Research had supplied additional information along with a possible site to search. The quest was for a man of the past named, Abraham Bechtel. The man searching was Tim Bowser. Another friend, Bob “Slim” Bowser, Tim and I decided to search on this beautiful February afternoon. Tim and Slim are living historians. They represent the Civil War soldiers of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (PVI) Many of these brave men came from such counties of western Pennsylvania as Armstrong, Indiana, Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Jefferson. Slim had a personal tie with his great-great-great uncle Daniel Swigart. That fact lead to his interest in the 62nd PVI. His quest recently discovered an actual photograph of his ancestor. I am an honorary member of this group. These two men and others, including wives in many cases do not do reenacting. These people do grave rededications, volunteering to do work in Gettysburg, do displays and educational presentations to inform the public of those men of the 62nd PVI.
However, this day was for Tim’s great-great-great grandfather, Abraham Bechtel. Others. within the 62nd unit had discovered information of the site of Stewardson Furnace area of a possible burial site. The cemetery is located on a flat terrain side of a hill about a mile and a half east of the town of Mahoning in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. In times past a working furnace for ore was located in the area. Mr. Bechtel served in Company K during the Civil War.
The three of us walked among the tombstones searching for the name of our quest. A couple of stones were discovered with the last name of Bechtel, but the name of Abraham was absent. I expressed many times the sadness I felt upon walking the cemetery. Most of the tombstones were unreadable without study and/or paper tracings. That meant getting down to work. Still many stones were totally unreadable. Scattered about the cemetery were numerous stones down among the vegetation. We gathered some up to set back up albeit only temporarily for without major work the stones would fall over in time.
A number of stones were merely that. It seems apparent some of the stone markers were placed at graves without inscriptions. Maybe these were very poor people who couldn’t afford the cost of a stone with details. Maybe they hoped to supply a tombstone with inscriptions in their future and just never could.
We were humbled as we walked the site. Of course thoughts of the people under us became apparent. One can’t help wondering details. Many people were under thirty years of age including infants. What caused their demise? Typhoid? Scarlet fever? Accidents? Fire? I guess we will never know just who these individuals were. The research did tell us Abraham had fallen at a stone quarry near Manorville. He died from the fall. The date of his accident and death was May 3, 1876.
Another obvious discovery were the many areas of sunken graves. The old pine board caskets had
succumbed to the elements over many years underground and had collapsed. Depressions of this fact were common.
Unfortunately Abraham’s grave was not located on site. He, very well, could have been laid to rest here. One depressed area with only a field stone marker yielded a GAR marker with a flag. Could Abraham have been buried here? (GAR stands for Grand Army of the republic.)
Later, we stopped at the Pine Creek Baptist Cemetery to check on Slim’s ancestor Daniel Swigart’s grave site. Slim was disappointed as to the trees and briars in this section of the cemetery. Slim reset the flag in honor.