Remembering: Plainfield to Gettysburg
In this third column, I am speaking to Mrs. Janet Johnson, a Nazareth High School graduate whose great-great-grandfather William Henry Heimer served with the 153rd Regiment in the Civil War. The soldier was born in Plainfield Township, Northampton County.
As a young man, you could find him plowing with horses, planting and harvesting grain on the George Bender farm in Plainfield Township.
William was first married to Anna Rebecca Schaeffer in 1851. Two weeks after their first child, Louisa Rebecca, was born, tragedy struck the family. His wife, Anna, died.
Three years later, he married Sabina Schaeffer, sister of Anna. They had six children in 17 years.
In April 1861, the nation was split by the Civil War. William was married and raising a family, but he answered the call and enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Oct. 7, 1862, in Nazareth.
Records show Company A was organized in Nazareth, and the men marched to Harrisburg, a total of 108 miles. Remember, the road system was primitive; modern highways were lacking.
The company was led by Capt. Owen Rice, a teacher in Nazareth, and Col. Charles Glanz, a German who owned the Kuebler Brewery in Easton. Glanz was wounded at Chancellorsville and taken prisoner by the Confederates. Rice was wounded in the same battle, which resulted in paralysis of the left hand.
At the time of enlistment, Mr. Heimer was a skilled bricklayer. He was assigned to the First Division Eleventh Corps Army of the Potomac.
At Gettysburg, the regiment was under the command of Col. Leopold Von Gilsa. Private Heimer fought in the epic three-day battle, which turned the tide of the war. The Confederates’ invasion of the North failed.
In January, Heimer was hospitalized with a severe cold and bleeding piles at Brooks Station in Virginia. He returned to duty in May 1863.
The 153rd Regiment was mustered out in July 1863. William and his comrades were discharged. He received $33.65 for clothing in kind or money in advance. He later joined the Lafayette Post 217 of the Grand Army of the Republic, Easton. His name is listed on the Pennsylvania Monument in Gettysburg.
In 1890, William began receiving a pension of $17 a month, which was increased to $20 in 1907.
Following his military service, William returned to his family. He and his wife had two additional daughters and a son. He worked as a bricklayer, carpenter and farmer.
William died of pneumonia Feb. 7, 1911, at the age of 82 and is buried in the old section of Plainfield Cemetery. William’s wife would die two months later.
The Heimers were primarily farmers in Plainfield. They embodied the Pennsylvania German values of faith, family and nation.
It was a pleasure to speak with Janet and Bill Johnson. Our discussions were friendly and informative. They cherish their family’s heritage and service to our nation.
We thank them for sharing their genealogy with our readers and hope to speak with them in the future.