Pleasureville merchant receives visit from Louisiana Tigers
This house sits at the northeastern corner of the intersection of N. Sherman Street and Druck Valley Road. It is located on the heights northeast of York near village of Pleasureville in what in today Springettsbury Township in York County, Pennsylvania. Back on Monday, June 29, 1863, the brick two-story structure housed the general store of a young merchant named Emanuel G. Keller.
In real estate, one often hears the term “location, location, location” in terms of desirability. The unfortunate Mr. Keller was in the wrong location at the wrong time.
Two frame 1-1/2 story buildings at 2543 North Sherman Street date to c. 1859 and are currently used as residences. One sits on the street with the second behind the first.
Emanuel G. Keller was born about 1830 to a local man John Keller from a long standing Pennsylvania German family. On May 10, 1859, he married Jane Melinda Billet and purchased some land south of Pleasureville on the heights to build his store and a nearby home for he and his bride.
Housing Keller’s store from 1860 through the first decade of the 20th century, the front three-bay building has a rubble stone foundation, side-facing gable roof with asphalt shingles and scrolled barge board, 6-over-6 windows and a modern concrete full-width porch. Very similar to the former store, the rear building has a standing seam metal roof with open cornice and several replacement windows on its front elevation. E. G. Keller also owned the two-story dwelling to the east, and the rear dwelling may have been used as an accessory building to the store throughout the 19th century. (text courtesy of Springettsbury Township’s website).
Keller’s store was near a series of Confederate campsites of the First Louisiana Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. These boys from the Pelican State were commonly known as the Louisiana Tigers, and their reputation for poor discipline and lawlessness preceded them into Pennsylvania. They were stationed in the valley along Codorus Creek near two old mills and the railroad tracks, stretching eastward for into adjacent farms all the way to where the York Harley-Davidson factory is now located.
A group of Tigers paid a visit to the 23-year-old Keller’s fledgling business and raided the store. He apparently had previously sent away much of his merchandise, because after the war, Keller filed a damage claim for the least amount of money claimed by any York County retailer, only $35. He cited his losses as shoes, hats, and, interestingly, pencils. Perhaps that is all the Rebels took; or perhaps Mr. Keller could not provide documentation (or specific recollection) of anything else taken by the men from Brig. Gen. Harry T. Hays‘ brigade.
Nearby, another group of Tigers encountered a group of citizens – Jacob Kessler, William Kessler, and William H. Kessler – who were taking horses to safety near Possumtown (Pleasureville). The soldiers forced them to drive the team into the Rebel camp. They stole 5 mules, the Kessler’s farm wagon, 4 fly nets, 5 halters/chains, and 2 traces.
When Kessler and his sons returned home, they found another disaster. Foragers had cleaned out his farm, taking livestock, a bay stallion, a black family horse, a riding saddle, bridle, thirteen 3-bushel bags, ten bushels of corn, oats & horse feed, and three bushels of shelled corn.
In contrast to the storekeeper’s modest postwar damage claim filed with the state government, Kessler’s was huge. He asked for $1795.10, one of the highest totals in the county.
He received nothing.
Details on Keller and Kessler are from the Pennsylvania Adjutant General’s files in the State Archives in Harrisburg. These stories and many other interesting York County incidents appear in my upcoming book, The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign: June-July 1863 from LSU Press. I have approved the galley proofs, finished the indexing of the book, and now are awaiting the final proofs before the print run on Glatfelter’s archival quality premium book paper.