The Oil Well Ghost, A Union City-Titusville Ghost Story for Halloween

drake well

Drake Well, Titusville, Pennsylvania. Library of Congress

This historical ghost story is fiction, but based on a legend that incorporates Union City and Titusville oil well activity and people.

by Kathy Warnes

Abram James whistled as he drove along in his buggy between Titusville and Union City. Pennsylvania.

“It’s such a daisy dancing spring day, I could dance like a daisy!” he told his three friends riding with him. “And Lalah’s here and he told me something important is going to happen today.”

“Abram, when are you going to give up this Lalah nonsense,” scoffed his friend Joshua. “It’s impossible to have a spirit guide watching over you like a guardian angel. This is 1867, not the Dark Ages!”

“Joshua, listen to me. Lalah is my friend and he watches out for me. He wants me to have good things in my life and he helps me find the oil to pay for them.”

“But Abram, Lalah is a dead Indian. That’s what you told me.”

Joshua looked at Abram and his friends nodding in agreement. Joshua scowled. “Abram, you’ve got to quit this nonsense. If you talk about it long enough, your mind’s going to come unhinged. I’m worried about you and so are Daniel and Caleb, aren’t we boys?” Joshua glared at the others and they nodded.

“I want you to know for once and for all that Lalah is real,” Abram said. “He was an Indian Chief who lived in these parts. He killed a homesteader’s family and then the homesteader killed him. Then he went to a world beyond ours and found out killing was wrong. He vowed to befriend a whiteman to atone for his sin in killing that homesteader’s family. I happen to be the whiteman he befriended. He’s been kind to me and I’m proud to call him my friend, even though he’s a spirit.”

“If this is true, where is he now?” Josha demanded. “Why are you the only one who can see him and talk to him? And why would he want to make  up for killing a whiteman’s family when the whiteman killed him?

“There is no need for vengeance in his world,” Abram explained.

“Abram, I fear you’re imagining all of this,” Joshua said. “Indian spirit guide indeed! Your mind is slipping away from you!”

“Joshua, I tell you my mind is not unhinged. I’m not imagining Lalah, he’s just as real as you are.”

“Abram, why don’t you…” Caleb began. Suddenly, Abram jumped up from his seat, tossed the reins to Caleb and leaped out of the buggy.

“Abram, where are you going?”  Caleb shouted.

Abram didn’t answer. He didn’t even turn around. He jumped over a wooden log fence that wounded around the field and danced up and down in the grass like devil’s were tickling him.

“The devil indeed has a strong hold on him,” Joshua murmured as he watched his friend dancing.

“We must get to him before he hurts himself,” Caleb said. “Whoa!” he shouted, pulling back on the reins. He tied the horses to the fence and the men jumped out of the buggy and ran after Abram. By the time they caught up with Abram, he was dancing in the middle of the field close to a grove of trees growing on the far side of the meadow. Puffing and panting, the three men ran across the meadow to Abram. As they got closer to him, they saw him jerk and fall to the ground. When they finally stood over him, he was pale and stiff as a corpse.

“We’d better get him to Dr. Johnson right away,” Caleb said. “Joshua, you take his feet and you and I will take his head and shoulders, Daniel. Let’s get him in the buggy.”

The men moved to pick up Abram, but he pulled away from them. “Don’t touch me!  I must dig here. Lalah says to dig here!”

Abram wriggled out of his friend’s arms and clawed frantically at the ground. “Shovels and picks. I have to get shovels and picks and start digging here. Lalah says there is oil here.”

Caleb grabbed Abram by the arms and Joshua and Daniel held his shoulders. “Abram, it’s time you see Dr. Johnson. You’re going to hurt yourself jumping around like that,” Joshua said.

“It seems like he already did . There’s blood on his hand,” Caleb said.

Abram threw out his chin. “It’s only a little scratch I got clawing at the ground. Lalah says to dig here and find oil and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Joshua put his hand on Abram’s arm. “Abram, please come with us peaceably to Dr. Johnson’s office.

Abram threw Joshua’s hand back at him like it was a hot coal. “I don’t need Dr. Johnson and I sure ain’t coming wit you. I’m going to do exactly what Lalah told me to do.”

Abram dug around in his pockets.

Caleb sighed. “Abram, what are you looking for now?”

“A penny. I know I have a penny in my pocket,” Abram said.

Caleb held out a penny. “Here Abram, if you need a penny I’ll give you one.”

“I need my own lucky penny,” Abram said. He fished around in his pocket a while longer and pulled out a worn copper penny and put it on the ground. “Here’s where I’ll dig my first oil well!”

“Right here on this spot?  Why here?” Joshua demanded.

“Because Lalah says this is where there is much oil and Lalah knows what he’s talking about.”

“Abram, please come to Dr. Johnson’s with us. Just let him take a look at you to make sure you’re in tiptop shape,” Daniel begged.

“Nope, ain’t got no time. I got to borrow the money to buy this land from the owner. Got to go see him right now. That oil’s just waiting to come bubbling and gushing out of the ground and I’m gonna be there to throw my arms around it as soon as it comes.”

Abram gestured towards the buggy and his friends got back in and hurried to town in a cloud of dust. Abram walked back, thinking every step of the way. He spent the next few weeks mortgaging his soul. He bought the land from the farmer who owned it and he borrowed money from the bank to build an oil well at the spot that he marked with the penny. And all the while Abram was busy arranging, Daniel, Caleb, and Joshua were busy scoffing and shaking their heads.

“You’re going to go bankrupt because of this fool notion in your head that your ghost friends knows where there’s some oil. You need to see the Doc,” Joshua told Abram.

“We’re going to drag you there yet,” Caleb warned with purpose in his eyes.

But his friends didn’t actually drag Abram to Dr. Johnsons  until the day he put the word out to the saloons of Titusville that he was looking for a drilling crew. That was the last straw for Joshua, Daniel, and Caleb. That night, they banged on the door of Abram’s shack. He stuck out his head to see who it was and Joshua threw a horse blanket over his head. Daniel and Caleb hoisted up his legs and they loaded him into the wagon. Caleb tied a rope around the blanket for good measure and they dumped Abram in the corner like he was a sack of potato seed.

“This is for your own good, Abram,” Joshua told the squirming figure as they bounced and jounced over the dirt path to Dr. Johnson’s house. “It was all right when the foolishness was at the talking stage, but now the money’s starting to get away from you. That’s when things get messy, that’s when friends have to do something for you if you won’t do something for yourself.”

“MPPPP,” Abram said as he twisted and turned, trying to escape the blanket.

