Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lynn Cavill – Member Profile

Lynn Cavill grew up in Upper Darby, attending Upper Darby High School. Graduation ceremonies were held in the Tower Theater (some Old Baldy members might remember the Tower Theater from their old concert days). After graduation, Lynn went to Drexel University to study math, but left half way through to get married. She has two daughters, Alice and Sandy, and four grandchildren, two of whom are now in the U.S. Air Force.

After a bit, Lynn got a job as a clerk with the U.S. Post Office. “While one piece of mail does not weigh a lot, handling 100,000 pieces of mail a day is a lot of work on your body.”  This inspired Lynn to return to school and get a degree from the Community College in Philadelphia in Electronic Engineering Technology. This, in turn, helped her become an electronic technician for the Post Office, where she helped maintain the computer-operated mail processing equipment. She was the only woman doing this work at her facility and was fortunate to have good bosses during her career with the Postal Service.

One perk of her new job was that she travelled periodically to Norman, Oklahoma for training. Asked what are some of the positives about visiting Oklahoma, Lynn chuckled, “It’s not New Jersey.” But more seriously, Lynn was impressed with Oklahoma’s big sky. “You can see for miles,” she noted, though being in the plains also gets very windy.  It also gave her an opportunity to see her maternal aunt and cousins, who live in eastern Oklahoma.

Travel is something Lynn really enjoys – especially her six Rick Steves’ tours. Some favorites include Paris & South France; Brussels & Amsterdam and several visits to Germany. But the trip that stands out is her journey to Normandy in 2011 with her 15-year-old grandson (now in the Air Force). She fondly recalls his hopping into trenches and pill boxes, their visit to the American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Sainte Mere Eglise, and other sites. At dinner one night, her grandson ordered the special, which he happily discovered came with a glass of wine (age limits on wine and beer are more lenient in Europe).

Lynn’s hobbies include quilting, which she’s been able to focus on since her retirement a few years ago (she likes using 1850-1900 reproduction design fabrics in her quilts), and genealogy. This latter interest has led her to a couple of ancestors who fought in the Civil War. On her father’s side, she discovered her great-grandmother’s brother, Private Arnold M. Nichols, who grew up in Chester County, PA. He joined the 9-month 124th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, which mustered into service in August of 1862. With less than a month of training, the 124th was sent to Antietam, where it fought near the East Woods, trading volleys with Confederate infantry in the Cornfield and supporting nearby Union artillery. They suffered 50 casualties that day.  The 124th also fought at Chancellorsville before being mustered out later that month. Lynn spent many days at the Federal Building in Philadelphia, looking through rolls of microfilm to find out more about her ancestor. She discovered his 1903 petition asking the government to increase his $12/month pension. Lynn does not know if his petition was ever granted.

And on her mother’s side, she learned of her great-great-grandfather, Private George W. Goff, who fought for the South with the 8th Arkansas infantry at Shiloh before transferring to a local cavalry unit (Price’s), where he served the remainder of the war.

Lynn’s favorite Civil War site is Gettysburg where, in addition to the battlefield, she enjoys waking around the town. She noted that her visit to Gettysburg contrasted with her first visit to Antietam, which is more secluded. At Antietam, she forgot to take water with her and realized too late that there was nowhere nearby to get something to drink.

Lynn has always been interested in history, and when a friend mentioned the Old Baldy Civil War Round table to her eight and a half years ago, she joined up. And we’re glad she did.

George Brewer Jr – Member Profile

Dennisville, NJ has been home to retired sawmill owner George Brewer since he was nine years old. Founded in 1726, the area is known historically for shipbuilding and lumbering, and the Atlantic white cedar timber that is both standing and submerged in its swamplands. Early settlers used the swamp cedar for many purposes – shingles, flooring, furniture – and in George’s hands almost 1,500 picnic tables.       

George was born into a farming family in 1935 in Woodbury, NJ. Eighteen years later he graduated from Middle Township High School in Cape May County.

