Union and West End Cemetery

The Union and West End Cemetery is located in center city Allentown. The main entrance is on 10th Street at 10th and Chew Streets. The cemetery is mantained by a dedicated group of volunteers. Ten board members (also volunteers) serve the cemetery association and manage the finances, make application for grants, solicit donations and participate in the maintenance of the cemetery.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Pvt. Allen J. Wetherhold

Allen J. Wetherhold was born in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania in 1842. His father was George Wetherhold and his mother was Elizabeth. George was born on February 17, 1801 and died October 1, 1869. Elizabeth was born December 28, 1803 and died November 1, 1869. Another son, Henry H. Wetherhold was born October 20, 1836 and died on April 2, 1838. There is at least one other individual buried in the family plot.

According to the 1860 census, George Wetherhold was 59 years of age and ran a boarding house in the 3rd Ward of the Borough of Allentown. In the household was his wife, Elizabeth, then 57; Allen, age 18; Albert, age 16; and Eliza, age 12. Additionally, there was an older daughter named Emma who married William Beck, a machinist, and they were living in the household at the time. There were six boarders in the boarding house in 1860; a factory spinner,age 35; a pedler, age 30; a coach maker, age 28; a cooper, age 27; and a currier, age 35.

When Allen was about 19 years of age, the Civil War began and President Lincoln put out a call for 75,000 troops to defend Washington, D.C. Allen may have already been a member of the Allen Infantry under Captain Yeager, but if not, he joined the group before it left Allentown in route to Harrisburg in April, 1861. The men of the Allen Infantry departed Allentown on April 17, 1861 and arrived in Harrisburg by night fall. They were enrolled at Harrisburg on April 18, 1861 and rushed by rail to defend the Capital. These militia members had enlisted for a period of ninety days. Those in command of raising an army were sure that the war would last no longer than a ninety day period.

The men of the Allen Infantry militia were assigned to Company G. of the Twenty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. This group along with four companies from other Pennsylvania counties would be known as "First Defenders", for it was these five original companies from Pennsylvania that were the first to arrive in Washington for the pupose of defending Washingtonand the Capital against attack from Confederate forces positioned just across the Potomac River, in full view of the Capital.

There were ten companies in the 25th PVI regiment and while five companies performed garrison duty at Washington, Company G, D, F, I and K of the 25th regiment were marched to Rockville on the 29th and 30th of June, where they would join Colonel Charles P. Stone, commander of the 7th Brigade, Sanford's 3rd Division, of Patterson's army. They arrived at Sandy Hook, across from Harper's Ferry on July 1, 1861. At this time, Harper's Ferry was occupied by Confederate forces, and considerable skirmishing occurred. To obtain possession of the place, it was arranged to storm it on the morning of the 6th, but just before the movement commenced, orders were received to march rapidly to Williamsport, and thence across the Potomac to Martinsburg. Arriving on the 8th, after a fatiguing march through clouds of dust, under a broiling sun, it went into camp in a little valley outside of town, which in consequence with the feelings of the men, was called Camp Misery.

On July 15th The regiment advanced to Bunker Hill. They then camped at Harper's Ferry from July 17-23, which was now void of any enemy. The men of Company G of the Twenty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were mustered out on 26 July 1861.

Allen J. Wetherhold; it is believed, died at his home in Allentown in 1862. The cause and circumstances of this death are not known.

Allen, his father, his mother, an infant brother, and possibly another infant are buried in the family plot in the Union and West End Cemetery. The tombstone of George and Elizabeth have both been broken and were previously repaired. However, George's stone has separated again as the epoxy failed to hold. The head stone for Allen Wetherhold is unreadable and, at some point, broke off near the base. The top portion of his stone is broke off just above the base and was leaning against the stone of his mother. The portion of the head stone that remains is just barely visible at ground level. There is some damage to that portion of the remaining stone where lawn cutting equipment has knicked it from time to time. I excavated the earth around the stone to determine if it could be repaired and there is hope that something can be done to place the stone back on its base.

The back side of the Wetherhold Head Stones.
George's stone is broken.
Allen's stone is laying against his mothers.

Frontal view of the Wetherhold head stones.
Allen's grave is marked with the flag.

This is the upper portion of Allen's head stone
which was broken off at the base.
It is leaning against the back of his mother's stone.

I excavated the base of Allen's stone to determine
the condition of the base, which is solid, and
then placed his head stone across the base, temporarily.

This plaque was placed on Allen's grave to
commemorate his service during the Civil War.

Allen's grave, commenmorating his involvement in the Civil War as a "First Defender" has a bronze marker, denoting and celebrating his service to his country. Unfortunately, it has been placed to the rear of his grave stone and it rest at the foot of the grave of a Sarah Martin, who died in 1911. The head stones of all members of the Wetherhold family face west, and the bronze plaque should be on the west side of the Allen's headstone, but has been misplaced on the east or back side. Efforts will need to be taken to correct this error.

As noted earlier, Allen's father, George Wetherhold died in 1869. Elizabeth Wetherhold, age 76 in 1880, was living in the household of William Beck and his wife, Emma Wetherhold Beck and their family. Their home was located on Penn Street in the 5th Ward. Elizabeth would die on the 1st day of November, 1881, and would be laid to rest in the Union and West End Cemetery along side her husband, her son, Allen, and the graves of several infants.

Although Allen Wetherhold was only twenty years of age when he died in 1862, there is no reason to believe that he served with any other Civil War units other than the 25th PVI. No records exist that would lead one to believe that he served in the Civil War beyond his ninety days service with the 25th Pennsylvania Volunteers. It is therefore presumed that he died at home in Allentown from a cause unrelated to his service in the Civil War.

Allen J. Wetherhold
"First Defender"

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