Civil War Profile

John Klinkhart
Montgomery County & Canajoharie's Last Surviving Civil War Veteran
Montgomery County, New York

When the last annual reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic was held at Gettysburg in 1938, 94-year-old John Klinkhart of Canajoharie, one of Montgomery County's last surviving veterans, answered the call to gather with his former comrades.

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John Klinkhart, Civil War veteran, accompanied by his won, William Klinkhart, and a grandson, William, the latter from New York City, is spending several days visiting his son, Adam Klinkhart, Hagerstown, Md. Mr. Klinkhart will attend the last reunion of the G.A.R. being held now at the Gettysburg battlefield. One of two surviving Civil War veterans in this county, Mr. Klinkhart was a member of the 153rd Company E., New York Volunteers. 1


According to his long obituary, Mr. Klinkhart passed away at his home on the "east Canajoharie-Sharon Springs Highway" in the town of Canajoharie about 11:30 p.m. July 7, 1943, after an illness of just a few days. He'd often said that he wished to reach the age of 100, which he would have turned on August 31, 1943. He was born in the town of Canajoharie to Amos and Frederica Leahlin Klinkhart and lived almost his whole life in the town.

John Klinkhart served in Co. E of the 153rd NYS Volunteer Infantry, a three-year-regiment that was recruited at Fonda in the summer of 1862. [An account of his 99th birthday says he enlisted at Fonda the day before his 19th birthday.] He left with his regiment on October 18, 1862. His company saw action at Pleasant Hill, Sabine Cross Roads, Atchafalaya and Mausura Plains, the battles of Winchester, Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek and, after Lincoln's assassination, performed picket duty around the nation's capital. The 153rd mustered out October 2, 1865 and John arrived back home on October 18. After the war he was a farm laborer or tenant farmer on several local farms and purchased his final residence in 1874. [Account of his 99th birthday says he bought his farm 2 years after his return.] For reasons unknown, John was not a member of the G.A.R. but a frequent visitor to Farrell Post No. 51, G.A.R. After its disbandment he frequently attended meetings of the Raymond W. Smith Post, No. 222, of the American Legion, was a regular guest of honor at their events, and was an honorary grand marshal in parades, as well as an officer in or president of the joint 115th-153rd veteran's association. Mr. Klinkhart was the last elected president of the 115th-153rd Regiment Association. He attended the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. A little over a month prior to his death, he was a guest of honor at the 1943 Memorial Day service at Canajoharie Falls Cemetery.

According to the Schenectady Gazette's account of the annual reunion of the 155th-153rd held at Amsterdam in 1930, the seven survivors present agreed that "The survivors plan to continue the reunions as long as one member of the two regiments remains alive." In August 1936 Mr. Klinkhart was the lone survivor present at the 57th annual reunion of the 115th-153rd regiments, which was held at Amsterdam's First Baptist Church. John Aucock of Gloversville had died since the previous year's reunion. The other two survivors of the two regiments, 93-year-old Charles W. Scharff of Palatine Bridge, and George Reynolds of Canajoharie, were unable to attend. 2

Mr. Klinkhart's memory of early events of his life was said to be particularly keen. He vividly recalled the military service for Daniel Spencer, last vicinity survivor of the American Revolution, held at Prospect Hill Cemetery on July 7, 1854. He could describe life and events in Canajoharie back to about 1850, when he was 6 and 7 years old, and was up on current events in 1943. [An article about his 96th birthday says that the Spencer funeral was held July 10, 1854.] One can imagine the vivid descriptions of his Civil War service he gave at reunions and military gatherings.

John married Mary L. Spear of State Bridge, Oneida County on December 4, 1867. Mrs. Klinkhart passed away in December 1934. The couple had two sons and two daughters, who survived him at his death. [A popular couple, their yearly wedding anniversaries, and his birthday celebrations, were frequently reported in the local papers.] His children were L. William H. Klinkhart of the village of Canajoharie, and Amos J[ohn]. Klinkhart of Hagerstown, MD., Miss Amelia Klinkhart, who resided at the family homestead, and Mrs. George C. [Ida] Yops of the village of Canajoharie. Other survivors were 3 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, and his sister, Mrs. Caroline Countryman of Illinois.

Mr. Klinkhart was a lifelong staunch Republican, voting to re-elect Lincoln in 1864 while on duty with his regiment in the Shenandoah Valley. Over the years he served his community in several local offices. He was confirmed at St. John's Lutheran Church in 1859 and was for many years a member of their church council.

