2019 Postage Rate Increase

 Remember when a stamp was 4 cents?

Remember when a stamp was 4 cents?

2019 Postage Rate Increase

Reminder to all CWRT members - postage goes up again in 2019. Dues remain the same. Your donations to the annual appeal and allowing us to send items via email, instaed of USPS help!


  • The First Class Mail Letter (1 oz.) rate for postage purchased at the Post Office will increase by five cents to $0.55 from $0.50.

  • Each additional ounce for a First Class Mail letter will cost $0.15 (a decrease from $0.21).

  • “Metered Mail” rates for First Class Mail Letters (1 oz.), which includes online postage providers and postage meters, will increase three cents to $0.50 from $0.47. Each additional ounce will cost $0.15.

  • The five cent “Metered Mail” rate discount for a First Class Mail letter (1 oz.) compared to the Post Office rate represents a savings of 9%.

  • First Class Mail Flats/Large Envelopes (1 oz.) rates will not increase and will remain at $1.00. Each additional ounce will cost $0.15.

History's Headlines: This old house finds a new life {with CWRT new members}

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An article featuring the home built by a Civil War Veteran and now used by new members of the CWRT for their business.

Posted on WFMZ.com Feb 19, 2018
Written by CWRT Board Member Frank Whalen

“Have you heard about the exciting things happening in Allentown?” These are the words that Shelby Edwards and James Whitney, a young couple, recall hearing from a friend, words that began their journey to the Lehigh Valley from Seattle.

Deciding they needed to put their business littledrill LLC (“a photography studio that combines conventional design photography and styling for brands and business”) closer to New York, the two artists/entrepreneurs began looking around. Knowing that the costs of living and operating a business in Manhattan and the general New York/New Jersey metropolitan area were out of their price range, but wanting to live in an urban environment, they were first attracted to urban pioneering opportunities in Detroit.

“We had pretty much made up our minds about moving there,” says Edwards, who is the owner and creative director of littledrill LLC, and had been a top stylist manager for Nordstrom in Seattle, “when a friend told us about Allentown.” Not only was it affordable for them but the Lehigh Valley was close enough to New York for them to get in and out of. Both she and Whitney, who is a professional photographer, were excited and acted. Since last year they have purchased a house and a business space in downtown Allentown. As part of what Professor Richard Florida christened “the creative class” that has been reviving American cities, the couple would be considered cutting edge.

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But there is another aspect of 1122 Hamilton, one that Edwards and Whitney were not aware of when they brought the property. They have since discovered that the building was built in 1872 by carpenter and wood worker artist Abraham Babp as a home for his family. Although the space has been much changed since Babp’s day, Edwards and Whitney sense a link with the building’s history. “Knowing that a creative person, a wood worker/artist like Babp made his home here adds a whole wonderful dimension to the space for us,” says Whitney. “It is almost as if we in are a part of a continuity with the city’s artists and artisans of the past.”

On October 24, 1929 the New York Stock Exchange collapsed in a frenzy of stock-selling, heralding the arrival of the Great Depression. All of which held no interest for 92-year-old Abraham Babp of 1122 Hamilton Street. Lying in bed in his home, he was dying. For two weeks Babp, who had enjoyed good health for many years, could feel old age and his aliments catching up with him. But almost to the end his mind remained clear. Finally, at 9 o’ clock on the evening of October 25th, 1929, with his unmarried daughter Anna nearby, Babp joined in death his wife Sarah, who had died 15 years before. He was buried next to her in Fairview Cemetery.

By standards of any era Babp had lived a good, long life. And from his birth on June 17, 1837 to Charles and Lydia Shug Babp in Forks Township near Easton, he had seen changes in technology that included the railroad, the telephone and the light bulb. His obituary notes that he particularly observed and commented on the changes of transportation from wagon, to horse drawn street car, to electric trolley car and finally to automobile that passed outside his Hamilton Street front door.

Sometime in his youth Babp left Northampton County for Allentown. Here he went to work for Charles Hanzelman’s organ factory (his obituary misspelled it Heintzleman, apparently confusing it with a prominent Allentown family) to learn the trade of organ maker. The factory was located on Walnut St. near 9th.  The term factory in the context of pre-Civil War Lehigh Valley should not be taken to mean mass production. Like many things in the 19th century, organ making was still largely a skilled trade. Babp should be seen as more of a skilled organ maker then a factory worker.

The biggest thing that happened in Babp’s long life was the Civil War. Although there are no known photos of Babp, he may be in one of those collective photos of graying, bewhiskered veterans that were taken in the early 20th century at Center Square. On September 17, 1861 he joined the 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He signed up in Northampton County and was a part of Company B, which was largely made up of Northampton County volunteers. The regiment formed up in Harrisburg on November 16, 1861 for three years enlistment. At that time nobody assumed that the war was going to take long. The 24-year-old Babp saw his first action on February 8, 1862 in the battle of Roanoke Island. This was followed by the battle of New Bern, North Carolina.

In July the 51st Pa. was ordered north to Virginia. They saw plenty of action serving at the Second Battle of Bull Run along with the battles of Chantilly and South Mountain. And this put them on September 17, 1862, exactly a year after Babp’s enlistment, in line for the battle of Antietam (Lee’s invasion into Maryland) as part of the Army of the Potomac.