“I’ll take the blanket off  your head if you promise to be still,” Caleb said. “Promise?”

“MPPPP!” said Abram.

Caleb loosened the rope and peeled the blanket from Abram’s head.

“ varmits!” Abram shouted. “Does this friendly caring of y ours have anything to do with the fact that I owe  you fifty dollars?  You know what I’m talking about, the fifty dollars you kicked in towards the farmer’s land.”

“I had to be crazy to loan you money for a wild goose chase,” Joshua moaned. “Oh, it ain’t that I don’t care about you Abram, but I care about my part of that fifty dollars too and I wanna stand a fair chance of getting my money back. And so far, there ain’t no oil, Abram.”

“Joshua, you gotta trust me. I aim to pay you back all of your money and interest to boot. You just gotta wait until my oil comes in. It’s going to, I just know it is.”

Caleb tightened the rope around Abram’s arms. “You gotta quit this wild goose chase right now. Just because you think this Indian tells you there’s oil in a spot, do you think there really is? You’re going into debut up to your eyeballs and what do you got to show for it besides nothing?”

“Caleb, you turn me loose from this hogtie right now!” Abram shouted. “I’m gonna show you that Lalah knows what he’s talking about. And just as soon as I pay my crew we’re gonna start drilling and we’re gonna find oil, lots and lots of oil.”

Daniel patted Abram on the shoulder. “Abram, we’re gonna go see Dr. Johnson. I hear tell he’s a real good Doc and maybe he can talk some sense into you. You’re just a little crazy in the head, nothing that can’t be fixed.”

“I ain’t crazy in the head, Joshua. I’m sane and onery enough to wring your neck if I get my hands around it. And yours!” Abram glared at Caleb. “And yours.” Abram glared at Daniel. “Now turn me loose from this hogtie or you’ll never get your money back.”

“We’re at Dr. Johnson’s so you might just as well come in with us!” Joshua said. He and Caleb and Daniel hauled Abram out of the wagon and dragged him to Dr. Johnson’s front door. Caleb knocked and the cabin door was opened by a man who was as tall and skinny as a telegraph pole. The man looked at them questioningly. “What can I do for you gentlemen?”

Joshua shoved Abram forward. “It’s our friend Abram, here, Doc. He’s a little mixed up in the head.”

Dr. Johnson scratched his chin. “Why do you say that?”

Caleb cleared his throat. “He’s hiring a crew to drill an oil well on old man Brown’s property. Everybody knows there’s no oil there, but he’s still fool enough to try to drill.”

“That’s it, Doc,” Joshua said. “He’s being a fool with everyone’s money but his own. He’s being a fool with MY money. I want my fifty dollars back. Can you talk some sense in his head?”

Dr. Johnson scratched his chin again and gazed at Daniel. “And what do you have to say about this?”

“Doc, what if Abram told the crew it was just a bad joke and paid them for a few days’ work. What if he did that?”

Dr. Johnson scratched his chin a third time. “There’s no reason why he can’t if you can convince him to do that.

“We was counting on you to convince him of that, Doc. You being a doctor and all, we thought he’d listen to you.”

The doctor looked at Abram. “What do you have to say about all of this?”

“I say there’s oil out there and these danged fools better let me loose so I can help find it. Then I’m going to boil them in a potful of oil, every single doubting Thomas one of them!”

“He’s going to boil us in an empty pot of oil!” Joshua scoffed.

“Why don’t you men come inside and we’ll talk about it more, “ Doctor Johnson said.

“We can talk to his Indian friend too,” Caleb said.

“We can do that,” Dr. Johnson agreed, smiling.

“I’ll show all of you. Let’s go in and talk to Lalah,” Abram said.

Doctor Johnson held open the door for the men.

“Git me out of these blankets!” Abram shouted. “You varmits know I can’t walk when I got blankets wrapped around me like bacon on a stick.”

“I’ll untie you if you promise not to punch me when you get loose,” Dr. Johnson said.

“I won’t punch you,” Abram promised. “I got to save my strength for digging. I might have to dig the entire oil well myself if I don’t have a crew.”

“I’ll make you a deal,” Dr. Johnson said. “You conjure up Lalah and I’ll loan you the money to pay the crew for one week. Does that sound fair to you, Abram?”

“Sounds fair square to me,” Abram said. “Let’s get started.”

The men pulled chairs and wooden kegs in a circle by the stove. Dr. Johnson pointed to the kerosene lamp sitting in the window.  “Should I blow out the lamp or does Lalah like lamplight better?” he wondered.

“Lalah can move whether it’s light or dark,” Abram said.’” This is a plumb foolish notion if I ever heard one,” Caleb complained. “Here we are, five grown men sitting around in a circle trying to talk to a dead Injun.”

“Let him talk to empty air!” Joshua scoffed. “Maybe he’ll learn his lesson when the empty air don’t talk back.”

“You can call Lalah anytime now,” Dr. Johnson said.

Daniel looked over his shoulder. “H-how do you call him?”

“I have a certain poem I say and then he comes,” Abram explained.

“Go ahead and say your poem. Let’s get this over with so we can get back home,” Joshua said

Abram closed his eyes and held his arms straight out in front of him. “Ohh,oooo,” he moaned. “Lalah, Indian spirit of the Great Spirit, come into this humble place. Tell me where the oil will come through…tell me because I believe in you.  Ooo, ooooo…”

The flame in the kerosene lamp flickered and shrunk to a pinpoint. Then it went out.

Daniel looked around the room with round, frightened eyes. “The lamp’s going out. Does that mean your friend likes the dark, Abram?”

“It was just the wind. The wind always can blow out a kerosene lamp and it’s windy tonight. So what’s so scary about that?” Joshua scoffed.

“Nothing. So why are you shivering?” Caleb asked him.

“The same reason  you are,” Joshua chattered.

Caleb, Joshua and Daniel huddled together in the middle of the circle. “Go away, whatever you are!” Daniel shivered, hiding under the woodbox by the stove.

“Joshua, you said it’s just the wind,” Abram said.

A cold breeze blew across the backs of the men’s necks and a rushing hollow sound like a seashell noise filled the small cabin.

“I’m glad you could visit us tonight, Lalah,,” Abram said. “How are things going in your world?”

“Many council fires…buffalo…dancing and powwow. Why do you call me from powwow?”

“Lalah, will you appear in front of my friends and Dr. Johnson here so they’ll believe you are real? They think I’ve been hitting the whiskey too hard.”

“I will show them how a brave prepares himself for battle.”

