Attempting to sort out where some Gettysburg families originated is difficult, especially when so many distantly related kinsmen have the same names. Such is the case with the Weikert families in Gettysburg and the surrounding farms in Cumberland Township – which were found standing in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg during the summer of 1863.
The original Weikert ancestor was Johann (John) Andrew Weikert, who sailed from a small Bavarian town to Philadelphia with his young wife in 1735. He settled near Gettysburg, in what was then York County, fought in the American Revolution and then built a home for his extensive family. One of his sons was named George, who also fought in the Revolutionary War.1
The man who owned the George Weikert farm during the Battle of Gettysburg, however, was not a descendant of that particular George.
The farm that became Gettysburg’s George Weikert farm was owned first by Peter Weikert, one of Johann Andrew’s numerous posterity. When he owned the land where the George Weikert house stands on Hancock Avenue near the intersection with United States Avenue on Cemetery Ridge, the tax records for 1798 list a log cabin and large log barn on the property. When he died, Henry Bishop acquired the property.2
Henry Bishop had also owned what later became the Leister Farm. He was the son-in-law of George Weikert, who was the son of John Andrew. Henry’s wife, Mary, was a Weikert. In 1851, both were aged, having been born in 1786 and 1788, respectively – when they sold the property to a man named George Washington Weikert.3
The George W. Weikert who owned the Weikert farm during the Civil War is probably distantly related to the other Weikerts in and around Gettysburg. Ancestry records show that he and his wife, Anna, were born in Maryland – although other sources list that he was born in Germany and emigrated at a young age. He and Anna came to Gettysburg about 1838 and were the parents of a large family: Jacob, John, George Jr., William Francis, Hannah, Andrew Valentine, Emmanuel, and Elizabeth Louisa. Two other children, Nancy and Samuel, died in childhood.4
George Washington Weikert purchased his Gettysburg farm from the aged Henry Bishop, who used Abraham Spangler as his agent. George paid $1645 for 82 acres of land, which included acres of good timber, two “ never failing ” wells fed from a plentiful spring, a large double bay log barn, a house, an apple orchard, and several outbuildings.5
According to George and Anna’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth Louisa, the house seen today was already on the property, at least partially, when her father purchased the farm but the upper part of the house was wooden and only the bottom portion was made of stone.6
There are no records to indicate when the quaint two-story stone house was built. Tax records do not show a home on the property before the 1850s, but Louisa declared that when they moved to their Gettysburg farm, there was a house there. The house, or at least part of it, could have been built as early as the 1820s and as late as the 1850s. It was definitely standing before war came to Gettysburg.
In 1863, George Weikert was 53 years old. He and Anna had four children still living at home that year: Hannah, Valentine, Emmanuel and Louisa. Three of his older sons, Jacob, John and George Jr., had married and were living nearby in homes with their families when the war came. Jacob, who lived on the Taneytown Road, moved to Ohio with his wife’s family, the Slyders, sometime after the war. John, married to the former Sarah Keefauver, also lived on the Taneytown Road. The couple had two small children by 1863. John fought with the 138th Pennsylvania Regiment. George Jr. fought with the 1st Maryland Cavalry – which had many Gettysburg men in the ranks.7
Louisa, the youngest daughter, was twelve years old during the battle. Much of what we know about the family and the home has been documented by her.
Like most Gettysburg residents, the Weikerts were taken by surprise when the battle traveled south of town after the first day. George and his family were still at home on July 2, and about to partake of dinner when soldiers told them they needed to leave. Already, wounded combatants were being carried into the house; and the family abruptly left, in haste, their repast still on the table. They found shelter in the village of Two Taverns, located on the Baltimore Pike a few miles south of Gettysburg, where they remained until the battle was over.
When they returned, a shocking picture greeted them. Both the house and the spacious barn were busy hospital stations, “ filled with wounded and dying from both sides.” 8
Inside the house, “ six men died in the parlor alone ” and “ graves soon dotted the yard .” Doctors had been working furiously in the family’s absence, and the Weikerts were aghast to see “ the remains of hasty operations, bones, amputated arms and legs, were piled high in front of the windows. Mr. Weikert opened the windows and simply threw those gruesome remains into the yard .” 9
The Weikerts, according to the family lore, helped with the wounded.
