Last York County American Revolution vet died during the Civil War
While the Civil War raged almost 150 years ago, in some towns aged veterans of the American Revolution still were alive. In York, Pennsylvania, these old soldiers included John Pennel, who back in 1776-77 had sailed under famed Admiral John Paul Jones. He was still alive when his United States splintered in 1860, when Confederates bombarded Fort Sumter in 1861, when fellow York Countians bled and died at Antietam, and when the armies maneuvered for battle near Chancellorsville. He died at the age of 98 at his South Street home, supposedly the last Revolutionary War veteran in York County.
One snippet from the article shown above is of interest (from the Harrisburg Patriot, June 6, 1906, courtesy of www.newsinhistory.com). The newsman wrote, “Many of his experiences, the old veteran took delight during his lifetime in recounting to his neighbors and friends, but no permanent record was made of them and like much of the entertaining history of that period with which this locality is intimately connected, all is lost.”
All is lost.
That is exactly the reason why Jim McClure and I have written the forthcoming book, Civil War Voices of York County, Pa.: Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign. John Pennel’s colorful tales of sailing with the legendary John Paul Jones are now gone forever, and future generations likely will never know these stories that Pennel delighted in telling.
Jim and I wanted to capture as many Civil War voices as we could to memorialize them for future generations.
While no Civil War veterans have been alive in our lifetimes, our parents’ and grandparents’ generations knew old soldiers. Jim and I have collected recollections (both written and oral retellings) and assembled them into a book for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Sponsored by the York County Heritage Trust and the York Daily Record, this book will be published by Colecraft Industries of Orrtanna, Pa.
Note that another old account (Moore’s Rural New Yorker, Vol. XIV, No. 24, June 13, 1863, courtesy of the Rochester and Monroe County Historical Newspaper Collection) indicates that John Pennel was 99 years old at his death, which is listed as occurring on May 18.
Here is that brief entry: “Mr. John Pennel died on the 18th ult. at York, Pa., aged ninety-nine years. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary war.”
John Pennel is listed in the 1840 U.S. Census for York County as living in York and having a household of himself (male aged 60 to 70), as well as a male and female aged 30 to 40 (likely his son and daughter-in-law), a male and a female aged 0 to 5 (presumably his grandson and granddaughter), and a female aged 80 to 90 (John’s wife).
The 1850 Census lists John (aged 85), Sarah (aged 38), Martha (aged 7), and Henry (aged 7).
The 1860 Census again lists John (aged 95), as well as his grandson John H. Pennel (aged 24).