An arrow whizzed past Abram’s ear and landed with a smack in one of the logs above the table.

Joshua drew a gun from his holster and fired in the direction of the arrow.”

“Wheeping whiskers!” Joshua exclaimed. “I drilled that Injun standing in front of you clear through and the bullet didn’t stop. It went right smack through him and came out the other side.”

“Why did you shoot him? “ Abram demanded.

“He had his bow and arrow pointed right at my gizzard!” Joshua said.

“Hells bells,” Lalah is standing there with a medicine plant in his hands to take into the medicine lodge. He cures the sick of the village with his potions. He’s not shooting no bow and arrow,” Abram told them.

“What does this Lalah look like?” the doctor asked.

“He’s got black braids down to his waist and he’s dressed in buckskin leggings and moccasins. His chest his bare and painted with red and brown markings,” Abram said.

“Hmm,” the doctor said.

“Is that good enough for  you, Doctor? Is the crew going to dig for oil? I kept my promise. I conjured up Lalah for  you.”

“That you did,” Dr. Johnson agreed. “I’ll keep my promise to stake you, Abram. Lalah seems like a good risk to me.”

“Yahoo!” Abram yelled.  He threw his arms around Lalah in a grizzly bear hug. “Did you hear that Lalah? The doc is going to stake us. Now all  you have to do is show us where to drill.”

“Abram, why are you hollering and hugging the door?” Joshua asked.

“You heard the doc. He said he’d stake me for the crew. I can drill for my oil. I can pay you back and maybe I’ll even have money left over!”

“Let’s wait and see,” Joshua said. “I still ain’t convinced this whole thing ain’t another one of your tricks, Abram. Maybe you had somebody dress up like an Injun. Maybe you talked for this Lalah..”

“Now Joshua, how could I have somebody dress up like an Injun when I didn’t even know I was going to be here? You hog tied me, remember?”

“I still ain’t sure,” Joshua insisted. “You show me the oil spouting up out of the ground and maybe I’ll believe you.”

“I’ll show you all the first thing tomorrow morning,” Abram promised.

It was  yawning early the next morning when Joshua, Abram, Daniel, Caleb, and Dr, Johnson and the drilling crew gathered in the farm field that Abram had bought from old man Brown. They drilled the entire day and all they got for their work were buckets off sand, sorrre muscles and a mountain of courses and complaints from Joshua.

“Seems to me you’re going to have to figure out another way of paying me back besides striking oil,” Joshua said as the sun sank behind the trees. “Unless you want me and the guys to take it out of  your hide. What about you, Doc, wanna help me tar and feather him?”

“I don’t think we should give up on Abram and Lalah yet,” Doctor Johnson said. “Sometimes it takes weeks and months of drilling before a single drop of oil comes to the top. It’s only been a day. Let’s give him some more time.”

“I think this is one of his tricks and I’ll help tar and feather him!” Caleb glared at Abram.

“YEOW! You don’t have to tar and feather me. Look at that well!  Look at that well!” Abraham hollered.

Everybody looked at the well. Thick black liquid poured out of it. They had struck oil the very first day of the drilling.

“YEOW!” Abram yelled again, loud enough for the entire town of Titusville to hear him. “You found it, Lalah, you found it!”

“Confound it!” Joshua growled. “I thought I heard an Injun tomtom beating over this racket!”

Abram threw his arms around his friends and Doctor Johnson. “Since this well has retored harmony between friends, I’m going to call it Haromonia Well No. 1.”

The barrel of oil Harmonia Well No. 1 pumped on its first day was only the first of 130 barrels of crude oil abram got from it before it went dry. Harmonia No. 1 was only the first well that Abram and Lalah discovered.

Every time Abram and his friends inspected property containing oil underneath the ground, Lalah threw him into a dance that always ended with him falling to the ground on the exact spot where the oil was located. Abram always marked the spot with the same worn penny he used to mark his first well and this was where the crews drilled. They found enough oil for Joshua to get his fifty dollars back millions of times.

“I wouldn’t have tarred and feathered you ,” Joshua assured Abram.

“Lalah won’t let you even if  you wanted to tar and feather me,” Abram assured him. “He needs me too much for his oil prospecting!”

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The Persevering Presbyterians of Union City, Pennsylvania- Chapter Nine



The Persevering Presbyterians of Union City, Pennsylvania

Chapter Nine


Reverend C.H. Williamson

Reverend Edgar M. Smead

Reverend E.E Lashley

 (Continued from May 3, 2014)

 By the time the Smead’s celebrated their second wedding anniversary in their new home in the Presbyterian parsonage, they had become well liked in Union City. The largest audience at the Presbyterian Church for many months greeted the new pastor and his wife at the February 10, 1909 service, his first communion service at the church. Nearly every sat was filled and all were deeply interested in the service throughout. Eleven members were admitted to the church, eight on their profession of faith and three by letter. Four people were baptized. The attendance at the Sunday School after the morning service was larger than usual and the numbers in the pastor’s class increased from 17 to 28 in one week. The recent series of meetings at the church awakened a new and greater interest in the work of Christ among the members of the church.

Reverend Smead served the Presbyterian Church at Union City faithfully and efficient for nine years from 1908-1917. During his pastorate the Men’s Bible Class expanded threefold, he gave popular illustrated lectures, and helped the church celebrate its 100th anniversary. He led the church to participate in successful revival meetings and oversaw repairs on the church as well as an addition to the chapel.

On Sunday, January 28, 1917, Reverend Smead conducted his last serve at the Union City Presbyterian Church, since he had accepted a call to the Presbyterian Church at Olean, New York. On February 6, 1917, the Presbyterians and townspeople of Union City held a farewell reception for Dr. and Mrs. Smead at the church. The reception honored their tenth wedding anniversary and also served as a farewell party. Coleman’s Band was present and played several favorite selections which Dr. Smead and the large crowd appreciated. Mr. F.B. Reynolds, chairman of the evening, called Dr. Smead to the platform and presented him with a purse of gold containing $100. The large crowd warmly applauded Dr. Smead and his family and expressed its appreciation of their contributions to the church and community.

The Presbyterian congregation held a meeting on Thursday, March 21, 1917, to decide on a new pastor to fill the pulpit and take up the work of the church. Reverend Robert Clements of the First Presbyterian Church in Erie moderated the meeting. Revered E.E. Lashley of Galion, Ohio, who occupied the pulpit of the Union City Church on March 18, was extended a call by a vote of the congregation. Reverend Lashley came to the Union City Church highly recommended by residents of Galion and other cities where he had served as pastor and entered upon the duties at Union with the hearty support of all families of the church. He was married and had one son who was ready to enter college in the fall of 1917.

