A family’s love is forever

Chris­ti­an Henry Gudknecht died in 1879. His fam­ily, who re­cently ded­ic­ated a grave mark­er to the Civil War sol­dier, con­tin­ues to hon­or his memory today.

Alan Gudknecht, of the Far North­east, has up to 30 re­l­at­ives bur­ied at Knights of Py­thi­as Green­wood Cemetery.

About three dec­ades ago, Gudknecht first no­ticed that his great-great grand­fath­er, Civil War vet­er­an Chris­ti­an Henry Gudknecht, did not have a grave mark­er.

As the years passed, it didn’t really mat­ter, since the cemetery — at 930 Adams Ave. in North­wood — fell in­to aw­ful dis­repair. Over­growth covered many of the graves and the paths lead­ing to them.

Fi­nally, en­tit­ies af­fil­i­ated with the ad­ja­cent Can­cer Treat­ment Cen­ters of Amer­ica took con­trol of the prop­erty. Work­ers have made vast im­prove­ments to the in­teri­or and ex­ter­i­or of the grounds, and Friends of Green­wood Cemetery dir­ect­or Joanne Clare and oth­ers are key part­ners in main­tain­ing the up­keep.

The Gudknecht fam­ily se­cured a mark­er a couple of years ago, be­fore the space where Chris­ti­an Gudknecht is bur­ied was cleared.

“We wanted to have a ded­ic­a­tion, but the cemetery needed to be cleared, es­pe­cially that area,” said Louise Gudknecht Lindinger, a great-great grand­daugh­ter of the vet­er­an. “There was so much growth, you couldn’t get through the path.”

Once the grave was ac­cess­ible, the fam­ily sched­uled a me­mori­al ser­vice for last Sat­urday morn­ing.

“It was a hun­dred and thirty-two years with an un­marked grave,” Alan Gudknecht said.

Lindinger went on Face­book to urge fam­ily mem­bers to at­tend, and she was over­joyed that about 35 people from three gen­er­a­tions showed up for the ser­vice.

The Gudknecht fam­ily was joined by the Sons of the Uni­on Vet­er­ans of the Civil War. Jane Peters Estes ap­peared in full mourn­ing dress and veil, and she offered com­ments on fu­ner­al tra­di­tions of the Civil War and the role of wo­men dur­ing the war.

Amer­ic­an flags, wreaths and roses were placed at the grave for the ce­re­mony.

“It’s an im­port­ant thing to pay trib­ute to our Civil War an­cest­ors,” Lindinger said. “They all de­serve to have a mark­er, at least.”

Lindinger said she ap­pre­ci­ates the ef­forts of those re­spons­ible for the new-look Green­wood Cemetery.

“It’s very im­press­ive,” she said. “They’ve done a beau­ti­ful job.”

Chris­ti­an Henry Gudknecht, born on Sept. 9, 1828, grew up in what is now North­ern Liber­ties. He was mar­ried to Eliza­beth Acheson and had two chil­dren, John and Sarah Eliza­beth. He worked as a grain meas­urer. He died at his Fishtown home on Feb. 26, 1879, at age 50.

In the war, he served three tours of duty and was as­signed to Com­pany D, 112th Re­gi­ment, 2nd Heavy Ar­til­lery; Com­pany E of the 45th Re­gi­ment of the 1863 Emer­gency Mi­li­tia of Pennsylvania, where he rose to the rank of cor­por­al; and Com­pany D of the 187th Pennsylvania Re­gi­ment.

“He answered his pres­id­ent’s call three times,” Lindinger said proudly.

Like many oth­er sol­diers in that war, he faced deadly ill­nesses and dis­eases.

On June 18, 1864, while fight­ing in Vir­gin­ia, a rifle bul­let shattered his hu­mer­us. To pre­vent gan­grene, his left arm was am­pu­tated above the el­bow. After a lengthy hos­pit­al­iz­a­tion, he was dis­charged and sent home with a pen­sion of $8 a month.

In 1865, he served in the guard of hon­or over the re­mains of Pres­id­ent Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln in In­de­pend­ence Hall. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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