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The Cowden Drum and the Battle of Gettysburg

The Cowden Drum

From the time the first William Cowden immigrated from Ireland in the 1840’s, the Cowden family has played a prominent role in the history of Philadelphia generally, and in the Northeast section of the city in particular.

The elder William Cowden joined the Union army at the outbreak of the Civil War, and his son, also named William, while only in his early teens, enlisted as a drummer boy, as was customary at the time.

During one of the Virginia campaigns in 1862, the marching band of the 114th Regiment, to which the younger William Cowden belonged, after spending the night sleeping in a ditch unseen by the rest of their compatriots, missed the call to evacuate their newly won turf. The band members awoke to the bayonets of their Confederate captors, and were taken to the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond—their instruments confiscated. The 114th Regiment wore the exotic Zoave uniform, as seen in the photograph from 1864.

Marching band of the 114th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers

The imprisoned musicians of war were eventually repatriated in a prisoner of war exchange. The people of Frankford magnanimously took up a collection to replace the instruments appropriated by the band’s Confederate captors. This drum is believed to be one of those replaced instruments, and its later use by the younger William Cowden at the Battle of Gettysburg is documented in our acquisition records at the Historical Society of Frankford (HSF).

The drum was donated to the HSF by the Cowden family in 1963—exactly one hundred years after the Battle of Gettysburg—along with the musket used by the elder William Cowden at the landmark Battle.

The younger William Cowden later went on to join the newly reorganized Philadelphia fire department, and right up to the present, several of his descendants have distinguished themselves as local firefighters. He died in 1913—fifty years after the Battle of Gettysburg— while still a resident of Frankford.

The Benjamin Rush Chapter of Questers visited The Historical Society of Frankford and became aware of this drum and it’s history. The idea of conserving the instrument was discussed and raising of funds began.

The Questers is an organization devoted to studying, preserving, and sharing knowledge of history and antiquities. An estimate of work needed to bring the drum back to it’s former condition was obtained by HSF from Lara Kaplan, object conservator. A matching grant from the Pennsylvania Questers was applied for and received.

On July 1st 2020 the check from Pa. Questers was handed to HSF President Jerry Kolankiewicz from Benjamin Rush Quester Mildred Noonan.

The drum was handed over to Lara to begin the restoration.


It is unknown when the repair will be completed at this time. Many months of detailed restoration work are required. When it is returned to the HSF, It will be on permanent display. The exhibit is being planned and lecture in the future will be scheduled.

 

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Worrell-Winter House

Reported by Patrick Hodynski

U.S. 50 Star & Colonial 13 Colony “Betsy Ross” Flags raised at 1548 Adams Avenue.
The owner is looking to hold an open house for all interested in 5 to 6 weeks. Will update as soon as date and time are finalized. New/old flooring, bathroom & kitchen, and a chunk of the original joist.

Worrel-Winter House at 1548 Adams Avenue

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Worrel-Winter House Update

Patrick Hodynski reports that the Worrel-Winter House at 1548 Adams Avenue is being rehabbed by the owner.   Work is expected to be complete within a few months.

As Harry Kyriakodis said on Hidden City Philadelphia: “At 1548 Adams Avenue in Frankford there is a small, modest home with a big, important history. The two-story house is believed to have been built between 1712 and 1718 and is one of the oldest historical structures listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historical Places. ”

Reports Hodynski:  “He is upgrading Electric and needed to replace the First floor’s floor due to termites but is restoring as much as possible. Purchased 200-year-old tongue & groove planks from an old barn to redo floor.  It will now be a 2.5 Bedroom House with kitchen & Bath on 1st floor.”

See pictures below:

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Thank You For Your Support!

Pat Smiley and I thank you for your support of our Memorial Day fundraiser and efforts to promote his and Richard Johnson’s book, “Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition”! If you’ve been busy or just didn’t quite get to ordering their book, you can still do so and we will still honor our pledge of 20% of book sales to be split between St. Mark’s Church and the Catholic Daughters’ Matthew 25 Food Cupboard. You will still get the ebook edition, too, for free. This effort will officially end on Friday, June 5. Here’s the link for you to use – https://frankfordgazette.com/books-for-sale/

We have mailed the books to those who ordered and have mailed the donations to St. Mark’s Church and Court St. Francis de Sales #2617 CDA. Every little bit helps!!!

