February 9, 2012

The Death and Funeral of Capt. John Dysart

Location: Woodward Hill Cemetery, Lancaster, PA 17603, USA
Tombstone of Capt. John H. Dysart, Woodward Hill Cemetery (vws, ~2006)
Anyone who makes the very worthwhile visit to Woodward Hill Cemetery--one of two big cemeteries in Lancaster City--will find it hard to miss the rather stunning grave stone of Capt. John H. Dysart, which ranks among my favorites in a cemetery full of beautiful stones.  Dysart was the first officer of the 79th Pennsylvania to die during the war, succumbing to illness in a Louisville hospital on February 8, 1862.  Rumors of a serious illness of typhoid fever had been printed in Lancaster's newspapers in the weeks preceding, and news of his reached Lancaster on February 10.  The Daily Evening Express eulogized, "To the honor of his memory it should be written, that, as a man, he was as kind-hearted, humane, and generous, as he was patriotic, loyal, and efficient as an officer."  More privately, Lewis H. Jones connected Capt. Dysart's illness to his exertions trying to help Private Joseph Maxwell--Jones' brother-in-law in Dysart's company--in Maxwell's last days.

Advertisement for Thomas J. Dysart
(LEH, 3/7/1860)
Dysart had been thoroughly involved with the Lancaster Fencibles before the war, and would have gone of with the company that became Company B, 1st Pennsylvania Reserves (the "Union Guards"), had it not been for business responsibilities.  I haven't fully mapped out the relationships, but I think John Dysart's uncle and cousins ran a major jewelry establishment (which then included watchmaking) in Lancaster with a store on Centre Square.  His brother, Thomas J. Dysart, was an artist who would enhance and tint photographs.  John Dysart's profession is unclear, although there was a John Dysart listed (age 25) in the 1860 census for Salisbury Township, which was where much of Company C was recruited.  His mother applied for a pension after Dysart's death, alleging that Dysart's father had left her many years before and that her son was her only means of support (accessible at Fold3.com).  Obviously, more research is needed...

Dysart's remains reached Lancaster on February 11, and a funeral was held on February 13.  The Daily Evening Express gave the following account on the next day: (alternate link)

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