Clues of kinship connect locals at road show
As the Civil War Road show eased on down the road to the historic Warrior Run Church, Kathi Wertman of Watsontown was found sharing Hartranft family information.
She spoke of her spouse’s kinship to John Frederick Hartranft, who’d been a General during the Civil War. Hartranft was present at trials dealing with conspirators aiding John Wilkes Booth in his escape after shooting President Lincoln. A provost marshal in charge of carrying out the sentence, “Hartranft pulled the rope which hung Mary Surratt one among four convicted. I’d spoken to a great granddaughter of the General who had a piece of the rope,” Wertman said.
The display included a photo of Simon Cameron, the 15th Governor of Pennsylvania whose action’s Hartranft viewed as corrupt. His political aspirations led him to become the state’s 17th Governor. Near the capitol, an equestrian monument depicts the General mounted on his horse.
At the road show, the Wertman’s displayed cigar boxes depicting the General’s image. They were neatly shelved with other memorabilia from the war days.
The mention of Cameron’s name initiated a conversation asking if Wertman knew of Moreland Township resident, Simon Cameron Hartnraft, former owner of the Bruce Vandine farm in the township’s southwestern corner. She had indeed heard of him and had been to his burial site at Moreland Baptist Church.
The conversation continued to other local Civil War soldiers named for famed persons, one being Martin VanBuren Bartlow. The youngster destined for Civil War service had been born shortly after his namesake was elected president, but has yet to take oath of office. “I have a photo here of his sister, the second wife of Henry Hartranft. Jane Bartlow moved from Moreland to the Watsontown area and became mother of the latter of Henry’s 15 children,” Wertman said.
Wertman went on to explain that she holds a letter from a November 1861 correspondence when Bartlow sent it to his sister. Bartlow is buried in Moreland Lutheran Cemetery, was a blacksmith by trade and lived the latter years of his life just over the Anthony Township, Montour County line along Exchange Road.
Governor Hartranft was born and also died in Montgomery County. Like many families, his kinsmen scattered to other areas including Montgomery and Muncy in Lycoming County.
Gatherings, such as the road show, inspire conversations where clues can be found in places one might not expect. The Road Show’s future stops include the 2011 Bloomsburg fair.