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Headstone of Charles Henderson, USCT

RisingFree

African American History
in South Central
Pennsylvania:
the 19th Century

Midland Cemetery~ 
Gallery of Civil War Burials

Midland Cemetery was recently rescued from neglect by local historian Barbara B. Barksdale, who began the Friends of Midland organization.  That organization is the best source of information on the cemetery.  They can be contacted at the following address:
Friends of Midland, P. O. Box 7442, Steelton, Pennsylvania 17113-0442.

Grave marker of Charles Henderson, Sgt., Company G, 127th USCT.Wording on the Midland Memorial, erected in 1999, notes "Here rest the veterans of the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, II and the Korean War."  Indeed, military gravesites in this small African American cemetery abound, with many of the most noticeable from the Civil War.  A marker in the style of standard War Department issue, with rounded top and Federal shield on the face, stands at the head of the grave of Charles Henderson, a Sergeant in Company G of the 127th United States Colored Troops.  Dates of birth and death are not recorded on the stone.

The government-issue style marker of Charles Henderson, Company G, 127th United States Colored Infantry.  A Charles Henderson is listed in Dauphin County, in "Upper Swatara" Township, in the 1870 census.  Born in about 1841 or 1842 in Maryland, the age would fit this person, making him about 22 years old when he joined the 127th USCT in 1864.  The Steelton Directories for the 1880's do not list a Charles Henderson, however.  This style of marker is the original permanent marker for those who died during the Civil War, adopted in 1873 by Secretary of War William Belknap.  It replaced old frontier-style wooden headboards with rounded tops.  Called the "Civil War type," the first markers, constructed of marble, measured 4 inches thick by 10 inches wide, by 12 inches high (above ground).  This style was redesigned in 1902, to measure 4 inches thick by 12 inches wide by 39 inches high.  This style of marker was originally intended only for known war dead, but in 1879, Congress authorized their use for the unmarked graves of veterans in private cemeteries.  1

Tombstone of Charles Preston, 1837-1887, Private, Company G, 127th USCT.Not far from Henderson's grave is the tombstone of Charles Preston, a private in the same company and regiment.  We know from the inscription on his tombstone that Preston survived the war, dying at the age of 50, in 1887.

Tombstone of Richard Johnson, Co. G., 127th USCT.Most of the veterans' and military graves are marked with American flags, placed by local veterans groups.  Of the Civil War soldiers buried at Midland, several served in the same unit, Company G

Richard Johnson, who died on July 4, 1909 at 63 years of age, also served in the 127th, Company G.  The National Park Service's Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System shows that Johnson was a private in that unit.  His stone sits near the edge of the cemetery, in front of un-cleared brush.  

Johnson died impoverished, and his remains were interred with the help of Peter Blackwell, Lloyd Polton and Charles W. Henderson, who applied to the county for a decent burial for this Civil War veteran.  (Click here to view the completed official form)

Gravestone of Richard Johnson, c1846-1909.

Tombstone of William Jackson, Company H, 45th USCT.A small tombstone, barely large enough to hold the inscription, marks the grave of William Jackson of the 45th USCT.  Jackson, who held the rank of private, was born in 1821, according to his epitaph.  One of four privates in that regiment with that name, this William Jackson served in company H and survived the war, dying in 1892.

William Jackson would have been in his forties when he enlisted to fight in the war.  That he did, and survived not only the fighting, but the rigors of campaigning, and did so at a much older age than many of his comrades, says much about the hardiness of the man buried here.

Dual gravestones mark the burial place of Israel Palmer and William H. Woodburn.  Palmer served as a private in Company G of the United States Colored Infantry, and Woodburn was a corporal in Company D of the 32nd regiment.  Although theGravestones of Israel Palmer, 1825-1885, and William H. Woodburn, 1844-1895. men died ten years apart, the stones are very similar, indicating that they were erected or made by the same persons or organization.

Israel Palmer enlisted as a private, but he must have shown musical talent, because he was listed as a regimental musician when he was mustered out.  Woodburn lived in Steelton at 141 South Front Street, and worked as a foreman in one of the city's numerous industries, according to Boyd's Steelton Directory for 1894, the year before his death.

Israel Palmer was nineteen years older than William H. Woodburn, but both served their country in the war, and are now buried next to each other in the quiet solitude of Midland Cemetery.

Notes:

1.  Information about government supplied grave markers was obtained from the web page "History of Government Furnished Headstones and Markers" by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, revised April 2001.  http://www.cem.va.gov/hmhist.htm.
2.  For a listing of all known Civil War veterans buried at Midland, please click here.

More Midland Photo Galleries

The World War Burials at Midland
Home Crafted Tombstones at Midland
Gallery of Home Crafted Memorials at Midland
Gallery of Plot Boundary Markers at Midland
Artifacts of a Historic Cemetery

Names of Persons Buried at Midland

Tombstone Transcriptions
All Names, A-Z

Other Pages

Steelton Death Certificates, 1892-1893
About the Friends of Midland

Special Feature ~ The People of Midland:

Clayton E. Carelock
McKamey Family
Trennor T. Beckwith

  return to the Midland Introduction

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This page was updated January 18, 2006.