Mr. Klinkhart's funeral service was held at Lenz Funeral Home at 2:30 p.m. on July 10, 1943, with interment at Canajoharie Falls Cemetery. Raymond W. Smith Post No. 222 of the American Legion assisted at the service. 3

The Amsterdam Evening Recorder, of August 31, 1937 acknowledged Mr. Klinkhart's 94th birthday. At the time he was said to be the sole surviving veteran of the Civil War from the town of Canajoharie. The week before he'd attended the annual reunion of the 115th & 153rd Vol. Infantry, held at Amsterdam, where he presided over the business session and was re-elected president of the association for another year. Each year during his nineties, the papers published articles about his longevity and service to his country. 4

For those who'd like to find out more detail about his Civil War service, John Klinkhart filed for his Civil War invalid pension on January 15, 1889. His application number was 685605, and his certificate number 500185. According to the St. Johnsville town clerk's records, he mustered in as a private on October 18, 1862, and was paid a $200 bounty by the town. He was promoted to Corporal on September 1, 1865 and mustered out October 2, 1865 at Savannah GA.

In the 1890 census veterans schedule of the Town of Canajoharie [S.D. 6, E.D. 69, page 1, line 5], Mr. Klinkhart said that he was a member of Co. E 153rd NY, from August 30, 1862 to October 18, 1865 (which was the day he arrived back home) and had served for 3 years. He also said that he'd incurred the disabilities of piles and chronic diarrhea.

His Wife, Mary Louse Spear Klinkhart

Mary Louise Spear, his wife, peacefully passed away at home on December 12, 1934, at the age of 85, a little over a week after her wedding anniversary. She was born in Berlin, Germany, on December 17, 1848, the daughter of Christian Spear and Sophia Heise, and came to America at the age of 6. The family first resided in St. Johnsville and Oneida NY. She and Mr. Klinkhart were married at St. John's Lutheran Church. She was known for her beautiful garden and contributing flowers to her church and to the sick for many years. Interment was in the family plot at Canajoharie Falls cemetery. Her full maiden name was Mary Louise Sophia Spear. 5

Mr. Klinkhart's Children

L. William H. Klinkhart

An Amsterdam paper gave an account of the lavish, largely-attended 50th anniversary celebration of Mr. & Mrs. L. William H. Klinkhart at the family homestead on Maple Hill Rd. The couple married June 30, 1897. His wife, Maude Neale, was the daughter of Jessie and John Neale of South Valley. This article names the 3 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren of John and Mary Spear Klinkhart. At this time, Miss Amelia Klinkhart had passed away. 6

Just like his father, L. William H. Klinkhart lived to a venerable age and was one of those rare nonagenarians actively engaged in the present-day, with a sharp memory of events of long ago. There is a William H. H. Klinkhart in the local censuses, with wife Caroline, who researchers confuse with this son of John Klinkhart.

L. William H. Klinkhart's celebrated his 91st birthday on September 13, 1959. He could vividly recall events of 70-80 years prior, such as the old wood covered bridge that crossed Canajoharie Creek at Montgomery St., and the big 1870s fire that took out a Canajoharie business district. His three children were Jessie, a school teacher in Lawrence, Long Island; William of Freeport, Long Island, and Mrs. Evelyn Shannon of St. Johnsville. [The Leader-Herald, Gloversville, Saturday, September 12, 1959, page 9]

Retired hardware dealer L. William H. Klinkhart passed away at age 95 at Amsterdam Memorial Hospital on July 7, 1964. He was survived by his son, William H. Klinkhart of Freeport, Long Island, daughters Mrs. John Shannon [this is daughter Evelyn] and Miss Jessie Klinkhart of Canajoharie, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Services were held at Lenz funeral home and interment in Canajoharie Falls cemetery. [Schenectady Gazette, Wednesday, July 8, 1964, page 10]

He was pre-deceased by his wife Mrs. Maude N[eal]. Klinkhart, who died Dec. 31, 1961 at age 88 at St. Mary's Hospital, Amsterdam. She was a native of Rosebloom and had lived in Canajoharie for 67 years. She was survived by husband, daughter Mrs. A. J. Shannon of Canajoharie, daughter Miss Jessie Klinkhart of Cedarhurst NY, son William H. Klinkhart of Freeport NY, 2 grandchildren, 1 g-grandchild, her brother Walter Neal of Detroit MI, her brother Herbert Neal of town of Canajoharie, sister Mrs. John Becker of Cooperstown NY, and several nieces and nephews. [Schenectady Gazette, Monday, January 1, 1962]

There is some interest in this family's lineage and this little fellow seems to have not been found or recorded by researchers. This sad obituary from 1904, documenting a child who appears to have been his first-born, is included here for the benefit of Klinkhart family researchers. Perhaps the unknown name for "L" in L. William H. Klinkhart's name stood for Leland.