Reverend Lashley began his pastoral duties at Union City on Sunday, April 8, 1917. He oversaw continued growth in the church and a new spirit of improvement in the Sunday School and the Men’s Bible Class. But after three years at the Union City Church, Reverend Lashley accepted a call to a church in Pittsburgh. On October 28, 1920, the congregation met for a special session moderated by Dr. C.L. Mead. The people regretfully accepted Reverend Lashley’s resignation and once again began the search for a new pastor.

Presbyterian Participation – 1905

March 27, 1905. At a special congregational meeting, Reverend C.H. Williamson was elected as pastor from among three other candidates and extended a call which he accepted.

Friday morning, April 7, 1905. The Annual Meeting of the members of the Presbyterian Church and congregation was held last Monday evening. Dr. A.C. Sherwood acted as moderator and J.W. Middleton as Secretary. The following church officers were elected:

Ruling Elders:  Dr. William J. Humphrey  and Hon. John R. Mulkie

Trustees:  E.B. Landsrath and E.D. Clough

Treasurer:  W.B. Fulton

It was decided at this meeting to change the date of holding the annual meeting from the first Monday in April to the first Monday following the last Sunday in March of each year.

Tuesday morning, April 18, 1905. The annual meeting of the Presbyterian Men’s Club was held last Sunday afternoon in the church parlors and the attendance was good. The officers elected for the years were:

President                                  F.E. McLean

Vice-President                          Roy Mulkie

Secretary                                  Eugene D. Clough

Treasurer                                  Comer H. Fuller

Executive Committee:               John R. Mulkie, D.A. Wright, James S. Thompson, C.B. Geer, E.B. Landsrath

Enrolling Committee:                 Charles E.B. Hunter, H.S. Thompson, W.L. Mitchell, E.D. Clough

June 1, 1905.  Miss Sarah Oneland met the Session and on confession of faith was admitted to the sealing ordinances of the church.

 Friday, July 21, 1905. Beginning next Sunday, the Presbyterian Church will have printed each week a neat little calendar, containing an official directory of the church officers and program of services for the week for distribution among the members of the church and visitors to our city.

 Tuesday morning, August 1, 1905. The Presbyterian and Baptists churches have united forces fort he month of August. The following fraternal arrangements have been made. Sunday, August 6,Reverend C.H. Williamson will preach in the Baptist Church in the morning and in Presbyterian Church in the evening. On August 13 at the Presbyterian Church in the morning and the Baptist Church in the evening.

 On August 20, Reverend W.H. Marshall will preach in the Presbyterian Church in the morning and the Baptist Church in the evening and on August 27th, in the Baptist Church in the morning and the Presbyterian Church in the evening.Music will be furnished by the church where the congregation convenes and the collections will go to the church where the services are held. Let the members of both churches not only attend, but earnestly pray that these union services may bring a great spiritual blessing.

 Friday, September 1, 1905. Next Sunday evening the Baptists, Presbyterian, and Methodist congregations will join in a mass meeting at the Methodist Church. The meeting is a celebration of the signing of the Peace Proposals between Russia and Japan. All the people of Union City are invited to come together and celebrate of this notable event. The service will consist of address and music appropriate to the occasion. The service will begin at half past seven,as all Sunday evening services do after the first of September.

 Friday morning, September 15, 1905. The oratorio of The Holy City will be given at the Presbyterian Church in about three weeks, under the direction of William F. Parsons. The first rehearsal will be held at the church this evening.

 Tuesday, October 10, 1905. A large number of persons were disappointed in not being able to hear the oratorio of The Holy City at the Presbyterian Church last Sunday evening,the church being completely filled long before the hour of services arrived. William F. Parsons of New York directed the oratorio.  The soloists were Miss Gertrude  Amidon of New York, soprano; Miss Mayme Cooney of Warren, contralto; Henry W. Manville of Meadville, tenor; and Mr. Parsons who sang the bass solos as well as conducting. Grace Main  played a violin obbligato and the introduction of both the first and second parts as solos.

 October 12, 1905. The Session decided that the proceeds from the oratorio, The Holy City, should be turned over to the music committee to be deposited in the bank as an organ fund.

November 12, 1905. Mr. Abram Buller came before the Session and on his confession of faith in Christ was admitted to the sealing ordinances of the church. Mrs. Linda Buller presented her letter from the Lutheran Church of Elizabethtown, Pa., and by a unanimous vote both Mr. and Mrs. Buller were received into full communion of the church and their names ordered

placed on the church roll.

 Tuesday, November 28, 1905. Reverend J.P. Irwin delivered an interesting historical address before the Erie County Historical  Society, at Erie, on the evening of November 21st, regarding the Presbyterians of Erie County. Among other things he said were that the Presbyterian Church of Union City was organized in the year 1811, consisting of eight members with Matthew Gray as elder. The present membership is 254, with a Sunday School attendance of 167. The contributions made by this church amounts to $67,974. Since 1801 the Presbyterians of Erie County have organized 21 churches, 18 of which remain with a combined membership of 3,906. There are now 93 ruling elders in the churches of the county.

 December 3, 1905. Mr. J.S. Thompson was instructed to procure a case of grape juice for use at Communion services and present a bill for same to the Board of Trustees.

 Tuesday, December 5, 1905. The person who took a black silk muffler from the Presbyterian Church parlor during the morning service last Sabbath is requested to return the same to W.F. Olberg.

 Tuesday, December 5, 1905. The solemn ordinance of baptism was observed at the morning service in the Presbyterian Church last Sunday. Six new members were also received into the Church.

 December 8, 1905. The Men’s Club of the Presbyterian Church will welcome all of their friends at the church this evening, where a fine musical program awaits them. Every member of the church and congregation, both old and young as well as the public in general, are most cordially invited to be present. The entertainment is free.

The Program

Vocal Solo: Miss Ethel Hunter

Address:  Reverend C.H. Williamson

Piano Solo:  Miss Bessie McLean

Vocal Solo:  Miss Rachel Taber

Violin Solo:  Miss Grace Main

Whistling Solo:  Mr, Ray Brown

Male Quartet:  Mr. Middleton, Sherwood, Williamson, Boyd

 Tuesday, December 12, 1905. The ladies of the Presbyterian Church last week forwarded to the South two barrels of clothing to be used by missionaries there for the poor children.

