Remembering James H. Craig

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day to remember people who died while serving in the military. I am honoring my only ancestor who died during military service, James H. Craig.

James H. Craig was born in August 1823 in Franklin or Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He was one of six children of Scottish immigrant John Craig and Nancy Charlton.

At 26, James married Catharine Ann Stewart, daughter of Daniel Stewart and Elizabeth Reed. The couple were wed by Reverend John Moody on 21 March 1850 at Middle Spring Presbyterian Church in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

Craig 1850 Marriage James Catharine
Middle Spring Presbyterian Church Records, p. 55, in “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,”

Later that year the couple welcomed their first child, James Stewart Craig, on 30 October 1850 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Catharine must have had her hands full as the couple had four more sons over the next 11 years: John Charlton, Daniel David, William Love, and Henderson “Harry” F.

James must have been a jack-of-all-trades. In 1850, he is listed as a tanner, while in 1860 he is a shoemaker. However, his son stated that James worked for a while as a teacher and later opened general stores in Roxbury and Dry Run. According to his son, James also had a strong interest in local politics, but there is no indication that he ever ran for or held an elected office. In February 1859, he succeeded Henry S. Doyle as postmaster of Dry Run in Franklin County. He held the position of postmaster for two and a half years.

On 1 September 1862 James enlisted in the 77th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at Chambersburg. Seventeen days later he mustered in to Company A at Harrisburg. The regiment was attached to the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee. For the first six months of 1863 the regiment was stationed near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Later, Washington Skinner, promoted to Captain of Company A after James’ death, would report that James contracted an unknown illness, likely dysentery, at the beginning of June. His health continued to deteriorate and in July he was transferred to the hospital at Tullahoma, Tennessee under the care of surgeon Benjamin Woodward. James died there on 27 August 1863 and was buried at Stones River National Cemetery in Murfreesboro.

Craig 1863 Death James H
Pennsylvania, A-C, p. 152, from “U.S., Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, 1861-1865” on

Cover photo courtesy of Ron Zanoni on flickr.

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