1838: Henry Hermani to George Ronte

This letter was written by Henry Hermani (1776-1856) of Amberson, Franklin county, Pennsylvania. He was the son of German emigrant and Revolutionary War Veteran,  John Ludwig Hermani (1743-1831), and Elizabeth Ludlow Lowe (1752-1831).

The primary objective of the letter, it appears, is to inform the recipient that his father-in-law, John Beard, (born 1802 in Pennsylvania) had enlisted in the army in June 1835 and that he was mortally wounded during the Seminole Indian wars in Florida on 27 December 1836. We learn from the letter that he was advised of this by a fellow soldier who returned to Pennsylvania carrying John Beard’s pocket book. He also wished to inform the family that unpaid monies were owed to Beard by the government for his service and that they might apply to Washington City for the same.

According to service records, John Beard served in Co. C, 4th Artillery. There is no mention of his being wounded, however, and what’s more, it indicates that he was discharged from the army on June 25, 1838 after three years’ service. To make things a bit more curious, there was a Dr. John G. Beard, born 1802 in Pennsylvania, enumerated in the 1860 US Census at Whetstone, Crawford county, Ohio — the same frontier village in Ohio to which this letter was addressed. Could John Beard’s death in Florida have been a hoax?

The letter appears to be addressed to George Ronte but I cannot find anyone by that name and I assume it has been spelled wrong or transcribed in error.

Addressed to Mr. George Ronte, Crawford county, Ohio
Care of William Fitzsimmons, P. M. Whetstone

Amberson’s Valley [Franklin county, Pennsylvania]
July 7th 1838

Dear sir,

After our best respects to you & family, I would wish to inform you that your father-in-law, John Beard, came to me where I was working at Samuel Elliott’s about the 12th of June 1835. He said he had come from Dorsey’s Ironworks in Huntington county; said he came in quest of the family. He had thought they were still in the valley. I told him that they were gone to Ohio. He asked me if all the children were gone too. I told [him] they were. He seemed very much distressed at hearing of their removal & shed tears.

He then said he would go on down near Hagerstown and harvest. To Hagerstown he accordingly went & worked three days, and there he met with an old acquaintance who proposed to him to go to Baltimore and enlist to go to Florida in the service of the United States, and they went to Baltimore and enlisted for three years at six dollars per month and found in everything.

They were then put on ship board and taken to New York for training. There he was but a few weeks & from thence put on board again and taken to East Florida, about three thousand five hundred miles (as it is said) from Baltimore by water. His enlistment in Baltimore is dated the 25th of June 1835. In his own pocket book with is now in my possession & brought home to me at his own request after he was mortally wounded, by a young man named Thomas Forsyth ¹ who was his fellow soldier & comrade & who is now living at Loudon Forge at which place he had first been acquainted with him.

I went myself to Loudon to see the young man who told me that on the 27th of December 1836 between sunset & dark, an alarm was made that some of the sentry were shot by a scouting party of the Indians. He says that he then ran in company of a number of others to see them & they found one man shot dead and the other (his comrade, John Beard) mortally wounded. The young man then says, “Beard told me he could not live & requested me to go to his tent & get his soldier’s pocket book, and if I should live to ever get home, to take it to Henry Hermani and he expected that Hermani would communicate the tidings to his family.” The young man told me that he lived about an hour and a half after he got the pocket book. The copy of his enlistment says, “I, John Beard, born in Franklin county, State of Pennsylvania, aged 33 years, and by occupation a shoemaker, do hereby acknowledge to have voluntarily enlisted this 25th day of June 1835 as a soldier in the Army of the United States for the period of three years unless sooner discharged by proper authority.” His oath of allegiance then follows and after this a description of his person as follows: Dark eyes, black hair, dark complexion, 5 feet 8½ inches high. The pocket book contains a statement of all the rations & pay drawn, and I find by it that during the service up to the time of his death he had drawn but 11 dollars & the balance about ninety seven dollars could be got by applying at the War Office in Washington City.

I would have wrote sooner but I did not wish to do so until I seen the young man myself and the reason why he got home was that he was twice wounded and was regularly discharged & having still taken care of the pocket book delivered it safely.

I must now close by informing you that we are as well as usual. Your Aunt Nancy is pretty much in the same way she was when you were in the valley. Elizabeth and myself still live and keep house as formerly. Margaret Still & family are well. A great many of the old people in the valley have died within a year or two past. Old Mr. [Michael] & Mrs. [Margaret (Tedrow)] Brinley both died in the month of June within a few days of each other. Francis Kirkpatrick also died a few weeks ago & old Daniel [Pfeiffer] Piper & old Adam Piper & old Mrs. Dougal & others.

We would wish you to write to us & let us know how all the family are and where they are & the names and trades of the men to whom the girls are married. Nothing new but remain your respectfully — Henry Hermani

¹ Thomas Forsyth was born at Sharpsburg, Maryland, about 1811. He enlisted at the age of 24 in the U.S. Army and was placed in Co. D, 4th Infantry. His enlistment record indicates he had blue eyes, brown hair, a fair complexion, and stood 5′ 10″ tall. He was discharged due to disability in June 1837. He was wounded in action on 31 December 1835 at Fort Marion, Florida.


Griff View All →

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

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