 Presbyterian Pastors- 1905

Tuesday morning, June 20, 1905. Reverend D. Cleon Eberhart, will fill the pulpit at the Presbyterian Church next Sunday morning in the interest of the Anti-Saloon League. Reverend Mr. Eberhart has recently been assigned to the Northwestern District of Pennsylvania by the League. He is said to be a great worker and an able speaker.

 Friday, October 20, 1905. Mrs. C.H. Williamson had a very narrow escape from death last Tuesday evening.  In passing through a dark room at the Presbyterian parsonage, she tripped and fell, striking her head on a piece of furniture. She cut a long gash in her forehead and bruised her cheek and head. Dr. A.C. Sherwood attended her.




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Ordinary People Make History

Flood in Union City

One of the many French Creek floods in Union City history. Another major flood occurred on June 4 and 5, 1892, when storms and French Creek flooding demolished buildings and scattered wreckage throughout the Borough and Township. The Union City Times estimated that the damage to city property including streets and bridges would reach $30,000 while the individual losses would approach $75,000 in this 1892 flood.

cycone shreve ridge


feed mill fire union city pa 1938

This 1938 feed mill fire was just one of many in Union City.The Union City Chair Company caught fire on September 17, 1904. The damages amounted to $200,000 and 23 men from the fire department fought the blaze. Another chair company, the Standard Chair Company, burned on November 14, 1906, with $120,000 in losses. The fire supposedly started in the boiler room of the factory. Seventy-five firemen fought it. On April 29, 1907, at 9:45 p.m., the Union City Chair Company again caught fire, this time suffering $300,000 in damages. A total of 83 men fought that fire. The Shreve Chair Factory burned on March 8, 1913, with a $250,000 loss. The fire started in the paint room and required 85 men to put it out. Since all of this fire activity continued to blaze in Union City, it was fortunate that Coleman Hose Company, Hunter Hook and Ladder, and the Union City fire Police merged and incorporated in 1939. The new fire fighting body became the Union City Volunteer Fire Department.

feed mill fire union city 1928

This feed mill fire in Union City happened in 1938. After the business district began to build up in the 1870s, Union City experienced some bad fires. One of the worst happened on April 24, 1879, when fire roared down both sides of Main Street from French Creek south to the corner of South Street. It did $75,000 worth of damage, but most businessmen resolved to rebuild and did so. A major fire started in Union City on January 19, 1885 in a row of frame buildings opposite the post office owned by the Ezra Cooper estate. It did $27,000 worth of damage. The chair companies in Union City provided some lasting fuel for fires. On July 25, 1881, a fire started in the boiler room of the Heineman and Cheney Chair Factory on the west side of town. It burned eight other buildings beside the chair factory and did an estimated $50,000 in damages.

Irena and James Loomis

Irena and James Loomis at their home on Waterford Street in Union City. The Babcock and Loomis families were among the early ordinary settlers in Union City.

walter babcock and cows

Walter Babcock and his cows The 1930 Federal census reported that nearly 53 percent of farms in Pennsylvania were either general, self-sufficing or abnormal, meaning mainly part time farms. The census defined specialized farms as deriving at least 40 percent of their income from a single source, including farms classified as dairy, cash grain, fruit, poultry, and truck farms. Walter and Blanche Babcock owned a mostly dairy farm in Elgin.


Walter Babcock and his horses. Horses played an essential role in Erie County and Union City farming for centuries.

blanche babcockandchickens

Blanche Babcock tends her chickens on the farm she ran with her husband Walter Babcock.

Blanche Babcock

Blanche Babcock Blanche Babcock poses in front of the farm car with the farm and its horses and cows in the background.

Leon McCray and Lillian Babcock

Leon McCray and Lillian Babcock Early settlers in Beaverdam were William Miles and William Cook, his brotherin-law, who came in June, 1795. In 1800 James and Robert McCray from Ireland, and Joseph Hall from Virginia, moved over from Beaver Dam to the site of the present Elgin. Elgin supported many dairy farms. The McCray farm was a mile south of Lovell’s Station.


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The Persevering Presbyterians of Union City, Pennsylvania



by Kathy Warnes

Chapter Nine



Reverend C.H. Williamson

Reverend Edgar M. Smead

Reverend E.E. Lashley


On March 28, 1905, the members of the Presbyterian Church held a congregational meeting. Reverend William Grassie acted as moderator and the congregation decided to extend a call to Reverend C.H. Williamson to become pastor of the church. Reverend Williamson accepted the call and occupied the pulpit on Sunday morning and evening April 9th. He served the church as pastor from April 1905 until June 1907.

During the time Reverend Williamson was pastor, he worked with Andrew Carnegie to purchase a pipe organ for the church on a matching fund basis. He oversaw major repairs to the front of the church and renovations on the inside.

In November 1906, Reverend Williamson made a ministerial trip to Butler and received and exciting benefit. He acquired a valuable hall clock which had been in his family and passed down from one generation to another for more than 150 years. He brought the clock home with him and had it varnished and repaired. It stood in the Presbyterian parsonage and kept better time than 9/10 of all modern clocks. He prized the grandfather clock very highly, not only on account of its antiquity, but also as an heirloom.

Another domestic note happened in 1907 during Reverend Williamson’s pastorate when the Presbyterian Cook Book appeared in the kitchens around Union City and the surrounding territory. The Union City Times said that no young married couple should go to housekeeping without it. Indeed, it wouldn’t be amiss for some older married people to purchase a copy! The cook book could be purchased from church members or at the millinery story formerly owned by Mrs. J.A. Boyd. The Times warned that the supply was “getting low and those desiring one had better get it soon.”

In May 1907, Reverend Williamson received a unanimous call to become pastor of the Park Presbyterian Church at East End, Pittsburgh at a salary of $2,000. At the close of the morning church service on Sunday, May 12, 1907, Reverend Williamson announced that he had decided to accept the call. He preached his farewell sermon at the Union City Presbyterian Church on Sunday, June 9, 1907. The Union City Times reported that the people of Union City and its Presbyterian Church reluctantly let Reverend Williamson go, because he had been a faithful and successful pastor for the last two years.

Mrs. Williamson had also been very helps and “this worthy couple have good reason to be proud of their success.” They left the church free from debut, with a largely increased membership, and a fine new organ costing about $2,000 had been installed since they came to Union City. Reverend and Mrs. Williamson left Union City Monday morning June 10, 1907, followed by the hearty good wishes of a large number of friends.

