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 firstname.lastname@example.org