His first job was as a carpenter. Between his junior and senior year in high school George and his father built a house. In 1958 George left carpentry and went to work in his dad’s sawmill in Dennisville. They mined standing cedar from swampland they owned and milled it to fill custom orders. “The mill was no further advanced than one you could have found in the early 1900s.” They became partners in both the mill and a small campground his father owned called Cedar Lake. George took over the businesses when his father retired in the 1960s.

George employed one person to help him fell the trees and haul the logs to his mill. The Brewer Sawmill supplied cedar planking for boat docks, duck and bird decoys, and for other purposes where it will be called on to resist rot and insects. Indeed, the mill provided the cedar to build some of the surf boats used by lifeguards on the East Coast for rescues. George built over 1,000 picnic tables for local campgrounds in the 1980s. “I appreciate a nice stand of cedar; it’s a renewable source that has to be used.”

In 1999 George shut down the sawmill and sold the campground. He recently developed a piece of wooded land he owns into a residential subdivision in Dennisville. He has been married to Joyce Brewer for 66 years and they have two children.

There is more to George’s story than wetland muck and staggering screws in two-by-fours. His family is armed with knowledge of two of George’s ancestors with ties to the Civil War era. The first is his great-grandmother’s brother Josiah Franklin who served in the 12th NJ with training in Woodbury. The second is his great-grandfather William P. Schellenger of Clementon, NJ who, as a second class fireman aboard the USS Montauk on April 25, 1865, guarded the body of one John Wilkes Booth before and after his autopsy. Mr. Schellenger stood eight feet away from the carpenter’s bench where Booth lay on the monitor. The ironclad was anchored in the Anacostia River off the Washington Navy Yard, D.C.

George, an Old Baldy member for 8 ½ years, has visited Vicksburg National Military Park and the Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia. He is a member of the General Meade Society and a 20-year member of The Civil War Roundtable of Cape May County, NJ.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Blattner Wayne – Member Profile

            Born in Norristown, PA in 1953, Wayne’s Civil War interest seems foreordained. He attended the Abraham Lincoln elementary school and as a Cub/Boy Scout (fortunate to earn Eagle Scout in 1968), participated in the Norristown Memorial Day parades which ended at the Montgomery Cemetery, where the Scouts placed flags on the graves of local Civil War veterans.

            After high school, Wayne studied at a technical drafting school in Reading, PA, where he received a certificate of Drafting and Design. This launched him on his career of drafting electrical engineering diagrams showing the locations of the electrical wiring, outlets, light receptacles, and fire alarms for building renovations and construction. Though Wayne jokingly referred to himself as “the dinosaur in the room” because all the other engineers had degrees, he had great bosses who helped him advance his skills. He worked 24 years as a Senior Electrical Designer for Bala Consulting Engineers in King of Prussia and retired in 2020 from his final job at Kupper Engineering in Ambler, PA.  

            As a kid, Wayne attended Camp Innabah in Chester County. He liked it so much that in his late teens he took a second job joining the camp support staff. This proved fortuitous as he met his future wife, Cheryl, there in 1975. She was working in the program staff, as a camp counselor. They hit it off and got married two years later, moving to Royersford, PA. They have two children – Kurt (who is also an Eagle Scout) and Corrine, born in 1982 and 1985, respectively.

            Wayne’s Civil War interest stems from a family reunion in the late 1980s. He was talking to his great aunt, who told him that when she was a child, she often spoke with her two grandfathers, both of whom fought in the Civil War. These were Mills Williamson, who served first with the 4th PA Infantry (a 90-day unit) and then the 95th PA Infantry (part of Upton’s VI Corps brigade), while William Charles was with the 5th PA Cavalry. William Charles was a widower who lived his final years with Wayne’s great aunt’s family. This inspired Wayne to research his great-great grandfathers’ Civil War service.