Over the next few months, the pulpit committee and Trustees interviewed several candidates for pastor of the church. Finally on Tuesday evening, October 1, 1907, the members of the congregation held a meeting to decide upon and extend a call to one of the several candidates who had been filling the pulpit for the past few months. They unanimously chose Reverend W.J. Hogue of Swissvale, Pa. Elders J.R. Mulkie, Fred J. Shreve, E.R. Gates and Trustees C.E. Hunter, E.D. Clough and W.L. Fuller were delegated to sign the call to Reverend Hogue. James S. Thompson and Lee Wilson were chosen to prosecute the call before the Presbytery. The Elders and Trustees thought that after fully considering the call, Reverend Hogue would accept it. The salary fixed for the new pastor was $1,200 with the manse and one month’s vacation   each year.

Reverend Hogue had some outstanding qualifications to be pastor of the Union City Church. He was born in Harrison County, Ohio, on November 16, 1878 and was descended from an old French Huguenot family exiled by the Edict of Nantes in 1685. After graduating from Franklin College in June 1900, he entered the Allegheny Theological Seminary at Allegheny, Pa., and graduated from there in May 1903. Then he went to Edinburg, Scotland where he took a post graduate course in the Edinburgh University in the fall and winter of 1903-1904. After he graduated from Edinburgh University, he traveled for about six months through Great Britain, France, the Holy Land, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. While he was Europe he received a call from the United Presbyterian Church at Swissvale, which he accepted. He began his work as pastor there in September 1904 and had served the church since then.

Reverend Hogue came highly recommended as an able preacher and an excellent pastor. The Union City Church considered itself fortunate to have secured such a man as its leaders. Then the pulpit committee discovered that its work wasn’t over after all. Reverend Hogue sent them a letter which they received on October 16, informing them that he had received a call from a larger church near Pittsburgh. He decided to accept the call.

For the next few months, the members of the Presbyterian Church wondered if they would ever have a pastor again. Reverend Williamson had vacated the pulpit in June and by December 1907; the church still did not have a new pastor. Finally, a few weeks before Christmas of 1907, Reverend Edgar Mason Smear of Montgomery, Pa. occupied the pulpit at the Presbyterian Church for the morning and evening services. Reverend Smear came highly recommended by a former pastor of the church, Reverend C.H. Bruce, and everyone was urged to come out and hear him. The congregation liked what it heard, because it held a congregational meeting the day after Christmas 1907, and extended a unanimous call to Reverend Smear.

Reverend Smear began his pastorate at the Union City Presbyterian Church on Sunday, February 2, 1908. He was born near Owego, New York, on October 13, 1871. His education began in the school of Nichols, a small town near Owego. In his early teens he entered his father’s saddle shop in Owego, where he received his business training. But his purpose to enter the ministry was formed during this time and he took a preparatory course for college at the Owego Free Academy. After graduating from the Owego Academy, he entered Princeton University in 1891, and graduated with his class in 1895.

For the next three years Edgar Mason Smear enjoyed the benefits of the Zabriskie Scholarship at Auburn Theological Seminary at Auburn, New York. After graduating from this institution, he took charge of the Presbyterian Church at Naples, New York, as stated supply. During the last year of his pastorate, fifty people were added to the church.

In October 1900, Reverend Smead’s ambition to take some post graduate studies at Princeton was realized when the Princeton Theological Seminary awarded him a scholarship. In the spring of 1901, he received a degree of A.M. from the University of Princeton where he had taken a year’s work, and he also received a degree of B.D. from Princeton Tehological Seminary for a year of post graduate study.

He left Princeton in 1901 to accept a call from the Presbyterian Church at Milford, Pennsylvania, and remained there for five years. In 1905 Reverend Smead took a cruise to the Orient where he visited the Holy Land, Egypt, and other countries bordering upon the Mediterranean Sea. On the first of January 1906 he accepted the pastorate at Montgomery, Pa., and remained there for two years. He came to Union City from there.

On the sixth day of February 1907, Reverend Smead married Miss Grace M. Zink of Buffalo, New York. He and Mrs. Smead arrived in Union City on the afternoon of January 30, 1908. A good sized delegation from the Presbyterian Church met them and gave them a royal welcome and helped them settle into the parsonage at the corner of South Street and Third Avenue.

(To be continued)



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The Persevering Presbyterians of Union City, Pennsylvania


by Kathy Warnes

Chapter Eight (Conclusion)

 Presbyterian Profile

 People Lift Their Debt in Seventeen Minutes

 Tuesday morning, September 22, 1903

 There was a scene in the Presbyterian Church Sunday morning which will be long remembered in the church as well as in Union City proper.

At a joint meeting of the Session and Trustees of the church, the pastor, Reverend A.J. Herries, appealed to the people to lift the debut which had accumulated on several different accounts. He said freedom from debt would emancipate the church and make worship pleasanter. The amount of debt was $744.00. It took exactly seventeen minutes for Reverend Herries to deliver his appeal. The response was about $800.00. The people were delighted and when the result was announced they broke forth into singing the long meter doxology.

The young people of the church provided one of the most delightful features of the emancipation service. They spontaneously held up their hands to indicate their dollar subscriptions. The Union City Times commented that “the spirit in which this event was conducted is a splendid manifestation of the harmonious and united feeling which prevails among the people in the Presbyterian Church.”

Reverend Herries announced in connection with the day’s doings that since his advent as pastor eight years ago, the church had raised for all purposes, $22,851.00, a record of which he felt proud and which must be stimulating and satisfactory to all concerned.

In the evening service, Mr. William Herries of Brooklyn, addressed the people on the subject of Temperance. There was a large congregation who seemed to enjoy the occasion. The speaker discussed temperance from the standpoint of church responsibility and individual duty by law of Christian love rather than by the law of the State. He sought to impress upon parents the home duty of caring for the young and the importance of earnest and fervent prayer for the redemption of the erring and for the protection of the innocents. Mr. Herries expressed himself thankfully in having been able to be present with the people of the Union City Presbyterian Church as a witness of their day of triumph and joy.

 Presbyterian Pastors

 Friday March 6, 1903. Reverend A.J. Herries went to Franklin yesterday to assist in the installation of a new pastor in the Presbyterian Church. He was in Wattsburg this week and preached three sermons in a series of evening meetings being held there in the Presbyterian Church.

 Tuesday, April 28, 1903. At a meeting held last evening, the Session of the Presbyterian Church unanimously refused to take any action looking to the dissolution of the pastorate of Reverend A.J. Herries.

Tuesday, May 26, 1903. Reverend Charles R. Hunt, a former pastor of the Union City Presbyterian Church, is presently located at Mt. Vernon, Kentucky where e is president of the Mt. Vernon Collegiate Institute. Mrs. Hunt is a member of the faculty, teaching piano and vocal music.

