Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Family Roadtrips to Gettysburg

Fred Weakland travellin' in style!

As an addendum to my previous post, I would like to show you some vintage photos from Gettysburg road trips within my family. Due to the recent passing of my Uncle Fred, I thought it would be most appropriate to show some of his photos as well. All of these photos were scanned from his many family photo albums, which his children were kind enough to allow us to borrow to make copies. (There are hundreds of photos ranging from the 1900s to 1980s, including Fred's WWII photos.)

The photo above shows Fred at the rear of his car in his 1931 trip to Gettysburg. The people seated in the rumbler seat are, from left to right: Emma Weakland (Fred's mom), Unknown woman, and a girl named Marian McCarty. I do not know who Marian may be, but I can only assume that the woman seated beside her is her mother. I've asked some rangers as to the whereabouts of this photo and we came to the conclusion that it is probably on East Cemetery Hill. Note the monument between the car windows. It has the cresent moon on it, the symbol of the Union 11th Corps. The high ground in the background may be Wolf Hill.

My dad and I believe these guys to be members of the Neff Family (the family of Fred's wife, Margaret (Neff) Weakland). This photo is circa 1915 and was taken in the Soldiers National Cemetery. These gentleman are seated on the grave of Union Gen. Charles Collis, commander of Collis' Zouaves. Collis was sick and absent during Gettysburg, but his men fought there and he had a great affection for the place. He had a home known as "The Red Patch (or Diamond) House," which still stands on West Confederate Avenue. The diamond was a symbol of the Union's Third Corps and is also on the general's tombstone. I believe the plaque at right to be one of the "Bivouac of the Dead" poem markers which encircle the cemetery path. Obviously, they are today in different spots.

A view from the same 1910s trip by the Neff Family. This shows the Soldiers National Monument. The shrubs and iron fence surrounding it are no longer present.

Some Neff's at the Tammany Regiment Monument near the High Water Mark of the Confederacy. Notice the iron pipe fence in the background. These types of fences were prevalent on numerous parts of the field early on.

Another Neff at the High Water Mark Memorial. The famous "Copse of Trees" are in the fenced in background. The trees are much smaller and not overgrown with brush as today. It is quite possible that some of these trees may be witness trees to the battle. The ones in this spot today are not.

Let's skip back to the 1931 trip with Fred Weakland. They are seen here in front of the Pennsylvania Memorial. I wonder if they knew that they have family members inscribed on the monument.

A view of Fred and Marian at the National Cemetery, 1931. I would estimate that this photo was taken on Memorial Day, for that is usually the only time when flags are placed on the tombstones. (Plus, look how nice they are dressed up!)

Another view of Marian McCarty. Notice how the tombstones are raised high above the ground. They are no longer like this. At some point, somebody decided to lower the stones so they were even with the ground. This would make it easier to cut the grass (good grief...) It is the park's longterm plan to return the headstones to this appearance.

Here is an image in town with Emma and a woman named Margaret McHugh (again, I have no idea who this person is). I also have no clue as to what building this might be. Any of you Gettysburg experts out there are more than welcome to leave a comment if you know the answer.

Let's fast forward again. I estimate this photo to be from about 1947. From left to right are Fred Weakland, Emma Weakland, Angelia De Severro, and Mary Alice Kettl (the latter two were family friends). Take notice how the iron fence is gone. Some park rangers I spoke with were amazed at the good, clean condition of the monument in this photo. Obviously, monuments are worn by the weather and the bronze figures stain over the decades.

Check out those dapper white shoes!

As you can see, the model of car has changed greatly from the previous trip. Fred was in the Army from 1942 to 1946, so that rules out those dates. This may have been one of his first roadtrips following WWII. The memorial in the back may be to Union sharpshooters. Pictured here is Angelia De Severro, Fred Weakland, and Mary Alice Kettl.

And our family has been having great vacations to Gettysburg ever since!

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