We have said it many time, if you want to find out the rich history of a town or village, go to the town's cemetery. Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg is a prime example, and here you will find many stories of those who where there during the Civil War battle of Gettysburg.
We have visited the Evergreen Cemetery every time we have traveled to Gettysburg, and in most cases several times during those visits. Looking for the graves sites of towns people once we find out a new story seems to have become a task of our Gettysburg visits.
It is not hard to find the cemetery, but most people think that it is part of the National Park Service, National Cemetery. The cemetery is right next to the National Cemetery, and in fact the Dedication of the National Cemetery (and Gettysburg Address) was conducted on the grounds of Evergreen Cemetery. Evergreen Cemetery is located at 799 Baltimore St, Gettysburg, PA 17325.
Although we are not listing every notable grave site in Evergreen Cemetery, below is a list of some of the graves for notable people from Gettysburg that we have conducted some additional research about. As we finish the blog pages, we will come back to this one and link to them as well.
James Gettys (1759-1815)
On October 9, 1786, Gettys purchased 116 acres of his father's property during a bankruptcy auction for 790 pounds. The valuable land was in the crossroads of York Road and Black Gap Road (Baltimore Road). The legal transfer was officially recognized by John Penn and John Penn, Jr., on April 17, 1787 and entered into the York County Court records on April 18, 1787. In late 1786, James Gettys took the 116 acres and divided them into 220 lots. He held an official lottery in which area citizens purchased the rights to buy one or more lots. This is recognized as the official beginning of the town originally named Gettystown.
In March 1815, many members of the Gettys family died of what was thought to be Typhus Fever, spread from the epidemic in Maryland. On March 15, 1815, after 11 days of illness, James Gettys died. In total, the disease killed five people in his family, leaving his two young sons, James, Jr., and Robert Todd, orphans.
James Gettys was originally buried in Gettysburg Presbyterian Church's cemetery at Washington and Railroad Street. When the church moved to its current location, James Gettys, Jr., paid for his parents' exhumation and reburial in Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Wikipedia).
David Wills (February 3, 1831 – October 25, 1894)
David Wills was the principal figure in the establishment of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As a result of his efforts, the Gettysburg Address was given by Abraham Lincoln. Wills was Lincoln's host while in Gettysburg, and the Gettysburg Address was completed in the large upstairs bedroom occupied by the President during his brief stay in the town.
He opened a law office in Gettysburg in 1853. He was elected Burgess of the Borough of Gettysburg. He was elected the first County Superintendent of Schools of Adams County, and on him devolved the organization of the new school system. He was also elected director of the Bank of Gettysburg in 1854 and served until 1860 when he was succeeded by his father, James Wills, who served until 1867 (Wikipedia).
Elizabeth Thorn (1832-1907) and Peter Thorn (1826–1907)
Peter Thorn was the original caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery. He enlisted and went off to fight in the Civil Ware, and his wife Elizabeth took over his duties at the cemetery. Find out more about her story with our blog post, "The Angel of Gettysburg".
Mary Virginia Wade (May 21, 1843 – July 3, 1863)
Mary Virginia Wade, also known as Jennie Wade or Ginnie Wade, was a resident of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the Battle of Gettysburg. At the age of 20, she was the only direct civilian casualty of the battle, when she was killed by a stray bullet on July 3, 1863 (Wikipedia).
Johnston Hastings "Jack" Skelly Jr. (1841–1863)
Johnston Hastings "Jack" Skelly Jr. was a Union soldier — a corporal in the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry — who died as a result of wounds sustained at the Second Battle of Winchester. He was the friend, and possibly fiancé, of the only civilian to die in the Battle of Gettysburg, Ginnie Wade. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, near Wade's grave (Wikipedia).
John Lawrence Burns (September 5, 1793 – February 4, 1872)
John Lawrence Burns, veteran of the War of 1812, became a 69-year-old civilian combatant with the Union Army at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. He was wounded, but survived to become a national celebrity (Wikipedia).
Edward McPherson (July 31, 1830 – December 14, 1895)
Edward McPherson was a Pennsylvania newspaper editor and politician who served two terms in the United States House of Representatives, as well as multiple terms as the Clerk of the House of Representatives. As a director of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, he effected efforts to protect and mark portions of the Gettysburg Battlefield (Wikipedia).
Edward Stewart Plank (August 31, 1875 – February 24, 1926)
Edward Stewart Plank, nicknamed "Gettysburg Eddie", was an American professional baseball player. A pitcher, Plank played in Major League Baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 through 1914, the St. Louis Terriers in 1915, and the St. Louis Browns in 1916 and 1917.
Plank was the first left-handed pitcher to win 200 games and then 300 games, and now ranks third in all-time wins among left-handers with 326 career victories (eleventh all time) and first all-time in career shutouts by a left-handed pitcher with 66. Philadelphia went to the World Series five times while Plank played there, but he sat out the 1910 World Series due to an injury. Plank had only a 1.32 earned run average (ERA) in his World Series career, but he was unlucky, with a 2–5 win–loss record in those games.
Plank died of a stroke in 1926. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946 (Wikipedia).