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Veteran Henry F. Emswiler should be honored

York County veteran Henry F. Emswiler died October 4, 1918, of wounds received in action; as he served in Europe during World War I. While Emswiler is honored on the bronze memorial tablets flanking Gate 4 at the York Fairgrounds and is buried in the nearby Greenmount Cemetery, he is not among the 197 York Countians honored on the World War I panels, fronting four columns, at the York County Administration Center, located at 28 East Market Street in York, PA.

After researching Henry F. Emswiler, I think he should be honored on the East Market Street panels. I provide the reasons why in this post.

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the four original photos/documents in this post if details are cut off in the cropping of photos/documents, or if they have been removed from the ydr.com site.

Within that yorkblog.com site, the York Daily Record is presently experiencing gremlins, which, on some platforms, results in a new window opening at findbetterresults.com; a site no longer used by the York Daily Record. While the York Daily Record works on correcting this problem, simply close that window; the linked blog page, within yorkblog.com, that you were intending to reach should appear.

The gremlin also appears on the other yorkblog.com sites: Cannonball site of Scott Mingus, Only in York County site of Joan Concilio, Universal York site of June Lloyd, and York Town Square site of Jim McClure, where you can continue to access Jim’s older posts prior to October 30, 2015. As with all the yorkblog.com sites, the “Search this blog” within the page continues to be a fantastic search tool within each individual site.

Quoting the complete Associated Press article on the October 4, 1921 dedication of the WWI tablets and newly created memorial entrance, at the York Fairgrounds: “York, Pa., Oct. 4. — World War veterans, who made the supreme sacrifice, were lauded to-day by Lieutenant Governor Edward E. Beidleman in an address delivered at the unveiling of memorial tablets and the dedication of the memorial gate at the York fair grounds. This gate was erected in honor of the York County soldiers who were killed in France. More than 5,000 persons heard the Lieutenant Governor, who substituted for Governor Sproul, the State Executive being too ill to attend. Edward J. Henning, Assistant Secretary of Labor, also spoke. The dedication of the memorial gate was preceded by a parade of the World War and Spanish-American War veterans and school children. Two gold star mothers, Mrs. Latimer Sayers and Mrs. Charles Neff, unveiled the memorial tablets.”

The tablets contain the following words plus the names of those in York County who “gave their lives in defense of liberty, right and justice.”

I think it would be a great tribute, to these veterans, by cleaning up these tablets; especially this year, since a great majority of them gave their lives during 1918.

I got a surprise when I compared the names on the Fairgrounds WWI tablets to the 197 names on the four WWI bronze panels fronting the columns of the former York County Court House; now the York County Administration Center at 28 East Market Street in York, PA. The Court House permanent bronze panels were installed during May of 1926; replacing wooden panels upon which a Memorial Committee collected and added names during and after the war.

There are SEVEN names on the Fairground WWI tablets in addition to the 197 that appear on the Court House WWI panels. Those names are: Albert D. Bell, Walter B. Dick, Henry F. Emswiler, Charles H. Heaps, Henry Knaub, John Austin McKee, and James F. Shuman.

Five of these SEVEN veterans appear the book “York County and the World War 1914-1919” by Clifford J. Hall and John P. Lehn. They are in the section devoted to the York County patriots who gave their lives in national service during the World War.

I’ll start by researching the two veterans who did not appear in that book, Henry F. Emswiler and James F. Shuman; thinking they would have the most reasonable explanation for not being honored on the Court House WWI panels. I was wrong in that supposition, per my research of Corporal Henry F. Emswiler.

The best way to start researching a WWI veteran is via pension details, of which copies of original documents are available on Ancestry.com. The only Henry F. Emswiler with a York County connection appeared in the following Henry Franklin Emswiler WWI Veterans Service & Compensation Record from pension application approval for his widow Stella Amanda Emswiler, when she resided in Camp Hill, PA.

The Henry Franklin Emswiler on this document was born in York, Pa, and died October 4, 1918, of wounds received in action. He had served overseas from May 7, 1918 until his death. Census, vital and family history records, available at the York County History Center, provide the early history of the likely Henry F. Emswiler in York, Pa:

Henry F. Emswiler was born March 17, 1899, as the son of David & Bianca Emswiler. The family initially resided at 316 East Philadelphia Street and by 1910 the family had moved to 1120 East Philadelphia Street in York. Henry grew up with a 6-year older brother, Samuel, and a 6-year younger brother Clair. Catharine and Warren were also children in the family; although they both died as young infants.

Henry’s mother died when he was 11-years-old. Henry’s father died when he was 14-years-old. They both are buried in Greenmount Cemetery; along with Catharine and Warren. I checked Find-A-Grave and located the following Henry F. Emswiler headstone in Greenmount Cemetery, listing death on October 4, 1918; i.e. the same date of death as the Henry Franklin Emswiler WWI Veterans Service & Compensation Record previously discussed, so I was confident I had identified the correct Yorker to go with those service records.

This headstone appears to have additional details below ground level; likely the top of the headstone was broken off years ago and what remained was inserted in the ground. The 1930s transcription record of all the cemeteries in York County, housed at the York County History Center, records for Greenmount Cemetery: “Henry F. Emswiler, Died Oct. 4, 1918, Aged 20 Years, 112th Inf. 28th PA Div., Killed in Action in France.”

I did not find Henry’s marriage details to Stella at the York County History Center, so I expanded my search. On April 3, 1918, at the Harrisburg Court House, a marriage license was issued to Henry Franklin Emswiler, Camp Hancock, Georgia, and Stella Amanda Rogers, Harrisburg.

In the April 10, 1918 issue of The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA) it is reported, “Mr. and Mrs. William Rogers, 943 Paxton Street, announce the marriage of their daughter, Miss Stella A., to Private Henry Emswiler, of York.” Henry married while on a furlough, just prior to being shipped overseas. After Henry departs for Europe, his wife, Stella Amanda Emswiler, continues to live with her parents, at 943 Paxton Street; which is the person and address Henry gave to notify, should he die.

Henry’s military record indicates he was inducted at Harrisburg in the Pennsylvania National Guard on June 24, 1916; i.e. at the age of 17-years-old. In the Guard, he was promoted to Private First Class on January 22, 1917, then to Corporal on July 26, 1917. When transferred? to the regular army on November 15, 1917, he was back to a Private and while serving in Company D, 112th Infantry, 28th Division in Europe, Henry was promoted to Corporal on August 1, 1918. He was killed in action on October 4, 1918.

Henry F. Emswiler was born and lived his whole life in York, PA, except for his time in the service, including the furlough, where he was married to Stella Rogers in Harrisburg. After giving his life, in service to his country, Henry’s body was buried in York County. Would you consider Henry Franklin Emswiler a York Countian? I do, and thus believe he should be honored; by having his name added to the WWI tablets along East Market Street.

Links to related WWI posts:

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts