Home | Membership | Research Services | Upcoming Events | Directions | Contact Us | Links

 

Herman's Wooing:
A story from 1830s Gettysburg

Elwood Christ

Ah, yes, with the approach of February 14, a man's fancy turns to the pursuit of the "fairer sex." So for St. Valentine's Day, take heart of a story from 1830s Gettysburg.

Our dashing young blade was Herman. In 1881, he wrote that he "became an inhabitant of this sublunary sphere" on March 26, 1817, in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. In his youth, he "gained the reputation of being smart but decidedly mischievous, having an irresistible propensity to climb out windows and run over neighbor's roof-tops." His parents did not spare the rod in disciplining Herman, which he said, "contributed to making me temporarily, if not permanently smart." Indeed, Herman was smart; he gained admission to West Point at the age of 14 years, graduated in 1835, and worked a year for a railroad line near Philadelphia before being "appointed Principal Assistant in the service of the State of Pennsylvania, with headquarters at Gettysburg" at the age of 19.

Herman recalled his early days in Gettysburg: "I attended to my duties closely, and had but little fondness for society, parties I detested and avoided; I formed no acquaintances among the ladies, and resisted all efforts by them to draw me into company." Herman recalled one summer evening "at the principle hotel," where "I was ushered into a parlor and presented to about twenty young ladies. It was too late to run… I was trotted up and down the street all evening, and compelled to promise to join a picnic…." At that picnic, Herman met a daughter of the Rev. Benjamin Keller, Anna Cecilia. Their "acquaintance" continued for several months. One day Herman escorted a wedding party to York accompanied by Cecilia, who was the guest of the Rev. Dr. John George Schmucker. That evening, when Cecilia did not attend a "prayer-meeting," Herman searched high and low for her to no avail. He returned to Dr. Schmucker's home to find her safe. Herman "inquired coldly" at what hour the next day they would return to Gettysburg.

On the journey home, it rained, and the showers drenched them; for Herman's rig, "an open buggy," and the umbrella he carried provided little cover. He glanced over at Cecilia, described by Herman as being "much admired … complexion extremely fair with cheeks full and rosy," and with a "dove-like" disposition. She was crying. "Water is a solvent, and…it dissolved anger and opened lips." She explained what had happened. "These explanations extinguished the last traces of resentment; tongues were loosened and confidence restored. We became oblivious to the storm…." Within a few miles, in pouring rain, Herman proposed. Cecilia answered, "Wait until we reach that big stump in the road on the top of the hill, and then I will tell you…." After waiting a year, Cecilia and Herman were married on August 30, 1838; they were blessed with 11 children and 53 years of marriage before she died in 1891.

Herman's last name was Haupt, and after establishing his Oak Ridge Select Academy and teaching mathematics at Gettysburg College, he went on to operate the Union military railroads during the Civil War and wrote numerous books on engineering and bridges. He died of a heart attack in 1905.

Do you know of an individual who helped shape the Adams County?
If so, send their story to us at: achs@emmitsburg.net