History Card #278

US Civil War Flag -1864 Israel Palmer was born in 1825 and was a veteran of the U.S. Civil War. He enlisted as a private in Company G 29th Regiment of the United State Colored Troops Volunteer Infantry and later was promoted to serve as a musician.

The 29th Infantry was organized in April 1864 in Quincy, Illinois and first ordered to Annapolis, Maryland on May 27, 1864, and from there, to Alexandria, Viriginia where it was attached to the XXII Corps XXII in the Defenses of Washington, D.C. until June, 1864. Israel's unit then was commissioned to 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, IX Corps, Army of the Potomac, until September, 1864; followed by the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, IX Corps, to December, 1864; and finally to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, XXV Corps.

The unit saw action in the sieges of Petersburg and Richmond, where it was involved in the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864, Battle of the Globe Tavern on August 1821, 1864, Battle of Poplar Grove Church on September 29, October 1, 1864, and Battle of Boydton Plank road on October 27 & 28, 1864.

After the Richmond Petersburg Campaign, the regiment served on the Bermuda Hundred front and at Richmond until the Appomattox Campaign from March 28 through April 9, 1865. The unit was then in garrison duty with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, XXV Corps until the corps was moved to Texas in May 1865. The regiment then served in the Rio Grande Valley until November, 1865. The 29th Regiment Infantry, United States Colored Troops was mustered out on November 6, 1865.

Israel Palmer mustered out from service on Nov. 6, 1865. He died in 1885 at 60 years old.


History Card #279

US Civil War Flag -1864 Frank Benjamin Jordan was born on November 23, 1928 in Steelton to Frank Sr. and Drucie Dunlap Jordan. For the 1930 Federal Census, Frank and his parents were recorded as living at 157 Adams Street in Steelton with sisters Mary, 5, and Alma, 3.

In the 1940 U.S. Census, Frank, his parents and sisters still were living at 157 Adams Street, but the family now included 8-year-old twin siblings Joseph and Josephine. Frank Sr. supported the family as a laborer while Frank Jr. was a fifth-grader in the Steelton School District that year.

Frank was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, the beginning of an era of change for African Americans who served in the U.S. military. On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order that integrated the military and mandated equal treatment and opportunity. Racial remarks also were prohibited under military law. On Oct. 9th of that year, the Navy announced that it was extending the policy of integration that it had begun in the closing months of World War II.

Despite Truman's action, however, desegregation of the military wasn't completed for several more years, with black units persisting well into the Korean War. The last black military unit wasn't said to disband until 1954. Finally in July 1963, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara issued a Department of Defense directive that stated all military commanders could oppose discriminatory practices affecting his men and their dependents not only in areas under his control, but in nearby communities during off-duty hours.

Sadly, McNamara's directive against discrimination didn't take place in Frank Jordan's lifetime. Frank died just months prior to this on May 16, 1963 from post-operative complications at the VA Hospital in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He was 34 years old.


History Card #280

US Flag - WWI

William Kennedy was born about 1889 in Knoxville, Tennessee. According to his death certificate, there was no accessible public record of his parents names or where they were born.

William served in as U.S. Army private during World War I in the 153rd Depot Brigade based at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The 153rd was organized for World War and remained active until post-war mobilization. Fort Dix was established on July 16, 1917 and named in honor of John Adams Dix, a veteran of the U.S. Civil War and the War of 1812.

During World War I, Army depot brigades received and organize Army recruits. Here, recruits were provided with uniforms, equipment and initial military training before they were deployed to fight the front lines in France.

Depot brigades also received soldiers returning home at the end of the war. Soldiers' processing and discharges were completed at locations like Fort Dix. Although there is no immediate record of where William was discharged, it's likely that it occurred at Fort Dix because he was a member of the 153rd Depot Brigade.

After the war, William lived the remainder of his life in Steelton. For the 1920 Federal Census, he was recorded as living a boarder on Adams Street in the borough and worked as a laborer at Bethlehem Street . For the 1930 Census, William was noted as living as a boarder at 380 Christian Street in Steelton, his final place of residence. It appears that he never married.

William Kennedy died at home from heart disease on September 16, 1931. He was about 42 years old.


History Card #281

US Flag - WWI

Charles Henry Willis was born July 13, 1895 in Steelton to Virginia natives John and Bertha Shepherd Willis. For the 1910 U.S. Census, the family was recorded as living in a Furnace Street home in Steelton that was far from empty. Besides Charles, the family had seven other children: Mary, 19; Lila, 12; Lena, 8; Robert, 7; Alice, 2; and infant Lawrence.

Small wonder that 14-year-old Charley already was working as a on-street shoe polisher on his own accord in 1910 to help support the family.

Charles was inducted in the U.S. Army during World War I on August 1, 1918 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was living at that time. He first was assigned to the 160th Depot Brigade through August 21, then transferred to the 543rd Engineer Headquarters until August 20, 1918. After that, he served with Company A 543rd Regiment Engineers until honorably discharged on July 3, 1919 in Philadelphia.