            Then in 1990, Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary came out and Wayne was hooked. He did additional research and learned of five other relatives who fought in the Civil War, one of whom, John Burnett, also served in the 95th PA Infantry. Burnett’s sister, Martha, married Mills Williamson, and the two brothers-in-law enlisted together in the 95th PA after Williamson’s service with the 4th PA ended. Wayne also discovered that Williamson was wounded during Grant’s May 12, 1864 attack at Spotsylvania’s Bloody Angle. Later, Wayne was on a tour of the Spotsylvania battlefield with the legendary Ed Bearss (one of his six Ed Bearss tours). The night before the tour he asked if the next day Ed could show him where his ancestor got wounded and Ed said OK. The next day was a hot, humid, 95-degree scorcher. As the day and tour drew to a close and people began returning to the buses, Wayne figured Ed must have forgotten their conversation. Suddenly, Ed called out, “WHO’S THE GUY FROM THE 95th PA?!!!!”  Wayne meekly raised his hand and Ed walked him over to the spot where the 95th PA did its fighting and where his great-great grandfather probably got wounded.

            Wayne’s favorite Civil War books include Gordon Rhea’s volumes on Grant’s Overland Campaign as well as Eric Wittenberg’s books on cavalry engagements. His favorite battlefields are Gettysburg, where three of his ancestors fought, followed closely by Antietam. Besides Old Baldy, which Wayne joined in 1995, he belongs to many other Civil War organizations, such as the Civil War Round Table of Montgomery County, which meets in Norristown (Wayne’s “home” Round Table); the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, General Hartranft Camp #15, which meets in Harrisburg; the Gettysburg Foundation; and the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, which also organizes Civil War tours.

            Wayne’s other outside interests include both model trains and vintage steam engine trains. While his model train setups as a kid were limited to layouts around the tree at Christmas, later in the 1980s and 90s, he began to take 1–2-day steam engine excursions, ranging from the more local Scranton to the Poconos trips to a 2–day steam engine outing from San Jose, CA to San Francisco and back. One possible train inspiration was Wayne’s maternal grandfather, who worked as a fireman and then an engineer for the Reading Railroad. Wayne must have thought of him every time he “took a ride on the Reading” when playing Monopoly. In addition, Wayne is an avid ancestry.com guy who has researched over 35 families for family members and friends. He has traced his own family tree back to his 7th great-grandparents, who were part of the Schwenkfelder 1734 migration from the Poland/Germany area of Europe. They came to William Penn’s new colony to escape Europe’s religious intolerance and most settled in Montgomery County.

            Wayne’s Civil War connections start with his ancestors who fought in the war and continue today to his numerous Civil War groups which, happily, include the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table. 

Frank Barletta – Member Profile

In 2015 Frank Barletta went on a road trip to middle Tennessee to retrace the steps of the 101st Ohio Volunteer Infantry and one of its men, then Private George S. Myers, from Stone River to Chickamauga, Georgia, where the regiment fought September 19-20, 1863 in the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. For his actions on the 19th – he “saved the regimental colors by great personal devotion and bravery” – Sergeant Myers, promoted May 1, 1865, was awarded the Medal of Honor. (Frank wrote a lengthy story about his trip for the November 11, 2015 issue of the Old Baldy newsletter.)

Since the journey South, Frank has been fascinated with the life of Sergeant Myers, so much so “I’m going to write a book. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish.” He is trying to find information about the before and after of the Sergeant’s time in the Civil War (1862-1865) by reading newspapers, diaries of the regiment soldiers, and maps. “I’m a maps guy. I love studying maps. Every step that George made, I followed along.” Given where Frank spent the early part of his life, his book could very well be about the Revolutionary War.

Born in 1943 in Boston Massachusetts, Frank spent 35 years in New England and the rest of his time in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. When he was ten, Frank worked during the summer at his father’s heavy construction company and his job was to fill the kerosine “bombs” or lanterns used to alert drivers of nearby construction work. His mom used to make him wear rain gear because it was a dirty and smelly task. Frank picked up another skill on the job – cleaning lumber or taking the nails out of planks. A kid being a kid, Frank decided to hammer the nails back in instead and he could do it with two or three strikes of the hammer. The neighborhood kids found out how fast he was and would give him twenty-five cents to hit nails at the town carnival and win them a prize. Frank won every time.

