All in the family – Rebels raid the Meisenhelters

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The Meisenhelter / Meisenhelder family was one of the more prominent families in Dover and Conewago townships during the 19th century. The private family cemetery is dotted with the names of men and women who played a key role in the agricultural economy of the region during the Civil War years. Descendants still live in the area, and many of the old farmsteads still exist, including two on Bull Road that I will discuss briefly in today’s Cannonball blog entry.
These folks were prime targets of Confederate raiding parties, as Bull Road was (and is) a quick route for people to get from northern York County to York without using Carlisle Road (State Route 74). Four members of the large family are known to have lost horses to the Southern foragers.


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Let’s take a look at the losses of the four Meisenhelters…
Daniel Meisenhelter (1796-1870) – On the morning of Tuesday, July 1, 1863, a patrol from J.E.B. Stuart’s Confederate cavalry division paid a visit to Dan Meisenhelter’s place and emerged with a 6-year-old dark bay horse valued at $200 (in 1863 money). In the 1860 census, he is listed as a 63-year-old farmer worth $12,000. His family is listed as his wife Elizabeth 53; and children Anna 31 (deaf & dumb, can’t rd. or write English); Jacob B. 21; Daniel 19; Israel B. 17; Lovina 13; William Nathan 10; and Orphila 8. That’s quite a lot of kids for an older gentleman!
David Meisenhelter (1820-1886) – He was the first family member to suffer a loss when on Sunday, June 28, members of the 17th Virginia Cavalry stopped by and took his bay horse, leaving a played out nag in exchange. He later sold the nearly worthless Rebel horse for $25. York Daily Record editor, author, and fellow blogger Jim McClure, in his excellent book, East of Gettysburg, mentions that some of French’s men, on their way to destroy the Conewago Creek railroad bridges, dismounted at the Meisenhelter farm and ate a meal. One trooper attempted to steal a horse. Mounting and riding away, he tried to jump a wooden fence, but the horse balked. The rider fled on foot, and the horse found its own way back to the stable. It is not known if this is the same horse for which David and Anna May filed their $140 state border claim (perhaps they lost it later to other Rebels), or if this is a second horse that they managed to save.
Henry Meisenhelter (1824-1897) – This Dover Township carpenter and farmer suffered the most in monetary losses, with a claim of $265. He was visited on Monday, June 29, by French’s troopers, who rode off with his 6-year-old dark bay mare and an 12-year-old light bay. The Johnnies also took a leather riding saddle. The 1860 census lists Henry Meisenhelter, 34, carpenter, $70 in personal property; wife Rachel 29; children Crispinus 4 and Tempest 2. Also living with them was his mother-in-law, Catharine Kochenour, 69.
Samuel H. Meisenhelter (1795-1872) – The War of 1812 veteran was also hit on June 29, very likely by the same patrol that hit Henry’s nearby farm. Sam lost a 7-year-old roan he valued at $175. He reported that Rebels entered his stable and emerged leading away his horse.
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Dover historian Ron Botterbusch tells the story that at one of the Meisenhelter farms on Bull Road, Rebels missed several other fine draft horses which were concealed under a large apple tree with branches that hung to the ground, providing good cover. The animals were gagged, and the farmer used a fly brush to keep them from stomping their feet and attracting attention.
Whether this was Henry or Samuel remains unknown.
I drive by the Meisenhelter farms on Bull Road most mornings, and the old houses are still in very good condition. I often wonder of the current owners know anything about the Civil War events that took place there in the early summer of 1863?

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7 Responses to All in the family – Rebels raid the Meisenhelters

  1. David Meisenhelter says:

    Any additional information or photos about the Meisenhelter family would be most appreciated.
    Also, can you provide a map location of the photos?
    Thank you,
    David Meisenhelter

  2. Scott Mingus says:

    Hello David!
    I assume you are a descendant???
    The first house is located on Bull Road in Dover Township about three miles north of U.S. Route 30 just past where Bull Road crosses the Little Conewago Creek.
    The second (white) house is a little further north on Bull Road, at the intersection with Hilton Avenue.
    I believe the York County Heritage Trust’s library may have more information on the family.

  3. John Mathews says:

    Did any of the Meisenhelter men have a daughter named Catherine?

  4. Scott Mingus says:

    (Columbia City Post – January 8, 1909)
    The death of Mrs. Catherine Wynkoop, an aged pioneer of this county, occurred Friday at the home of her youngest son, Charles Wynkoop, Sr., just east of the city, near the Wynkoop & Erdmann brick yard.
    Catherine Meisenhelter was born in York County, Pennsylvania, December 11, 1826, and was aged 82 years and 27 days at the time of her death. When 13 years of age she came to Ohio to reside with her sister, and grew to womanhood there, marrying Andrew Wynkoop at Springfield, O.
    They came to this county in September, 1852, and resided in this city until their deaths. Five children were born to them, one dying in infancy. The surviving children are Charles Wynkoop, Sr., just east of the city; Gustavus A. Wynkoop, of this city; Robert G. Wynkoop, in the west, and Mrs. Mollie E. Wagner, of Redlands, Cal. One sister, Mrs. Lavina Shellabarger, of Beatrice, Neb., also survives as well as a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her husband preceded her to the grave on March 14, 1887.

  5. Scott Mingus says:

    Here is yet another Catherine Meisenhelter – this one may be who you are looking for!
    Henry BOYER (Mary Magdalene KANN1) was born 2 AUG 1814 in , York, Pennsylvania, and died 7 APR 1893. He married Catherine J MEISENHELTER, daughter of Henry MEISENHELDER and Anna Maria DARRON. She was born 30 JUN 1818 in Dover Township, York, Pennsylvania, and died 19 JUL 1900 in Dover Township, York, Pennsylvania.
    Child of Henry BOYER and Catherine J MEISENHELTER is:
    + 3 i. Aaron M BOYER was born 7 NOV 1858 in Dover Township, York, Pennsylvania, and died 14 APR 1940 in Dover Township, York, Pennsylvania.

  6. Cindy Ingram says:

    Thank you for the pictures and info. Do you have any info on Anna Marie Meisenhelder (widow of John) during that time? Again, Thank you.

  7. Scott Mingus says:

    I don’t have any info on Anna Marie, but you may want to try the library of the York County Heritage Trust or contact the Dover Area Historical Society.

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