Leland Klinkhart

Canajoharie, Jan. 19 - Special. - Last night about 9 o'clock occurred the death of Leland Klinkhart, the 4-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. L. William H. Klinkhart. He had only been ill for about 24 hours with brain fever. The intense agony and suffering endured during that time words are unable to tell. He was an exceptionally bright boy and on Sunday went to church and Sunday school and appeared as well as ever until the fore part of the evening. The blow is indeed a sad one. The family have the sincere sympathy of the community in their irreparable loss. As yet funeral arrangements have not been made. 7

Amos John Klinkhart

Per his 1954 Montgomery County obit, Amos J. Klinkhart, age 80, passed away Friday in Hagerstown, Md., after a short illness. He was born in Canajoharie on September 19, 1874, graduated from Canajoharie High School, and from Cornell University in architecture. He worked for the government for a few years in Washington D.C. and then established his own successful practice in Hagerstown, where he lived 46 years. His first wife was Emma Knott of Canajoharie, who passed away in 1939. His second and surviving wife was Mrs. Kitty Mau (?) Klinkhart. He was also survived by his brother William L. Klinkhart, his sister Mrs. George Yops, and two nieces and nephews. The funeral was held in Hagerstown, and interment on November 2, 1954 at Canajoharie Falls Cemetery. 8 A longer obit in the Hagerstown Daily Mail newspaper details his architectural career in designing important large public buildings and his many club and organizational memberships.

Amelia Klinkhart had always lived with her parents, taken care of her widowed father, and she survived him by only about 6 months.

Amelia M. Klinkhart

Canajoharie- Miss Amelia M. Klinkhart, 72, died suddenly Friday [January 21, 1944] at her home on the Canajoharie-Sharon Springs highway where she had lived most of her life. She was born in the Town of Canajoharie Nov. 24, 1871, daughter of John and Mary Spear Klinkhart. Her father was the last surviving Civil war veteran of Montgomery county, and died last July at the age of 99. Miss Klinkhart was a member of St. Mark's Lutheran church. Surviving are two brothers, L. William H. Klinkhart of Canajoharie and Amos John Klinkhart of Hagerstown, Md.; one sister, Mrs. George Yops of this village, two nieces and a nephew. Funeral services will be Monday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at the Lenz funeral home. Rev. Frank Shimer, pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran church, will officiate and the body will be placed in the Arkell Memorial vault for burial in the spring in the Canajoharie Falls cemetery. 9

Ida M. Klinkhart Yops

According to her listing in Canajoharie Falls Cemetery, Ida Klinkhart Yops passed away in 1963, a few months short of her 83rd birthday. Her husband George passed away in 1952. Here is a marriage notice for their 1905 wedding.


Canajoharie, Nov. 1- Today at noon at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Klinkhart took place the marriage of their younger daughter, Ida M., to George C. Yops, son of Casper Yops. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. W. M. Baum, D.D., pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran church, of which the bride and bridegroom are both active members, and was witnessed by only the immediate relatives and most intimate friends. After the ceremony a bountiful repast was enjoyed.

Mr. and Mrs. Yops let on the afternoon train or a short wedding trip in western New York, and later will commence housekeeping in the house on Walnut street to be vacated by William C. Shaper.

The bride is a popular young woman and excellently qualified to assume the duties arising in a new home. Mr. Yops is a young man of sterling character and is one of Uncle Sam's men, being the mail carrier over R.F.D. route, No. 2, from this office.

The many friends of both Mr. and Mrs. Yops extend sincere congratulations and will accord them a hearty welcome home upon returning from their honeymoon. 10

Sources of information:
1 - Evening Recorder, Amsterdam NY, Thursday, June 30, 1938, page 7
2 - Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Wednesday, August 25, 1936, page 3
3 - The Morning Herald, Gloversville & Johnstown NY, Friday, July 9, 1943
4 - Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Tuesday, August 31, 1937
5 - The Morning Herald, Gloversville & Johnstown, Thursday, December 13, 1934, page 10
6 - Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Wednesday, July 2, 1947
7 - Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Tuesday, January 19, 1904, page 3
8 - Evening Recorder, Amsterdam NY, Tuesday, November 2, 1954, page 7
9 - Schenectady Gazette, Monday, January 24, 1944, page 4
10 - Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Wednesday, November 1, 1905, page 10
Various newspaper articles, census listings, etc. New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900 U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865

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Created: 5/28/16
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