Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Along the Way: Tillie Pierce Alleman

Grave of Matilda "Tillie" Pierce Alleman
A trip to Selinsgrove brought me to the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, which was its own adventure finding its location. I was given directions to the cemetery, only when I arrived I discovered I was at the wrong one.

Pulling up a map of Selinsgrove, I soon discovered another nearby cemetery that was possibly the correct one. A couple minutes later I was wandering about the grounds of the small historic cemetery located at the corner of West Spruce and David Streets. At the edge of the cemetery was the grave of the town founder, Captain Anthony Selin – I paused for a moment to take some pictures of the memorial before continuing my wanderings.

Near the rear of the cemetery was the grave I came in search of – Matilda J. (Pierce) Alleman. Tillie, as she was known, was born March 11, 1848 in the house she grew up in, which is located at the corner of Baltimore and Breckenridge Streets in Gettysburg. She was the youngest daughter of the town butcher, having two older brothers and an older sister.

She grew up enjoying the quiet of a relatively unknown town, but at the age of fifteen the peaceful town she knew would change forever.

During the events of the first day of the battle, her neighbor Mrs. Schriver approached the family saying she was going to leave town for a safer place. Tillie would join Mrs. Schriver and her two children as they moved to a safer location south of town.

The safer place was the home of Mrs. Schriver’s father – Mr. Jacob Weikert.

 Little did they know they moved into the midst of the battle. Tillie records her duty of getting water for the passing soldiers on the first day and the second morning she resumed those duties. By the afternoon of the second day, she was helping the doctors and nurses who were attending the wounded and dying. The morning of the third day of the battle, she moved farther south to the Two Taverns area along the Baltimore Pike. There she continued helping care for the wounded.

After the war, she married Horace Alleman and they settled down in Selinsgrove. Many were interested in her stories of the battle and encouraged her to write them down – the result was At Gettysburg, Or What A Girl Saw And Heard Of The Battle.

I stood there recalling her first-hand account of what she experienced during the battle, one particular thought kept coming to mind. In her account Tillie kept returning to how much the battle changed the landscape – the peaceful lands of her childhood were forever scarred.

As with all cemeteries, please be respectful if you choose to visit.

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