Sergeant Phaon A. Guth

Lehigh County Court House, Allentown, Pennsylvania, c. 1850 (public domain)

Born in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 23 April 1836, Phaon A. Guth a member of the Jordan Reformed Church. By the mid-19th century, he had wed Carolina Guth (1835-1912), and greeted the arrival of the first two of his six children – Rodger and Dora, who were born in Lehigh County sometime around 1858 and 1859, respectively.

As a new decade dawned, the federal census confirmed that Phaon Guth and his growing family were residents of South Whitehall Township in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania in 1860, and that Phaon was employed as a teamster. Also residing at home with Phaon and his wife, Caroline, and their son, Rodger (aged 2), and 10-month-old daughter, Dora, was 16-year-old housekeeper, Emilia Keefer.

Another daughter, Mary (1861-1911), opened her eyes at the Guth home for the first time on 15 September 1861 – as more and more of their family and friends headed South to help preserve their nation’s union.

Civil War

On 26 September 1862, Phaon A. Guth became another of the many Lehigh County men who enrolled for military service during the opening years of America’s tragic Civil War. After mustering in for duty at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County as a Sergeant with Company K of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, he then connected with his regiment via a recruiting depot on 13 October. He could not know it at the time, but he was about to face one of the most dangerous periods of his entire life.

The Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina

The challenging environment of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad was illustrated by Harper’s Weekly in 1865.

From 21-23 October, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman Good and Lieutenant Colonel George Warren (“G. W.”) Alexander, Sergeant Phaon A. Guth and his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Infantrymen joined with other Union regiments to engage the heavily protected Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina – including at Frampton’s Plantation and the Pocotaligo Bridge – a key piece of the South’s railroad infrastructure which Union leaders felt should be destroyed.

Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, they met resistance from yet another entrenched, heavily fortified Confederate battery which opened fire on the Union troops as they entered an open cotton field.

Pocotaligo-Coosawhatchie Expedition, 21-23 October 1862 (Union Army map, public domain).

Those headed toward higher ground at the Frampton Plantation fared no better as they encountered artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests. But the Union soldiers would not give in; grappling with the Confederates where they found them, they pursued the Rebels for four miles as the Confederate Army retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th relieved the 7th Connecticut.

Unfortunately, the enemy was just too well armed. After two hours of intense fighting in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, the 47th was forced by depleted ammunition supplies to withdraw to Mackey’s Point.

Losses for the 47th Pennsylvania were significant. Captain Charles Mickley of G Company died where he fell from a gunshot wound to his head while K Company Private John McConnell was also killed in action.

K Company Captain George Junker was mortally wounded by a minie ball from a Confederate rifle during the intense fighting near the Frampton Plantation, as were Privates Abraham Landes (alternate spelling: “Landis”) and Joseph Louis (alternate spelling: “Lewis”). All three died the next day while being treated for their wounds at the Union Army’s General Hospital at Hilton Head, South Carolina. The command vacancy created when Captain George Junker fell in battle at Pocotaligo was immediately filled when 1st Lieutenant Charles W. Abbott was advanced to the rank of Captain that same day.

In the aftermath, Private John Schuchard, who had also been mortally wounded at Pocotaligo, died from his wounds at Hilton Head on 24 October. Private Gottlieb Fiesel, who had also sustained a head wound, survived both his grievous wound and resulting surgery; however, he contracted meningitis while recuperating and passed away at Hilton Head on 9 November 1862. He, too, was interred at the Beaufort National Cemetery. Private Edward Frederick lasted a short while longer, finally succumbing to brain fever on 16 February 1863 at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. He was initially buried at the fort’s parade grounds.

But K Company’s Corporals John Bischoff and Manoah J. Carl and Privates Jacob F. Hertzog, Frederick Knell, Samuel Kunfer, Samuel Reinert, John Schimpf, William Schrank, and Paul Strauss were among those wounded in action who rallied. Private Strauss miraculously survived an artillery shell wound to his right shoulder, recuperated, and continued to serve with the regiment. Privates Hertzog and Knell were discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability on 24 February and 9 May 1863, respectively, and sent home to the Keystone State.