Grown-up Frank graduated in 1961 from Catholic Memorial High School, and then went on to St. Anselm College in New Hampshire where he earned a BA in Economics. He worked 37 years for Collier International; head of facilities for 30 years, selling churches for seven.

Away from real estate, Frank has been a seven-year volunteer for the New Jersey Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. His primary job is to advocate for people living in long-term care facilities by investigating and resolving complaints made by them or by others on their behalf. “The work is critical. Covid showed that some of these places are not great.” 

With a love for history, Frank is or has been involved with numerous related organizations and projects. In 1976, Frank, with his American Revolution living historians group, recreated a British Army Grenadier with the 3rd Regiment of Foot to serve as an honor guard for Queen Elizabeth II when she visited the Concord and Lexington Battlefield site for our nation’s Bicentennial. He made his own clothing, even his own bearskin hat.

As a 10-year member of the Old Baldy CWRT, Frank has served as a board member and is currently treasurer, a position he has held for the past five years. In October 2018 Frank spearheaded the Civil War Naval Symposium on board the Battleship New Jersey in her berth at Camden (Delaware River). It featured several well-known experts in the history of the Civil War navies, sixteen exhibitors, and period songs. “I’m very proud of putting that together. It was a grand affair. The first time a Civil War Naval symposium was onboard the ship.” 

Frank is on the advisory committee for Homecoming 250 Navy Marine Corps, a charity created to host the main celebrations of the Navy and Marine Corps 250th birthdays in 2025 in Philadelphia and on the Delaware River. (Speaking of history, Frank’s grandfather is a second cousin to Harry S. Truman!)

Horseshoes, bowling, pickleball, Tai-Chi – they all keep Frank feeling fit and young-er. Oh yeah, and he is a BIG Phillies fan. Frank’s wife, Sandy, bought him in July 2017 a gift certificate to take a yoga class at the ballpark. On the field. With hundreds of other people. A free ticket to the Phillies evening game was the reward. “The best gift my wife ever gave me! It was the coolest thing! Even the Philly Phanatic did yoga!

Frank and his wife, Sandy, share 41 years of marriage. They live in Marlton, New Jersey with their two rescue dogs, Shiloh and Wally.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Meeting of January 9, 2025

Meeting of January 9, 2025, 7:15pm

James Pula on Union General Daniel Butterfield: A Civil War Biography

This book explores the complex legacy of Union General Daniel Butterfield, from his battlefield heroics and Medal of Honor to controversies and innovations that shaped the Civil War. James S. Pula unravels this enigmatic figure’s life in this meticulously researched and long-awaited biography.
Dan Butterfield played a pivotal role during the Civil War. He led troops in the field at the brigade, division, and corps level, wrote an 1862 Army field manual, was awarded a Medal of Honor, composed “Taps,” and served as the chief-of-staff for Joe Hooker in the Army of the Potomac. He introduced a custom that remains in the U.S. Army today: the use of a distinctive hat or shoulder patch to denote the soldier’s unit. Butterfield was also controversial, not well-liked by some, and tainted by politics. Award-winning author James S. Pula unspools fact from fiction to offer the first detailed and long overdue treatment of the man and the officer in Union General Daniel Butterfield: A Civil War Biography.

James S. Pula is a professor of History Emeritus at Purdue University Northwest and the former editor-in-chief of Gettysburg Magazine. Dr. Pula is the author or editor of more than two dozen books including Under the Crescent Moon with the Eleventh Corps in the Civil War (winner of the U. S. Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award); The Civil War from Its Origins to Reconstruction; The 117th New York Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster; For Liberty and Justice: A Biography of Brig. Gen. Włodzimierz B. Krzyżanowski; and The Sigel Regiment: A History of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865 (winner of the Gambrinus Prize in History from the Milwaukee County Historical Society).