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York County Soldiers: Pvt. Henry Gable of North Codorus Township

York County, Pennsylvania, borders northern Maryland, just across the Mason-Dixon Line which historically separated free states from slave states in the Eastern United States. As such, the citizens had decidedly different reactions to the onset of the Civil War 150 years ago this year. Some, influenced perhaps by decades of trade with secessionist-leaning Baltimore, were openly “Copperheads,” a term applied to Northerners with strong Southern sympathies. A few went South and joined the Confederate army. Other residents were ambivalent, preferring to be left alone and not actively involved in political affairs such as the war. Some men opposed the concept of war on religious grounds (hundreds of York County men were Mennonites and similar denominations). Others freely supported the war effort and the Federal government’s drive to stamp out the growing rebellion. Some estimates are that 6200 men, out of a total population of 68,000 people in York County, served in the Union army.

Among the latter was Henry Gable, a young bartender raised on a farm in North Codorus Township in southern York County by German immigrants.

Enlistment records researched by author Dennis W. Brandt and available on-line at the website of the York County Heritage Trust indicate that Henry Gable stood 5′ 8″ in height and had dark hair and blue eyes. The 1860 census listed him as a bartender with a net worth of $100.
The York County, Pennsylvania Biographical History by John Gibson (Chicago: F.A. Battey Publishing Co., 1886) has a short biography of Gable.

Henry Gable, son of Henry and Annie (Gertrude) Gable, was born June 17, 1839, in North Codorus Township, and was brought up on a farm.
January 23, 1864, he enlisted in York, Penn., in Company B. One Hundred and Eighty-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, 187th Regiment. He was wounded in left thigh and leg, in the discharge of his duty at Weldon Railroad, Virginia, June 18, 1864, and was taken to Division Hospital, and thence to City Point Hospital, Virginia. June 30 he left there for Findley Hospital, Washington, D. C. Our subject’s sister came to Washington and secured his transfer to the hospital at York, Penn. On July 25, 1865, he was again transferred to the Citizens’ Hospital, Philadelphia; July 26 to the Chestnut Hill Hospital; he left the Chestnut Hill Hospital October 17, 1865, for the Christian Street Hospital, where a piece of bone came out of his leg, December 10, 1866, and a second piece of bone came out on September 3, 1872.
Mr. Gable is a well known and respected citizen of Codorus Township.”

A much more extensive biography (and that of his German-born father)appears in Volume 2 of George Prowell’s History of York County, Pennsylvania: “HENRY GABLE, who is now living retired in the city of York, was for many years prior to his removal thither a prosperous farmer of Codorus township, this county, and he was held in such high esteem among his neighbors and fellows citizens there that the community regarded his change of residence as a distinct loss. He is a veteran of the Civil War, and his patriotism and public spirit have added to the respect which a life of integrity and right living has won for him wherever he is known. Mr. Gable was born June 17, 1839, in North Codorus township, son of John Henry and Annie Gertrude (Jacobs) Gable, both of whom were natives of Germany. John Henry Gable was born June 16, 1795, and his wife was born Nov. 5, 1800. They were reared and married in their native land, where several of their children were born, and in 1835 came to the United States, landing at Baltimore. They did not remain there long, however, coming to York county, Pa., and settling in North Codorus township, where they passed the remainder of their lives.

Mr. [John Henry] Gable was an industrious and upright man and was well respected by all as a good citizen — in fact he became quite prominent in his township. He assisted in making the tunnel [note: the Howard Tunnel] on the Northern Central railroad in North Codorus township, and was employed by the same company for three years, assisting in building” the road. A Mr. Feizer, living on the farm now owned by Mrs. John Sprenkel, near the tunnel, was the first man to pass through that tunnel.

Mr. Gable bought the Emig farm of sixty acres in North Codorus, and there he engaged successfully in agricultural pursuits, making his home on that place until his death, which occurred in 1844. The place is now owned by George W. Heiges. Mrs. Gable died at the age of eighty years, two months, and both are buried at the well-known Ziegler Church, in North Codorus township. They were members of the Reformed Church, and always took an active interest in its work. Mr. and Mrs. Gable had ten children born to them…

Henry Gable received his first schooling in the old dwelling house on the Israel Folkomer farm in North Codorus township, and last attended at Mummerts meeting-house, in Adams county, remaining in school until his eighteenth year. In 1848 he saw the first telegraph poles thrown off the train that came from York. This was on a Sunday morning, and a pole was thrown off every 300 yards, and one wire was put on. This was a wonderful sight in that day, and a large crowd from the country round collected to view the train as it went speeding past Brillhart. The road was then the Baltimore & Susquehanna, but is now the Northern Central. That same year occurred a notable wreck. A freight train struck a heifer that belonged to James Robinson, a colored man, and was derailed, knocking off the northwest corner of the bridge at Brillhart Station, the engine and cars going into the creek. Five men were injured and taken to the home of John Brillhart, near the Station. John Gable, a brother of Henry, was employed there at the time, and he went to the mill north of the station, now owned by the York Water Company, at one o’clock at night for rye flour for poultices for the injured men. By the following Sunday the wreck was all cleared away, except the cow-catcher, and that is still there.

On June 18, 1857, Henry Gable returned to York county from Adams county, and in North Codorus township, near York New Salem, engaged in farm work, to which he had been reared. In the fall of 1861 he came to York, continuing here until his enlistment, Feb. 23, 1864, in Company B, 187th P. V. I. He was wounded June 18, 1864, on the Petersburg & Norfolk railroad, in Virginia, a bullet passing through his left thigh, and leg; Samuel I. Adams, of York, was at his side at the time. He was taken to the Division Hospital June 18, 1864, received attention there on the 19th, the next day going to City Point (Va.) hospital. On June 30th he left City Point Hospital for Washington, where he was received at the Finley Hospital July 1st. His sister, Elizabeth, went to Washington, D.C., in September, 1S64, to secure his transfer to York Hospital A, and he left Finley Hospital Oct. 4, 1864, making the trip on the well-known “Penn Park,” York, Pa., and arriving at his new quarters Oct. 5th.

On July 25, 1865, he was again transferred, this time to the Citizens Hospital, Philadelphia, where he arrived the same day, the next day leaving for Chestnut Hill Hospital, near Germantown, where he remained from July 26th to Oct. 17th. That day he went to the Christian Street Hospital, Philadelphia, where a piece of bone was taken from his leg Jan. 10, 1866, a second piece coming out years afterward, Sept. 3, 1872, on his farm in Codorus township. Mr. Gable left Philadelphia Feb. 23, 1866, for Harrisburg, where he received his discharge the same day, also entering his application for a pension, at Washington, D. C.

Returning to York county, Mr. Gable remained a short time near York New Salem, and thence removed to Seven Valley, where he was engaged at farm work. On Oct. 29, 1868, Mr. Gable was united in marriage with Mrs. Elizabeth Henry, and they located on the farm in Codorus township, where Mrs. Gable passed the remainder of her active years. It was a fine tract of land, made more valuable by intelligent cultivation and constant improvement, and its owner justly ranked among the most successful farmers in his locality.

Mrs. Gable passed away at that home on Dec. 26, 1885, and Mr. Gable continued to reside there until Dec. 24, 1903, since when he has lived retired in York. Mr. and Mrs. Gable had no children. She was a member of St. Peter’s Reformed Church, and is buried at what is known as the White Church in Springfield township. Mr. Gable is a member of the Reformed Church in Springfield township. He is a Democrat in political faith. Few men are better known than he in the locality where he made his home for so many years, and none are held in more general esteem.”