“For my age I’m doing well” – Charles Kershner remembers his life in Schuylkill County

In the final part of an interview with a reporter from the Pottsville Republican, Civil War veteran and long-time Pottsville resident Charles Kershner talked about his late wife, his many occupations in and around Schuylkill County, and how he was faring in his older years. 

Read Part 1 

Read Part 2 

From the Pottsville Republican, February 12, 1927: 

Not being intimately acquainted with Mr. Kerschner, I asked him whether he had ever married.

“Oh yes,” he answered, “I married the eldest daughter of Louis Herwig, who used to keep a barber shop and toy store here in town. I married while still in the service and my wife traveled with me. Soldiers’ wives used to get one ration a day, same as the soldiers did. And they earned extra money regularly by doing laundering jobs. I don’t know how they arrange those things nowadays.

Then I inadvertently touched a tender spot of memory by inquiring further along these lines. His wife, I discovered, had passed away three years ago. Thus was a note of sadness brought into the interview which was dispelled when I suggested another topic, the Soldiers’ Monument, in Garfield Square.

Pottsville Monument 1
The Civil War monument in Pottsville dedicated to local residents who fought between 1861 and 1865.

“I remember seeing him lay over at the station when he came in,” said the veteran. “He was erected by means of poles, used to raise him into position. These poles were afterward spliced, and became the Indian pole, which stood before the Hotel Allan for many years, and became a landmark in the town. This Indian stood at the corner of Centre and Mahantongo streets, and was a competitive goal for the streams of the various fire companies They would gather around him and try to shoot streams over his head. It was lots of fun. As well as my memory serves me the Good Intent Col was the only one to succeed in squirting a stream over him.

“The Indian still exists, although he has changed his abode. He stands on the hill over in Port Carbon, just as he used to stand at Centre and Mahantongo streets, only somewhat changed in appearance because of exposure to all sorts of weather these many years.

After he left the service, Mr. Kerschner settled down in this city, working at various jobs here and there. For some years he was a railroader on the P.&R. working between this point and Sunbury. For many more years he was a private coachman, although he did mention the names of his employers. Then, as he grew older, gardening claimed his attention.

sunbury-philareadingrrbridge-moonlight-001a
(Lykensvalley.org)

“At one time I worked in the old Derr Foundry,” he told me. “This was after it had passed from the hands of the original owners, and was being run by the York Safe Company. I fired the boilers there as I did at many another place before and since. That is one of the local industries that have survived. Part of the old building still stands as it did when the Derr brothers conducted the business.”

By this time his cigar had become a heap of ashes, and with its passing all desire to talk seemed to have fled. And so I deemed it desirable to terminate the interview, making one last inquiry, which concerned his health.

“Oh, I’m in pretty good condition. Some days I feel real good, and other days not so good. Some time ago I had a fall and hurt my arm. This has bothered me off and on ever since. But I think for my age I’m doing well.”

Charles Kershner Photograph Small
Charles Kershner in the 1920s – Pottsville Republican

To which I could not help but agree after having seen the results of the working of his mind, which retains all its own keenness.

Charles Kershner passed away two years after giving this interview, in September 1929 at the age of 81. 

Kershner Obit 1Kershner Obit 2


Featured Image: Charles Kershner in the 1920s – Pottsville Republican and the war monuments in Garfield Square – Boston Public Library  


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