By 23 October, the 47th Pennsylvania was encamped at Hilton Head; several members of the regiment were then assigned to serve as the funeral Honor Guard for General Ormsby McKnight Mitchel, the commander of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps and Department of the South who had succumbed to yellow fever on 30 October. The Mountains of Mitchel, a part of Mars’ South Pole discovered by Mitchel in 1846 while working as a University of Cincinnati astronomer, and Mitchelville, the first Freedmen’s town created after the Civil War, were both later named for him. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.

1863

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Florida (interior, c. 1934, C.E. Peterson, photographer, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November 1862, much of 1863 was spent garrisoning federal installations in Florida as part of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps, Department of the South. The men of K Company joined with Companies D, F, and H in garrisoning Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. So remotely situated off the coast of Florida was this Union outpost that it was accessible only by ship.

Meanwhile, Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I continued to guard Key West’s Fort Taylor.

1864

On 25 February 1864, the 47th set off for a phase of service in which the regiment would truly make history. Steaming for New Orleans aboard the Charles Thomas, the men arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February. Transported next by train to Brashear City and following another steamer ride – this time to Franklin via the Bayou Teche, the 47th joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps, becoming the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign spearheaded by Union General Nathaniel P. Banks.

From 14-26 March, the 47th passed through New Iberia, Vermillionville, Opelousas, and Washington while en route to Alexandria and Natchitoches. Often short on food and water while slogging through an unbearably harsh climate in challenging terrain, the remaining members of the regiment encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day.

19th U.S. Army Map, Phase 3, Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield (8 April 1864, public domain).

Marching until mid-afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians were then rushed into battle ahead of other regiments in the 2nd Division. Sixty members of the 47th were cut down on 8 April during the volley of fire unleashed during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads (Mansfield). The fighting waned only when darkness fell. The exhausted, but uninjured collapsed beside the gravely wounded. After midnight, the surviving Union troops withdrew to Pleasant Hill. Company K’s 2nd Lieutenant Alfred P. Swoyer was one of those killed in action at Mansfield.

The next day, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered into a critically important defensive position at the far right of the Union lines, their right flank spreading up onto a high bluff. By 3 p.m., after enduring a midday charge by the troops of Confederate General Richard Taylor (a plantation owner who was the son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, just as the 47th was shifting to the left side of the massed Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.

Casualties were severe. Privates Nicholas Hagelgans, Jacob Madder and Samuel Wolf of K Company were all killed in action. The regiment’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander, was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color-bearers, both from Company C, were also seriously wounded while preventing the American flag from falling into enemy hands.

Still others from the 47th were captured by Confederate troops. Held initially as prisoners of war at Pleasant Hill and Mansfield, Louisiana, they were subsequently marched roughly 125 miles to Camp Ford, a Confederate Army prison camp near Tyler, Texas, and held there as POWs until they were released during prisoner exchanges on 22 July and in August, September and November. Private Ben Zellner of K Company, who ended up being wounded in action a total of four times during 1864, was one of the men carted off to Camp Ford. Shot in the leg during the Battle of Pleasant Hill, he also lost an eye that same day. After some time at Camp Ford near Tyler Texas, he then became one of 300 to 400 men deemed well enough by CSA officials to be shipped to Shreveport, Louisiana for transport by rail to the notorious Confederate POW camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Held there until his release in September 1864, Zellner recovered and continued to serve with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Following what some historians have called a rout by Confederates at Pleasant Hill and others have labeled a technical victory for the Union or a draw for both sides, the 47th Pennsylvanians fell back to Grand Ecore to resupply and regroup until 22 April. Retreating to Alexandria, they and their fellow Union soldiers next scored a clear victory against the Confederates at Cane Hill.

Christened “Bailey’s Dam” for Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey, the officer overseeing its construction, this timber dam built by the Union Army on the Red River in Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 facilitated Union gunboat passage (public domain).

On 23 April, the 47th Pennsylvania and its brigade engaged in combat at Cane River (also known as the Battle of Monett’s Ferry). From April 30 to 10 May, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey, the remaining men of Company K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians helped to build a dam to enable federal gunboats to more easily traverse the rapids of the Red River.

Then, beginning 16 May, Sergeant Phaon Guth and his fellow K Company comrades moved with the majority of the 47th from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, Louisiana.

Removed from command amid the controversy over the Union Army’s successes and failures during the Red River Expedition, Union General Nathaniel P. Banks was placed on leave by President Abraham Lincoln. Banks subsequently spent much of his time in Washington, D.C. as a Reconstruction advocate for Louisiana.

Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Undaunted by their travails in Bayou country, the majority of 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers willingly continued their fight to preserve the Union during the summer of 1864. After receiving orders on the 4th of July to return to the East Coast, they did so in two stages.

Companies A, C, D, E, F, H, and I steamed for the Washington, D.C. area beginning 7 July while the men from Companies B, G and K remained behind on detached duty and to await transportation. Led by F Company Captain Henry S. Harte, they finally sailed away at the end of the month, arrived in Virginia on 28 July, and reconnected with the bulk of the regiment at Monocacy, Virginia on 2 August. Due to the delay, the boys from K Company missed out on a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln, and also missed the fighting at Snicker’s Gap, Virginia.

Back together again and attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah beginning in August, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was assigned to defensive duties in and around Halltown, Virginia in early August. Engaged over the next several weeks in a series of back-and-forth movements between Halltown, Berryville and other locations within the vicinity (Middletown, Charlestown and Winchester), the 47th became part of a mimic warwaged by Sheridan’s Union forces with Confederate troops commanded by Lieutenant-General Jubal Early.

The next major encounter for the 47th Pennsylvania was the Battle of Berryville, Virginia from 3-4 September. By mid-month, the regiment’s ranks began to thin significantly the departure of multiple officers and enlisted men whose three-year terms of service had expired, including: Company D’s Captain Henry Woodruff, E Company’s Captain Charles H. Yard and Captain Henry S. Harte of F Company, as well as K Company Sergeants Peter Reinmiller and Conrad Volkenwond (alternate spelling: “Volkonand”), Corporals Lewis Benner and George Knuck, and Privates Valentine Amend, M. Bornschier, Charles Fisher, Charles Heiney, Jacob Kentzler, John Koldhoff, Anthony Krause, Elias Leh, Samuel Madder, Lewis Metzger, Alfred Muthard, John Schimpf, John Scholl, and Christopher Ulrich. All mustered out at Berryville, Virginia on 18 September 1864 upon expiration of their respective three-year terms of service. Those members of the 47th who remained on duty were about to engage in their regiment’s greatest moments of valor.

Battles of Opequan and Fisher’s Hill, September 1864

Together with other regiments under the command of Union General Philip H. (“Little Phil”) Sheridan and Brigadier-General William H. Emory, commander of the 19th Corps, the members of Company K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians helped to inflict heavy casualties on Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Confederate forces Battle of Opequan (also spelled as “Opequon” and referred to as “Third Winchester”). The battle is still considered by many historians to be one of the most important during Sheridan’s 1864 campaign; the Union’s victory here helped to ensure the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.

Battle of Opequan (aka Third Winchester), Virginia, 19 September 1864 (public domain).

The 47th Pennsylvania’s march toward destiny at Opequan began at 2 a.m. on 19 September 1864 as the regiment left camp and joined up with others in the Union’s 19th Corps. Advancing slowly from Berryville toward Winchester, the march of the 19th Corps bogged down for several hours due to the massive movement of Union troops and supply wagons, enabling Early’s men to dig in. The fighting, which began in earnest at noon in the area surrounding the Opequan Creek, was long and brutal. The Union’s left flank (6th Corps) took a beating from Confederate artillery stationed on high ground.

Meanwhile, the 47th Pennsylvania and the 19th Corps were directed by General William Emory to attack and pursue Major General John B. Gordon’s Confederate forces. Some success was achieved, but casualties mounted as a Confederate artillery group opened fire on Union troops trying to cross a clearing. When a nearly fatal gap began to open between the 6th and 19th Corps, Sheridan sent in units led by Brigadier-Generals Emory Upton and David A. Russell. Russell, hit twice – once in the chest, was mortally wounded. The 47th Pennsylvania opened its lines long enough to enable the Union cavalry under William Woods Averell and the foot soldiers of General George Crook to charge the Confederates’ left flank.

The 19th Corps, with the 47th in the thick of the fighting, then began pushing the Confederates back. Early’s “grays” retreated in the face of the valor displayed by Sheridan’s “blue jackets.” Leaving 2,500 wounded behind, the Rebels retreated to Fisher’s Hill, eight miles south of Winchester (21-22 September), and then to Waynesboro, following a successful early morning flanking attack by Sheridan’s Union men which outnumbered Early’s three to one. Afterward, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were sent out on skirmishing parties before making camp at Cedar Creek.