It appears that other relatives had found shelter with George Weikert and his family. Family historian, Edward L. Weikert, a descendant of Jacob Weikert (a different family line), wrote that his great-grandmother, the widowed Mariah Bishop, stayed with George and Anna Weikert during the battle, and likely left with them to go to Two Taverns. Edward claimed that Mrs. Bishop “ carried a rolling pin (and other articles) from the George Weikert House (which he stated was “ almost in the center of the conflict ”) to another Weikert House on the Taneytown Road (he believes it was the John Weikert house, where the women baked bread unceasingly for a week to feed the ailing soldiers and civilians). The women, according to John Weikert’s wife, Sarah: “ baked bread for one whole week. The only time we lay down to sleep was when the bread was in the oven and then we would catch a few minutes’ rest .”10
Louisa recalled that the “ parlor carpet was missing” when they returned home, “but the mystery was solved when they started to exhume the bodies for burial in the National Cemetery. One strip of carpet had been placed in a trench, a number of bodies were laid out on it and covered with another strip, and after that the crude grave was hastily filled in.”11
“Every sheet in the town of Gettysburg and all the towels and bedclothes were used to make bandages,” remembered daughter-in-law Sarah, “ and sometimes we even took the lace curtains from the windows .” 12
Long after the men in blue and gray left Gettysburg and the war had ended; the Weikert farm still endured a fiery trial. In 1868, when Andrew Emmanuel was living there, a fire started shortly before dinner in “ one of the pipes passing through the ceiling.” Before the fire could be put out, the entire inside of the house, including most of the furniture, was destroyed. It is believed that, after the fire, the second story and the gables were added. The barn was also largely remodeled after the war. The side porch, which is laden with wisteria in the spring, was also added after the war. 13
After the fire, George Weikert sold his farm to James Timbers, a farmer of ethnic descent. For many years, the George Weikert farm was known to Gettysburg residents as the Timbers farm. George died in 1885.
The Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association acquired the farm in 1887; and the property was conveyed to the newly established Gettysburg National Military Park in early February 1896.14
Situated in its quiet, bucolic setting, the gabled stone house, which has altered it appearance somewhat since the harrowing summer days in 1863, belies the horror that occurred within its walls and surrounding yard.
“How anyone lived through those awful days,” remembered Sarah Weikert, who livednearby, “no one will ever know .”15
Sources: Adams County Tax Records/Henry Bishop/Peter Weikert/George W. Weikert, 1798, 1851. Adams County Historical Society (hereafter ACHS). Death Certificate, George W. Weikert, Jr., 1916. Copy, Ancestry.com. Frassanito, William A. Early Photography at Gettysburg . Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1995. Letter, Joseph Weigard to Frederick Tillberg, 23 Feb. 1961. Copy, Weikert Farm File, Gettysburg National Military Park (hereafter GNMP). Obituary, Mrs. Edmund Bair (Louisa Weikert), The Gettysburg Times, 7 March, 1944. U.S. Census, 1860. Record of Conveyance, the George Weikert Farm, GNMP. Weikert, Edward L. The History of the Weikert Family . Harrisburg, PA: The Telegraph Press, 1930. George W. Weikert Civilian Accounts File, ACHS. George W. Weikert Family Tree, Ancestry.com. John Weikert Pension File, National Archives (copy, Weikert Family File, ACHS). The Philadelphia Press, 4 July, 1913 (Copy, Sarah Weikert Civilian Account File, ACHS). The Star & Sentinel, 29 Jan., 1875. The Star & Sentinel, 1 Sep. 1885.
1. Weikert, Edward L., p. 3.
2. Adams County Tax Records, ACHS.
3. Weikert, Edward L., p. 167.
4. U.S. Census 1860. George Weikert Family Tree, Ancestry.com. George Weikert Jr. Death Certificate, 1916. On the death certificate for George Jr., Emmanuel Weikert, his son, listed his grandfather’s place of birth as Germany. The family tree lists Maryland as George Sr.’s birthplace. Other records list another son of George, Sr. named Charles.
5. Star & Sentinel, 1 Sep. 1885.
6. Letter, Weigard to Tillberg, 23 Feb. 1961, GNMP.
7. John Weikert Pension Records, NA. Frassanito, p. 259. It is important to note that Jacob Weikert, the son of George W., was not the same Jacob as the older Jacob Weikert of the well-known Jacob Weikert Farm behind Little Round Top, where Gen. Stephen Weed died. Both Jacobs lived on the Taneytown Road not far apart from each other.
8. Mrs. Edmund Bair Obituary, Gettysburg Times, 7 Mar. 1944. George Weikert Civilian Acct. File, ACHS.
10. Weikert, Edward L., p. 3. Philadelphia Press, 4 July, 1913.
11. George Weikert Civilian Acct. File, ACHS.
12. Philadelphia Press, 4 July, 1913.
13. Star & Sentinel, 29 Jan., 1875.
14. Record of Conveyance, GNMP. Frassanito, p. 259.
15. Philadelphia Press, 4 July, 1913.
Many thanks to Tim Smith of the Adams County Historical Society for his help in the research for this article.