Tuesday September 8, 1903. At the conclusion of the morning service in the Union City Presbyterian Church last Sunday Dr. J.F. Read, who was the pastor of the church in the early sixties said goodbye to his many friends. He is leaving for Pittsburgh, where he will live with his daughter. He is 92 years old.

Friday, November 13, 1903. Reverend A.J. Herries, who has been in rather poor health for several weeks, went to the Corry Hospital Wednesday evening.  Yesterday he underwent an operation performed by Drs. A.C. and Andrew J. Sherwood.  It will probably be some days before he will be out again.

 Presbyterian Participation, 1904

 January 1, 1904. On Sunday morning at the Presbyterian Church, the pastor, Reverend A.J. Herries, will preach on “The Sin of Ingratitude” In the evening there will be a specially arranged musical program as follows:

 Music               Bartholme’s Orchestra              Chorus of young people

Scripture Lesson

Prayer, Response

“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”

Solo                             Dr. Andrew Jackson Sherwood

Offertory                      Bartholme’s Orchestra

Lecture             The Ages

Violin Solo                                                       Miss Grace Main

 The offering taken at this service will be for the Butler fever sufferers and it is earnestly desire that the offering be a liberal one.

Tuesday, March 8 1904. The Presbytery of Erie has appointed Reverend A.J Herries of Union City to preach the opening sermon at the spring meeting of the Presbytery to be held in the First Church of Erie on the second Tuesday in April.

Friday March 11, 1904. The Brooklyn Eagle of March 7th contained a sermon delivered by Reverend A.J. Herries of the Union City Presbyterian Church.  His subject was “Lost Through Neglect.”

 April 1, 1904. Miss Katherine Agard was elected musical director of the Young People’s Choir.

 Friday April 8, 1904. The Annual Congregational meeting of the Presbyterian Church was held last Monday night.  The attendance was large with deep interest manifested in the affairs of the church. J.W. Middleton and Fred J. Shreve were elected to the Eldership for a term of three years. J.D. Westcott and James H. Bonney were elected Trustees for three years. W.B. Fulton was elected Treasurer for one year.

The Session’s report showed that the congregation had raised and disbursed $475.00 for benevolent work. The Trustee’s report showed that the church was $879.00 in debt on April 1, 1903, and now on April 8, 1904, it had a debt of $40.00. The Trustees reported that every dollar of the special subscription to the debt fund had been paid.

The Session signed a resolution saying that the church was in the most prosperous condition, temporally and spiritually, than it has ever been in and this condition was due to the earnest and faithful service of Reverend Herries during his 8 ½ years at the church. They will ask the Presbytery of Erie not to accept his request to resign.

 Tuesday, April 19, 1904. The Presbytery of Erie in session last week emphatically refused to entertain the request of Reverend A.J. Herries for a dissolution of the pastoral relations existing between him and the Presbyterian Church of Union City. Mr. Herries, therefore, remains the pastor of the Presbyterian Church.

 Tuesday, April 19, 1904. The 66 churches with 52 ministers and 11, 858 members in the Erie Presbytery met in Erie last week. The church and ministers contributed during the fiscal year $169,479 for congregational an benevolent purposes.

 Tuesday, May 31, 1904. The Presbyterian Church was filled last Sunday morning. The G.A.R. Post, Sons of Veterans, and the Women’s Relief Corps were present to hear the excellent Memorial Day sermon delivered by Reverend A.J. Herries.

 Tuesday, August 2 1904. The primary department of the Presbyterian Sunday School will picnic at Dick’s Grove tomorrow. Teams will be at the church at 10:00 to convey the little ones to that place.

 Friday August 5, 1904. Reverend A.J. Herries, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, has been granted a vacation for the month of August.

 Friday, November 15, 1904. Those wishing to contribute to the Christmas box for Miss Lee will please do so at their earliest convenience. Partly worn clothing for boys toys or candy gratefully accepted. Leave your contributions at the lecture room of the Presbyterian Church Thursday evening.

 Friday, November 18, 1904. On next Sunday evening there will be a Thanksgiving praise service at the Presbyterian Church. The young people’s choir, assisted by Miss Lenore White will render the following program:

Organ voluntary; anthem; hymn; scripture text; prayer; response; offering; anthem; violin solos Miss Lenore White; Remarks; Reverend Herries; prayer; hymn; benediction.

 Presbyterian Pastors

 Friday, January 15, 1904. Miss Margaret Herries of Long Branch, New Jersey, was the guest of her brother, Reverend A.J. Herries, at the Presbyterian parsonage a few days this week.

 Friday February 5 1904. Reverend A.J. Herries suffered a relapse soon after he reached home from the morning service at the Presbyterian Church last Sunday.  He has been confined to his room all the week.

 Friday March 11, 1904. The remains of Mrs. Dilworth, wife of Reverend R.B. Dilworth, who for many years was pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Union City, were brought here for burial beside their children in Evergreen Cemetery yesterday afternoon.

The funeral party was met at the Erie Depot by a large number of sympathizing friends and former neighbors, many of whom had not heard of her illness in Pittsburgh until the announcement of her death was received on Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs. Dilworth was a woman of more than ordinary lovable character and making friends, readily retained them. Her last illness, we understand, extended over a long period of time. The surviving husband and three children have the deepest sympathy of a large circle of friends. Brief services as conducted by Reverend A.J. Herries, were held in the new chapel.

 Tuesday March, 15, 1904. A large congregation was in attendance at the Presbyterian Church last Sunday evening to listen to a sermon delivered by former pastor Reverend R.B. Dilworth.

April 22, 1904. Upon the invitation of Reverend A.J. Herries, the Union City Fire Department will attend services at the Presbyterian Church in a body, accompanied by Burgess and Borough Council on Sunday evening, April 24, at 7:30 o’clock.

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The Day William B. Gray, Soldier from Union City Died in Virginia


Battle of Gaines’ Mill. Library of Congress

by Kathy Warnes

The 83rd Regiment, Pennslyvania Volunteer Infantry, suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill. William B. Gray of Union City was one of the casualties.

Clerk of the Session David Wilson entered a terse sentence in the session records of the Union City, Pennsylvania Presbyterian Church in June 1862. He wrote:”Was killed in battle near Richmond on the 27th day of June 1862- William B. Gray, a member of this church, in the 26th year of his age.”

William B. Gray Enlisted in the 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Some of William B. Gray’s personal history can be gleaned from examining previous session records. The record says that in May 1837, Reverend Chamberlain baptized one child for William Gray, a boy christened William Bracken Gray. In October 1854, William made a public profession of his faith, partook of the Lord’s Supper and became a member of the Presbyterian Church.