Moving forward, the surviving members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers would continue to distinguish themselves in battle, but they would do so without two more of their respected commanders – Colonel Tilghman H. Good  and Good’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel George Alexander, who mustered out 23-24 September upon the expiration of their respective terms of service. They were replaced with leaders who were equally respected for their front line experience and temperament, including Major John Peter Shindel Gobin, formerly of the 47th’s Company C, who had been promoted up through the regimental staff to the rank of Major (and who would be promoted again on 4 November to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and regimental commanding officer).

Battle of Cedar Creek, October 1864

Battlefields of Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek, VA (U.S. Engineers’ Map, Lt. Col. G. L. Gillespie, 1873, public domain).

During the Fall of 1864, General Sheridan began the first of the Union’s true “scorched earth” campaigns, starving the enemy into submission by destroying Virginia’s farming infrastructure. Viewed through today’s lens of history as inhumane, the strategy claimed many innocents – civilians whose lives were cut short by their inability to find food. This same strategy, however, almost certainly contributed to the further turning of the war’s tide in the Union’s favor during the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864. Successful throughout most of their engagement with Union forces at Cedar Creek, Early’s Confederate troops began peeling off in ever growing numbers to forage for food, thus enabling the 47th Pennsylvania and others under Sheridan’s command to rally and win the day.

From a military standpoint, it was another impressive, but heartrending encounter. During the morning of 19 October, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. Early’s men were able to capture Union weapons while freeing a number of Confederates who had been taken prisoner during previous battles – all while pushing seven Union divisions back. According to Bates:

When the Army of West Virginia, under Crook, was surprised and driven from its works, the Second Brigade, with the Forty-seventh on the right, was thrown into the breach to arrest the retreat…. Scarcely was it in position before the enemy came suddenly upon it, under the cover of fog. The right of the regiment was thrown back until it was almost a semi-circle. The brigade, only fifteen hundred strong, was contending against Gordon’s entire division, and was forced to retire, but, in comparative good order, exposed, as it was, to raking fire. Repeatedly forming, as it was pushed back, and making a stand at every available point, it finally succeeded in checking the enemy’s onset, when General Sheridan suddenly appeared upon the field, who ‘met his crest-fallen, shattered battalions, without a word of reproach, but joyously swinging his cap, shouted to the stragglers, as he rode rapidly past them – “Face the other way, boys! We are going back to our camp! We are going to lick them out of their boots!’”

The Union’s counterattack punched Early’s forces into submission, and the men of the 47th were commended for their heroism by General Stephen Thomas who, in 1892, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his own “distinguished conduct in a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, in which the advance of the enemy was checked” that day. Bates described the 47th’s actions:

When the final grand charge was made, the regiment moved at nearly right angles with the rebel front. The brigade charged gallantly, and the entire line, making a left wheel, came down on his flank, while engaging the Sixth Corps, when he went “whirling up the valley” in confusion. In the pursuit to Fisher’s Hill, the regiment led, and upon its arrival was placed on the skirmish line, where it remained until twelve o’clock noon of the following day. The army was attacked at early dawn…no respite was given to take food until the pursuit was ended.

Once again, casualties for the 47th were high. Sergeant William Pyers, the C Company man who had so gallantly rescued the flag at Pleasant Hill was cut down and later buried on the battlefield. Privates Lewis Berliner and and Lewis Schneck of K Company were killed in action, as was Private Moses Klotz, who sustained a fatal head wound. Private John Kolb (alternate spelling: “Kolp”) died two days later – from an unseen foe. He succumbed to typhoid fever at the Jarvis General Hospital in Baltimore on 21 October 1864 while Private Philip W. Detzius (alternate spelling: “Datzius”) died from disease-related complications at the Union Army’s Lovell General Hospital at Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island on 9 November 1864.

Sergeant William H. Burger of Company K fought valiantly to survive the wound to his head by an artillery shell fragment or musket ball which compressed his brain, but ultimately died from that traumatic brain injury on 5 November 1864 at the Union Army’s Satterlee General Hospital in Philadelphia. Private Harrison Fegely was seriously enough wounded that, after recuperating, he was transferred to Company E of the 21st Regiment, 1st Battalion of the Veteran Reserve Corps (also known as the “invalid corps”) while 1st Lieutenant David K. Fetherolf, also seriously wounded in battle, returned home to Heidelberg Township in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania after recuperating enough to be discharged on 17 November 1864. He survived until the Summer of 1865. Nearly half a century later, at their annual regimental reunion in 1907, his former comrades celebrated his bravery that terrible day at Cedar Creek, and recalled his burial with full military honors, including the salute fired over his grave by the Allen Rifles.