While enlisted, Charles was stationed overseas from September 18, 1918 to June 28, 1919 with no reported injuries. The thousands of engineer troops that served in France in 1917 and 1918 contributed both to front-line and rear-support efforts. The combat engineers constructed bridges, roads, and narrow-gauge railroads at or immediately behind the front.

After the war, Charles returned home and continued work as a boot-black, or shoe shiner. His final home address was 519 Lincoln Street in Steelton. He married the former Willa Crosson, but the couple had no children.

Charles Willis died from a perforated ulcer with peritonitis on June 29, 1929. He was 33 years old.


History Card #282

US Flag - WWI

William Douglas Wheeler better known as Willie --- was born on Feb. 23, 1894 in Washington, D.C. He was the son of James D. and Eliza Smith Wheeler of Virginia.

Willie was inducted into the U.S. Army on August 5, 1918 in Steelton. At that time, his legal residence was listed as Locust Grove Bethlehem Steel Company Camp, Dauphin County. He first was assigned to Company B 7th Division BN 160th Depot Brigade until Aug. 23 of that year. Willie then was transferred to the 161st Depot Brigade until Nov. 1, 1918, when he was honorably discharged as a private.

During his tenure in the military, Willie was stationed at Camp Custer near Battle Creek, Michigan and Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois. He received no injuries during his service and was discharged just 10 days before the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany that ended World War I.

Willie is recorded as marrying Mattie Campbell on January 24, 1924 in Dauphin County when he was 30 and she was 40. In 1930 Federal Census, however, he was living as boarder at 114 Adams Street in Steelton without Mattie. He is noted then as working as a barber on his own account.

Willie D. Wheeler died on January 16, 1935 from pulmonary tuberculosis at the Dauphin County Home. He was 41 years old and survived by his father, who then was living in Fredericksburg, Virginia. A service at the Boulding Funeral Parlors in Steelton was led by Rev. O.P. Goodwin, pastor of Steelton's First Baptist Church.


History Card #283

US Flag - WWI

Trennor Thomas Beckwith was born on August 27, 1893 in Steelton. He was a son of former Virginia residents Charles W. Beckwith and Mary L. Gaddie Beckwith. The family, which included sisters Susan and Esther, lived at 162 Ridge Street in Steelton.

Trennor attended the former Steelton Hygienic School for Colored Children, which opened in 1880 at Frank S. Brown Boulevard and Bailey streets in Steelton. He graduated from the Steelton School District in 1912 and continued his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. There, he became one of the first members of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity before returning home to Steelton.

On May 28, 1918, Trennor enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the 351st Field Artillery 92nd Division. Although he enlisted during World War I, it is not known where he served. After earning the rank of corporal, Trennor was honorably discharged on March 6, 1919 after World War I ended.

After his discharge, Trennor returned to Steelton. In 1922 and 1923, he was listed as working as a bellman while living with his parents at 162 Ridge Street in Steelton. He also is listed at the same address with his parents for the 1930 U.S Census. It�s possible that Trennor even recorded his own status for that year because his occupation is listed as an enumerator for the U.S. Census.

In 1927, Trennor joined American Legion Post #479, commonly known as the African American Andrew Askins post. He served as post adjutant through the mid-1930s. Trennor continued to live at 162 Ridge Street at least through 1947 while working various jobs as a clerk, messenger and janitor despite his education.

Trennor Beckham died in the VA Hospital in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on July 27, 1957 at the age of 63. His death certificate listed him as not married. His cause of death was malnutrition caused by cancer of the esophagus and accompanied by chronic bronchitis and pneumonitis, or swelling of the lungs.


History Card #284

US Flag - WWI-ww2

Samuel Wilson was born on August 28, 1911 in Sumpter, South Carolina to Willie and Stannie Davis Wilson. In the 1930 U.S. Census, he is recorded as a boarder at 613 Forston Street in Harrisburg. He was 18 years old and working as a hotel bellboy. He also was married n 1930, but it appears that his wife wasn't part of his household. Things eventually improved for the couple, however. By 1942, Samuel and his wife Mamie were sharing a home at 302 Spruce Street in Steelton.

Samuel was enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II on March 24, 1944. He would turn 33 years old later that year. His home address was 429 Mohn Street in Steelton. Samuel served overseas from June 14, 1944 to December 16, 1945, but his application for veterans compensation doesn't specify exactly where he was stationed during the war. He was honorably discharged as a steward 3rd Class from the U.S. Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, Maryland on January 1, 1946. Samuel Wilson died suddenly on April 10, 1955 from carbon monoxide poisoning. He also had suffered from rheumatic heart disease for four years, a lasting side effect of rheumatic fever. He was just 43 years old at the time of his death.