The Civil War and Fishtown
The neighborhood now called
Fishtown, originally the District of Kensington, officially became part of the City of Philadelphia in 1854. When the Civil
War broke out in 1861, many men from the city were quick to enlist. It is estimated that more than 50 infantry and cavalry
units were formed in Philadelphia.
Based on research by Deb Lonergan, an amateur Civil War historian from Fishtown, one
family from this area sacrificed a great deal in defense of the Union. John and Mary Ann Willingmyre had
a large family, originally living on Randolph Street, near 6th and Girard Avenue. The father, John, was born in Virginia around
1791 and fought with the First Pennsylvania Volunteers during the War of 1812. Five of his sons would see action in many of
the major battles during the Civil War.
The family moved around some and lived in Northern Liberties, Fishtown and Kensington
prior to the Civil War. While in Fishtown, members of the Willingmyre family lived on the 1800 block of Sepviva Street,
1100 block of Palmer Street, 1300 block of Vienna (Berks) and 1200 block of Shackamaxon Street.
Samuel, Daniel, George, Charles, and Theodore
Daniel, private in the
26th Pennsylvania Infantry, was killed in action on July 2nd, 1863 at Gettysburg. This was deadliest day of the Battle
of Gettysburg and many believe this was the turning point for the North in the Civil War. Prior to the war, Daniel was
a Police Officer in the 11th District in Kensington and lived on the 1300 block of Vienna Street (now Berks). Daniel,
originally buried in Odd Fellows cemetery in Philadelphia, is now buried with his parents and brother Theodore in
a common grave at Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, PA.
Samuel Willingmyre, a private in the 29th Pennsylvania Infantry died on June 12th, 1864 after
being wounded in a battle near Dallas, Georgia. This was during General William T. Sherman's march through the South. Samuel
is buried in the Marietta Cemetery in Georgia.
1st Sgt.Charles Willinmgmyre in the 17th and 118th Pennsylvania Infantry was captured and
taken prisoner during a battle in West Virginia. Charles lived on the 1100 block of Palmer Street and died on November
12th, 1908. He is buried in The Knights of Pythius Greenwood Cemetery in Philadelphia.
1st Sgt. George Willingmyre was wounded in Gettysburg
and Cold Harbor, Virginia. George died on May 14th, 1913 and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Burlington
Youngest brother, Private Theodore Willingmyre was wounded at the Battle of Antietam. Theodore died in a tragic
accident in 1869, and was buried with his parents in Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Odd Fellows cemetery was closed in 1950 and the
Willingmyre Family was reburied in a common grave in section 22 at Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, Montgomery County.
A marker was set at Lawnview in memory of the Willingmyre Family in 1990 after the descendants of John and Mary Ann Willingmyre
traced their family lineage. The descendants had no idea that the remains of the ancestors had been moved to an
unmarked grave, and they wanted to make sure that they were remembered in some way. The marker sits in the "Susquehanna"
area of the cemetery, section 22, gravesite 61.
On September 29th, 2013 at 11am. The Willingmyre Brothers will be honored once again.
A granite marker will be dedicated at Palmer Cemetery, acknowledging the sacrifices that were made by
these brave men. Another monument was placed in the cemetery in 2011 for George Leisingring, another neighborhood
man who died at Baltimore at the beginning of the Civil War. The new marker will be placed near the flag pole in front
of the Bier House at Palmer and Memphis Streets.
The monument for the Willingmyre Brothers was made possible by a generous donation from The
Penn Treaty Special Services District and the hard work of John and Debbie Lonergan. The dedication will be complete
with Civil War re-enactor's, Civil War Color Guard and Bugler.
There is a great deal of history right here in Fishtown. The Willingmyre Family is a
small part of the history of Old Kensington and Fishtown. Please help us celebrate and preserve our history.