K Company Corporals Joseph Frack and William Landis were more fortunate, as was Private James Strauss; wounded in action, they survived and continued to serve with the regiment, as did Regimental Chaplain William Rodrock, who suffered a near miss when a bullet pierced his cap. Private Benjamin Zellner, twice wounded during the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana and subsequently held as a POW at two different Confederate prison camps, was wounded again – twice – during the Battle of Cedar Creek (via a gunshot wound to his right ankle and by bayonet so grievously that the wound reportedly never healed properly).

Still others were captured and held as prisoners of war, several of whom died while being held at the Confederate Army’s prison camp at Salisbury, North Carolina. In addition, another member of the 47th ended up at the Rebels’ version of Hell – the Andersonville prison in Georgia.  Sergeant William Fry of Company C survived long enough to be released and sent home to Pennsylvania only to die in Sunbury, Pennsylvania a few short months falling ill while confined as a POW.

Following these major engagements, the 47th was ordered to Camp Russell near Winchester from November through most of December. Rested and somewhat healed, the 47th was then ordered to outpost and railroad guard duties at Camp Fairview in Charlestown, West Virginia. Five days before Christmas they trudged through a snowstorm in order to reach their new home.

1865 – 1866

New responsibilities arrived with the New Year of 1865 as Captain Charles W. Abbott was promoted from his leadership of K Company to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with the 47th Pennsylvania’s central command staff on 3 January. Matthias Miller was then awarded command of Company K the following day, promoted from his role as 2nd Lieutenant to Captain on 4 January 1865. On 23 January, Sergeant Elias F. Benner was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, and 1st Sergent Franklin Beisel advanced to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. The next day, Sergeant George J. Scherer  became 1st Sergeant Scherer, and Corporal John Bischoff, who had been wounded in action during the Battle of Pocotaligo, was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Corporal Samuel Kunfer also was promoted to the rank of Sergeant that same day.

Spectators mass for the Grand Review of the Armies, 23-24 May 1865, at the side of the crepe-draped U.S. Capitol, flag at half mast following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (Matthew Brady, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Assigned in February to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah, the men of the 47th moved, via Winchester and Kernstown, back to Washington, D.C. On 19 April 1864, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were once again responsible for helping to defend the nation’s capital – this time following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Encamped near Fort Stevens, they received new uniforms and were resupplied.

Letters home and later newspaper interviews with survivors of the 47th Pennsylvania indicate that at least one 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer was given the high honor of guarding President Lincoln’s funeral train while others may have guarded the Lincoln assassination conspirators during the early days of their imprisonment and trial.

As part of Dwight’s Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Department of Washington’s 22nd Corps, the 47th Pennsylvania also participated in the Union’s Grand Review on 23-24 May.

Ruins of Charleston, South Carolina as seen from the Circular Church, 1865 (U.S. National Archives, public domain).

On their final southern tour, the men of Company K and their fellow 47th Pennsylvanians served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June. Assigned again to Dwight’s Division, they were now part of the 3rd Brigade, U.S. Department of the South. Taking over for the 165th New York Volunteers in July, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers took up their new quarters in Charleston, South Carolina at the former mansion of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. Duties during this phase of service were frequently Provost (military police) or Reconstruction-related (repairing railroads and other key regional infrastructure items which had been destroyed or damaged during the long war).

Finally, after thousands of miles traveled by ship, train and exhausting foot marches, Sergeant Phaon Guth, Corporals Martin Guth and William Knerr, and Privates Benjamin Amey, Tilghman Breisch, Harrison Handwerk, Edward Houser, John Keiser, Henry Savitz, and William Schlicher all mustered out upon expiration of their respective service terms on 1 October 1865.

Return to Civilian Life

Following his honorable discharge from the military, Phaon A. Guth returned home to the Lehigh Valley, where he resumed his job and life as a family man. In 1867, he and his wife, Carolina, welcomed son Samuel P. Guth (1867-1951) to the world. Daughter Viola then arrived on 27 September 1872.

