74thers Meet in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial

(Reunion – West)


A group of the 74th descendants met up in Pittsburgh and Gettysburg in early November 2004 for one of the first 74th Descendant’s meetings.  The first get together was at the Allegheny Soldiers & Sailors Memorial in Pittsburgh’s Oakland District in the shadow of the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning.  Built as a tribute to the men who served in the Civil War from Allegheny County, this memorial is a must visit for anyone with Civil War ancestors from Allegheny.  Recently turned over to the non-profit corporation, the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial was the place for groups such as the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) and the Union Veterans Legion (U.V.L.) to meet for their conventions and events.  The Memorial has an unbelievable collection of artifacts, weapons, uniforms, and bronze plaques memorializing the service of the men for Allegheny County.  The facility is available for conventions – obviously there is enough seating as can be seen from this picture of the great hall to the left – to graduations and public events.  The front of the hall has many veteran motifs including the largest painting on canvass of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – behind the screen in this picture.  There are also smaller rooms where receptions and special events can be arranged.  All of the proceeds help to maintain the facility and its unbelievable collection.  In addition, the Memorial highlights Allegheny service members who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, or the Bronze Star.  Contact the Memorial staff for more information on the nomination process for such a service member to be honored.  


We were very fortunate to have at our disposal, and we were a bit um excited about every thing we saw so he really deserves a medal for patience, Tim Neff the Director of Education and Curator of Collections (left).  Tim was an awesome tour guide – answering a battery of questions from those in attendance.  The group consisted of Mindy Eckler, her father, and her daughter (descendants of Cpl John Roth), Bret Coulson (descendant of Lt. Joseph Nuemeyer, Capt John Risser, and Capt Joseph Meyer), Rhea Braun, Tracy Williamson, and Rod Fleck (the latter all descendants of Cpl August Funk).  The Memorial’s collection truly is remarkable from weapons, to displays on specific individuals or stories, Tim and his crew do a remarkable job to illustrate not only the Civil War service of the County’s veterans but all of conflicts and all branches of the service. The picture of the B-17 above was part of a display associated with on of the WWII aviator’s, while the pictures of the small diorama were of the 11th Corps and one of its PA regiments – it was easy to imagine that the soldiers marching on the roadway were “our boys.”  Truly, every case brought a “hey, check this out” – Tim who had scheduled about 45 minutes with our group to give us a tour of the entire building only made it to about the halfway point in his tour when he had to run to his next appointments.  Again, the guy was an awesome guide and extremely patient!  J


 In addition to the great details of the building’s architecture, one of the really important draws to this facility for us, was the memorial service plaques.  The protocol was that every man that served in a Civil War Regiment from Allegheny County would be listed on the plaque for that regiment.  From 90 day regiments, to the three year regulars, to the emergency regiments – all were listed on bronze plaques.  One of the earlier regiments that a group of 74thers had served in was the 13th Regiment – with Bret pointing out one of his ancestors who served in that regiment and later joined the 74th as an officer.  Those familiar with the 74th website’s reconstructed muster list will quickly realize that the many of the names contained in that muster list came from the Memorial’s plaque.  All of the names are listed in the book Allegheny County in the War for the Suppression of the Rebellion 1861-1865, by Samuel Evans. 

Here is Mindy, her dad George Snyder, and her daughter Samantha Eckler, with Mindy highlighting a great memory book she has created on the 74th.  With his finger under August Funk’s name, Rod, Rhea and Tracy are posing by the left of the 74th Plaque.  The names are listed by Company.  This is a great source for names for the regiment beyond Bate’s list which predominately lists the “new” regiment.  There were a lot of great discussions amongst the 74th Descendant’s “Reunion West” group.  Having the chance to visit with friends and family, who in some cases have shared things only via e-mail and the post office, was a great opportunity.  Thank you to everyone who made the trip to Pittsburgh!