For all of you who have purchased the book since it was available last fall, please check your email as Bob Smiley has emailed you a link to the ebook. Please check your email and let us know if you did not receive one and had purchased a book. We do our utmost to insure our records are accurate but… We hope you enjoy this ebook version, too. If you would like to share your comments about the book and allow us to use them as testimonials, please email gil@frankfordgazette.com

We would appreciate hearing what you think of the book!! Thank you again for your purchase and we look forward to sharing more publications with you that pique your interest. Stay well!

 

 

 

 

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Our “Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition” Honor Roll!

This Memorial Day, May 25, 2020, we wanted to let the “Frankford Heroes” tell you their stories themselves. It’s true that Bob put their stories into the 2nd Edition of his and Richard Johnson’s book, but he is simply retelling the stories of the lives they lived and the sacrifices they have made so that they are always remembered!

At the end of this post, there is a a list of all those who are featured in this latest edition of “Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition”. And here are some of their stories. Remember, through Tuesday evening, May 26, if you purchase a copy of Bob and Richard’s book ($14.95) through our website, we will donate 20% of the list price to be shared between St. Mark’s Church in Frankford and the CDA Court St. Francis De Sales #2617 Matthew 25 Food Cupboard at St. Mark’s. Also, by buying this print edition, we will give you the ebook free. The ebook has additional information and links and has just been finished. Nothing is ever as easy as it may seem. (So, if you bought the book previously, we will be emailing you the pdf asap. Thank you for your patience.) We accept PayPal, Credit or Debit Cards or you can mail us a check. You’ll find all the details at this link:    https://frankfordgazette.com/books-for-sale/

“Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition” contains the stories of almost 190 Veterans from Frankford. Frankford was a small town before it incorporated with Philadelphia and patriotism and a sense of history continue to be a large part of our traditions. 147 of these stories are those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and for our freedom. The rest of the stories are those who served proudly and most, if not all, still call Frankford their home. To all our Veterans, past and present, thank you! We thank also, all the men and women of our Armed Forces currently serving so proudly and in unexpected ways. Many have been a real support to areas of the country struggling with coronavirus. We salute you and ask God to bless you abundantly!!

I chose a story from Bob’s book that I wanted to share with you. The first is about a young man named Stephen Blanchett. “Stephen Paul Blanchett was born on October 20, 1947 and lived on Foulkrod Street in Frankford.  He enlisted in the Army early in 1965 and served as a corpsman. He was awarded the Silver Star posthumously: ‘He distinguished himself by exceptional valor while serving as Medical Specialist for his unit when it came under heavy small arms fire in rice paddies northwest of Dong Tam, Vietnam, on March 7, 1967. As the unit was maneuvering slowly through several rice paddies, they came under enemy sniper fire. Immediately, one of the unit’s leaders was hit and severely wounded. Private Blanchett, 350 meters to the rear, was notified, and began racing through the paddies in order to reach the wounded man. When he had come to within 50 meters of the casualty, he was urged by fellow comrades to go no further, due to the increasing amount of hostile fire. He courageously disregarded the warning and with fire all about him, ran to the side of the wounded man. He then pulled the wounded man behind the safety of a dike separating two paddies and administered vitally needed first aid. This courageous act was one of many times he unhesitatingly risked his life in behalf of his fellow soldiers.’” Paul was 19 years old – 19!!! There have been so many just like him – good men of valor, courage and a strong sense of duty and caring for their fellow man!

“Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition” – Let’s take a look and see if you are familiar with any of the names! These are our honored Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for our freedoms during the following wars! There are two pages of names and there are two arrows at the bottom of the document to let you move between the pages. Remember our special offer ends Tuesday evening, May 26 at 11:59 PM!

FH Alphabetical LIsting