In 1880, Phaon Guth and his family were still living in South Whitehall Township with children Dora, Mary, Samuel and Viola all still at home. Supporting his family via a “Repair Bop. R.R.” job, he was also helped out by son, Samuel, who was employed at an area ore mine.

Before the decade was out, however, Samuel had secured a position as a teacher in the local schools, and was beginning his own family. On 15 December 1888, he wed Rosa Haas (1862-1940) in Fogelsville, Lehigh County. A native of Macungie Township, she was a daughter of William Haas.

Then, before one century could roll into another, another of the Guth’s children also left the nest. On 2 September 1893, Viola Guth wed Charles J. Laudenslager in Maxatawny Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. A 26-year-old native of Fogelsville who was employed as a painter, he was a son of Willoughby Laudenslager.

The Guth’s son, Rodger, was also doing well during these years. Like his father before him, he was also, per 1897 editions of The Allentown Leader, a resident of South Whitehall Township who was employed with a railroad company.

Ordnance Device, U.S. Patent No. 830,222 (Israel Good, Phaon and Roger Guth, Benjamin F. Sell, 1906, public domain).

In 1905, both father and son were named as the beneficiaries of an ordnance device invented and patented by Allentonian Israel F. Good. Phaon and Rodger Guth were each awarded one-sixth of U.S. Patent No. 830,222, as was Phaon’s son-in-law, Benjamin F. Sell. According to the patent specification documents filed by Good, “The object of the invention is practically to eliminate recoil on the discharge of the gun and to conserve ammunition, so that with the minimum of powder the maximum of efficiency as to speed and penetration of the projectile shall be secured.”

Illness, Death and Interment

Like many of his former comrades from the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Phaon A. Guth suffered from health issues related to his military service, including piles and a hernia condition which worsened over time. Following his 1906 retirement from his career as a section boss for the Catasauqua and Fogelsville Railroad, a line which moved iron ore from mines between Berks and Lehigh Counties, federal records documented that he received steady increases in his U.S. Civil War Pension (from $15 to $30 per month).

Still residing in South Whitehall Township with his wife, Carolina, and daughter, Dora, as of 1910, he was described as a farmer on the federal census that year. Records from 1912 narrowed down the location of his residency to the community of Walberts.

That same year, he suffered a strangulated inguinal hernia. Under a doctor’s care beginning 22 October 1912, he underwent an operation on 23 October, but slipped into shock – a condition which lasted 6 hours according to a physician’s statement on his death certificate. Sadly, he then succumbed to surgical complications, passing away at 1 a.m. in South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 24 October 1912. His son, Samuel P. Guth of Stettlersville, was the family member who signed the death certificate.

The Allentown Leader reported on his passing in its 24 October edition as follows:

PHAON GUTH DEAD. THIRD DEMISE IN THE FAMILY THIS YEAR. Phaon Guth, a Civil War Veteran residing at Walberts Station, died unexpectedly last night at 12:30 o’clock following an operation for rupture, aged 76 years and 6 months. He was sick only 2 days. He was the third in the family to die within the last year. Two daughters, Mrs. B. F. Sell [his daughter Mary] of East Texas, who died last December, and Miss Victoria Guth. He was a member of Fuller Post, No. 378, G.A.R., and he served throughout the war, and belonged to the 47th Regiment. He is survived by his wife Caroline, (nee Guth) two sons, Rodger of Litzenberg, and Samuel P. Guth of Guthsvllle, one daughter, Mrs. Charles Laudenslager of Guthsville, 11 grandchildren. Thomas Guth of Allentown is a brother. Short funeral services will be held at his late home on Sunday morning at 9.30 o’clock. Continued services at Jordan Reformed Church. Interment in adjoining cemetery. Rev. Frank Guth will officiate. Teams will meet 8 o’clock car at Heilman’s Crossing.

Allentown’s Morning Call also provided similar details. Following the funeral services at his home and church, he was then laid to rest at the Jordan United Church of Christ Cemetery in Allentown on 28 October 1912. The next day, The Allentown Democrat then provided the following details regarding the funeral:

ATTENDED COMRADE’S FUNERAL The funeral of Phaon Guth of Walberts Station, who died Wednesday evening, was held yesterday mornlng with short services at his late home, Rev. Frank Guth officiating. Regular services were held in Jordan Reformed Church and interment was made in the cemetery adjoining. The deceased was a veteran of the Forty-seventh Regiment and a member of Fullerton Post … G.A.R. Fifteen members of the Post attended the funeral and furnished the pall-bearers. The remains were given military burial.

