s death in the minute book of the Corp. Rihl Post. By that time, the aging Civil War veterans were holding fewer and fewer meetings, with longer lengths of time between meetings.

 

The above information was found through the use of Pennsylvania’s scanned death certificates between 1906 and 1944. It’s the first time I’ve had occasion to use the death certificates for one of G-A’s Civil War veterans. If you are a resident of PA, any digitized PA records, are free to you, through Ancestry.com, even if you are not a member of Ancestry. Go to http://phmc.info/ancestrypa and enter your zip code in the box, at the bottom of the page.

 

I cannot find a death certificate for Annie E. Bentz Bixler. There is a death certificate for Samuel’s sister Anna H. Bixler, who died in 1936. In the family burial plot, there is a space beside Samuel for his wife Annie, but there is no footstone. The burial records of Cedar Hill Cemetery may hold the answer. Samuel’s and Annie’s three children, who preceded them in death, are buried alongside Samuel in the family plot.

 

 

 

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