William probably worked with his father on the family farm until he enlisted in Company E of the 83rd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers at Waterford on September 9, 1861. The farm and factory boys of Northwestern Pennsylvania resolved that the Union had to be preserved at all costs, even at the price of leaving home to fight their countrymen in the tangled woods and swamps of Virginia and the alien countryside of the remainder of the South. Many of them were convinced that the war wouldn’t last long. After all, hadn’t Mr. Lincoln called for three month volunteers?

By October 1861, the 83rd Regiment had reached its full complement of 1,000 men. Of these, nearly 300 had been members of Colonel John McLane’s Three Month’s Regiment. The 83rd was mustered into the United States service on September 8, 1861, and departed for Washington on September 16, seven days after William B. Gray enlisted. The 83rd soon earned an excellent reputation for drill and soldierly appearance.

Friday June 27, 1862 – The Day William B. Gray Died at Gaines’ Mill

Less than a year after William B. Gray and his 83rd Regiment left Erie, they found themselves in the thick of what would prove to be one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The day that William B. Gray and Colonel John McLane died- June 27, 1862- seemed like a day suited more to frittering away than fighting. A Union veteran recalled it: “The morning of Friday, the 27th day of June 1862 broke hot and sultry.”

The Seven Days Campaign Ends a Three Month Union Drive to Capture Richmond

Despite the hot weather, the Union and Confederate armies had determined to fight and fight they did. The battle they fought came to be called the Battle of Gaines’ Mill and was part of the Seven Days Campaign which began on June 25, 1862. The Seven Days Campaign ended a three month Union drive to capture Richmond. From June 25 to July 2, 1862, General Robert E. Lee and his army and Major General George B. McClellan and his army fired at each other and marched and maneuvered in the Chickahominy swamps that stretched to the James River. More men were involved in these battles and more casualties resulted from them than in any other campaign in American military history to this point. The biggest and bloodiest battle of the Seven Days Campaign was Gaines’ Mill.

General Robert E. Lee had a combat strength of 56,000 men to Brigadier General Fitz-John Porter’s 35,000. The casualty figures were 8,750 Confederate and 6,937 Yankee dead and wounded. Captain Judson states in his regimental history that the position of the Union Army resembled a letter V, occupying both banks of the Chickahominy. The Army’s left flank rested a little beyond Fair Oaks, some four or five miles from Richmond. Then the lines extended in a northeasterly direction down to the river at Gaines’ Mill, whose position may be called the head of the letter. Then the line ran northwest on the left bank of the river to the vicinity of Mechanicsville. General Fitz-John Porter’s entire corps occupied the left bank and constituted the right wing of the army.

General Robert E. Lee Vows to Defend Richmond

Confederate General Robert E. Lee had spent weeks concentrating his forces and building new levees to help defend Richmond. He brought Stonewall Jackson down from the Shenandoah Valley to Hanover Courthouse. He planned to transfer the main body of his army to the left bank of the Chickahominy and attack the Union forces in front, while Stonewall Jackson with 30,000 men was to hurl them on the Union flank and rear. The Confederates wanted to crush the right wing of the Union Army, to break up the base of the Union supplies at Watt House, and force it to fall back and seek another base on the James or at a greater distance from Richmond.

The Union infantry prepared as best it could to beat off the Confederate attack. Brigadier General Porter had established his headquarters at the Watt House and a little beyond that the Union front line formed along the bottom of the brush-choked swamp. The soldiers formed a second line at the crest of the ravine, and threw up breastworks of knapsacks, logs, and dirt. Open fields stretched beyond the ravine, and Union artillery commanders positioned their guns to stop any Rebel advances across them. The ground on which the battle was fought consisted of rolling hills, broken up into ravines and hollows. Some of it was open country and some was heavily timbered.

The woods extended from the slope of the high ground terminating in the flats from one half to 3/4 of a mile from the river to Gaines’ Mill and were about a mile in length. The stream on which the mill stood emptied into the Chickahominy, flowing a little over half way between these woods and Gaines’ house. At a point below the mill, a small rivulet branched off and running along the skirts of those woods again emptied into the stream. It was on the banks of the rivulet, in a hollow on the edge of the woods, that the 83rd and 44th New York formed a line of battle.

The Battle of Gaines’ Mill Ends for William B. Gray

With a roar of guns and the Rebel Yell, Robert E. Lee’s, Band his men opened the Battle of Gaines’ Mill. The 83rd, according to Captain Judson, had “the hottest corner.” He wrote: “It now became evident that the principal attack was going to be made along the lines of our brigade, for, if they could succeed in crushing us, our left flank would be turned, and the whole corps turned back toward the Pamunky and cut off from the rest of the army.”

The men of the 83rd hastily built a breastwork of logs in their corner and held the position which was on the extreme left of the Union Army. Captain Judson saw Colonel McLane standing near the center of the regiment, beneath the shade of a wide-spreading beech. The Colonel told his men that they must hold their position to the last. Inspired by his courage, the men vowed never to be driven from their position. Aided by artillery, the 83rd repelled the Rebels in three ferocious charges, but then the Rebels partially broke through. The men of the 83rd knew that the Rebels wanted to break through the Union lines, sweep down the river bank, secure the bridges, and cut off retreat.

It seemed that the Rebels were successful. The 83rd Regiment was cut off from the rest of the Army and flanked upon the right as well as in front. All the 83rd could do was come out from cover and fight in the open. They came out and stood to it, while men fell thick and fast on all sides. There is no record in the regimental history of when, where and what time William B. Gray fell. It is just noted in the church record that he died on June 27, 1862.


Bates, Samuel P., History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869

Burton, Brian KI., The Peninsula and Seven Days: A Battlefield Guide. Bison Books, 2007

Gallegher, Gary W., The Richmond Campaign of 1862: The Peninsula and the Seven Days (Military Campaigns of the Civil War). The University of North Carolina Press, 2000

Judson, Amos M., Captain, Company E., History of the Eighty-Third Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. Dayton, Ohio: Morningside Books, 1986

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

christmastreeA Blessed and Happy Holiday Season to everyone!  Thank you for reading my Union City History blog and please continue to do so.  Life has intruded a lot this past year, but I love writing about Union City history and helping to preserve it.

Here is a link to some Christmas stories and the stories behind some of the songs that we sing at Christmas time.  I hope you enjoy them and pass them on to the next generation.

Kathy Warnes

Christmas Cheerc


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