His widow followed him in death just two months later (16 December 1912); she was also laid to rest at the Jordan UCC Cemetery in Allentown. The Allentown Leader reported on her passing as follows:

DIED AT GUTHSVILLE. Mrs. Caroline E. Guth a Victim of Pneumonia. Mrs. Caroline E. Guth, widow of Phaon Guth, died yesterday of pneumonia at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Charles Laudenslager, Guthsville, after a five days’ illness from pneumonia, in her 78th year. She was a member of the home department of the Jordan Reformed Sunday School. This was the fourth death in the family within a year. A daughter, Mrs. B. F. Sell, died Dec. 16, 1911, her sister, Queen Victoria Guth, on April 19 last and her husband, Phaon Guth, on October 24. Mrs. Guth is survived by two sons, Rodger of Litzenburg and Samuel Guth of Guthsville; one daughter, Mrs. Viola Laudenslager of Guthsville, and one brother, Lewis Guth of Crackersport. The funeral will be held on Saturday morning, with services and burial at the Jordan Reformed Church. Rev. Frank A. Guth will officiate.

The Allentown Democrat then provided the following additional details regarding her life, illness and death:

FOUR DEATHS IN ONE FAMILY WITHIN YEAR Following an illness of the past five days with pneumonia, Mrs. Caroline B., widow of Phaon Guth, of Guthsvllle, passed away at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Charles Laudenslager of Guthsville, on Monday aged 77 years, 9 months and 11 days. Her maiden name was Guth. She was a member of the Home Department of the Jordan Reformed Sunday School. Hers is the fourth death out of the family within a year. The first was Mrs. B. F. Sell, of East Texas, who died December 16, 1911; her sister, Queen Victoria Guth, died April 19, 1912; her husband, Phaon A. Guth, died October 24. She died yesterday morning. The funeral will be held on Saturday morning … at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Laudenslager. Short services at the Jordan Reformed Church by Rev. F. A. Guth. She leaves two sons: Rodger Guth, of Litzenberg, and Samuel, of Guthsville. and one daughter, Mrs. Viola Laudenslager, of Guthsville. and one brother, Lewis Guth of Crackersport.

What Happened to the Other Surviving Guth Family Members?

Among those to survive Phaon Guth were his children, Samuel and Viola. Viola, who had wed Charles J. Laudenslager, passed away in Allentown in 1923, and was laid to rest at the same cemetery where her parents were buried – Jordan UCC.

Meanwhile, son Samuel P. Guth, spent his life serving his community. Making a career of shaping young minds as a teacher in the local public schools, he and wife, Rosa (Haas) Guth, greeted the arrival of a daughter, Orpha (1897-1965), and continued to reside in South Whitehall Township. Widowed by Rosa in 1940, he joined her in death 11 years later, and was laid to rest beside her at the Jordan Lutheran Cemetery in Orefield, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

 

Sources:

1. Attended Comrade’s Funeral (news report of Phaon Guth’s funeral). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Democrat, 29 October 1912.

2. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.

3. Died in Guthsville (obituary of Carolina Guth). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Leader, 17 December 1912.

4. Four Deaths in One Family within Year (obituary of Carolina Guth). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Democrat, 18 December 1912.

5. Guth, Phaon A., in Death Certificates. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Vital Statistics, 24 October 1912.

6. Guth, Phaon (funeral notice). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Morning Call, 28 October 1912.

7. Guth, Phaon, in Pension Payment Cards. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Veterans’ Administration, 1907-1912.

8. Guth, Phaon, in Walberts (retirement notice). Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Leader, 17 November 1905.

9. Guth, Samuel P., Rosa Haas, Phaon Guth, and William Haas, in Marriage License Docket. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Lehigh County Orphans’ Court, 15 December 1888.

10. Guth, Viola, Charles J. Laudenslager, Phaon Guth, and Willoughby Laudenslager, in Marriage License Docket. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Lehigh County Orphans’ Court, 2 September 1893.

11. Phaon Guth Dead: Third Demise in Family This Year. Allentown, Pennsylvania: The Allentown Leader, 24 October 1912.

12. U.S. Census and U.S. Veterans’ Schedule (1890). Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: 1840, 1860, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.

 

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