One of the most important moments of this confused, bloody mess christened with the name of a battle occurred at a stone bridge. Then called Rohrbach Bridge, it was used by farmers to take their produce to market. Today it is known as Burnside’s Bridge after the bumbling Union General Ambrose Burnside who had been given the task of capturing it. His commander was the imperious, ambitious General George McClellan, aka the Little Napoleon. McClellan despised Lincoln, who he went out of his way to snub. He knew he would make a better president than that hayseed with his corn-fed jokes and ran against him for the White House in 1864. He lost.

Burnside’s opposite number was Confederate Brigadier General Robert Toombs. Toombs was convinced that by rights he should be the President of the Confederacy. After a brief, tumultuous time as the Secretary of State, he resigned to join the army.

Historians still debate whether Burnside or McClellan was most responsible for sending the flower of the Union Army charging against entrenched Confederate sharpshooters. But send them they did, turning the Antietam Creek red. After three hours of this futile combat the 51st Pennsylvania and the 51st New York were called in to take up the task.

Both regiments were led by Brigadier General Edward Ferrero, a dapper former dancing master from New York who gave a rousing speech.

Finally, the 51st Pa. in the person of Corporal Lewis Patterson spoke up. Described by historian Stephen Sears as a “fractious head case outfit,” they had been denied their whiskey ration for some infraction.  “If we take the bridge, sir, can we have our whiskey?” shouted Patterson. Without missing a beat Ferrero shouted back, “Yes, by God!” The words were greeted with a cheer.

The Rebels were low on ammunition and had been fighting for three hours. Yet they still were able to keep up a heavy fire. Members of the bridge assault started to drop. Finally, the two regiments joined and, Sears writes, “in a solid column under two regimental flags side by side,” they carried the bridge. Standing next to the bridge, Col. John F. Hartranft, of the 51st Pa and later to be Pennsylvania’s governor was shouting himself hoarse. “Come on boys, for I can’t halloo anymore.” When his voice finally gave out Hartranft vigorously waved his hat.

A few days after. when one of “the bloodier contests of that bloody day was over,” the dancing master kept his promise and 51st Pa. got its reward, a full keg of it. They had suffered 21 dead and 84 wounded.


Where Private Abraham Babp was in all this is unknown. But one thing is fairly certain, he was not with his comrades when they faced the Rebels again at Fredericksburg in December, 1862 when Burnside was defeated by Lee. It was probably in early October, 1862 when they were camped at Pleasant Valley, Maryland that Babp left them. Babp became ill from with what the newspaper called “unsanitary camp conditions,” i.e., dysentery, which took the lives of more men North and South than bullets and also that of little Willie Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son.

Babp was taken to Harewood military hospital in Washington, to recover. It was here that he discovered his wood working skills. “He showed adeptness at wood carving by whittling from roots dainty napkin rings that are really works of art,” noted his obituary. “Three of these completed in November and December of 1862, encircled with blossoms and twigs, are all part of the main piece of wood. Carved on the edge are his name and regiment with which he served, the name of the hospital and the date when completed. Rings, emblematic of his regiment were also carved by him from bone and wood.”

Babp was discharged from the 51st Pa. on April 17, 1863. He returned to Allentown and took up his work as an organ builder, only now using his skills as a woodworker to decorate them as well.  He also installed organs in churches. In 1878/79 Babp began to list himself in the city directory as a carpenter instead of organ maker. Charles Hanzelman closed the organ factory in 1881 and died the following year.

For the next 40 years Babp built many homes in Allentown.  He did so working in cooperation with other artesian builders. By the early 20th century he was listed in the city directory as a yeoman, someone who lived off his investments in local property, many of which he probably built than rented out.

Sometime after returning from the war Babp married Sarah R. Kramer. In 1872 he built his home at 1222 where he raised two daughters. His wife died around 1915.  He lived on in his home with daughter Anna (his other daughter married and moved to New York) until his death. Anna Babp lived there until her death in the 1940s. Shortly thereafter it was converted to offices.

Shelby Edwards and James Whitney honor and respect Abraham Babp’s life and memory and his spirit. “We feel in a way he is welcoming us to Allentown.”

Annual Appeal for the CWRT of Eastern PA

Annual Appeal for the CWRT of Eastern PA


Dear members and supporters of the Civil War Round Table of Eastern PA, Inc,

On this link, please find a letter of appeal for your support of our organization. As you all are most likely aware, the cost of "doing business" of any organization or business always seems to rise, not fall as time passes. This is true for our CWRT as well. Venue costs go up as food and staff costs increase; speaker costs rise as we do provide accommodations as needed as well as provide travel reimbursement. Our goal is always to support historic preservation and educational initiatives with whatever money we retain over expenses. None of our Officers and Board members receive payment other than occasional reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. Most of them donate more than time and energy and do it freely and passionately.

It is not or intent or desire to increase our dues or dinner costs as we wish to encourage membership and we wish to keep our dinner cost affordable. We feel strongly that our members and friends receive excellent value for both items. 

We do need your help however. We realize that all of us receive pleas, especially at this time of the year, and we also realize that there are more good causes than any of us as individuals can possibly support.

This plea is definitely a soft sell as we do not wish any of you to feel that there is  pressure to make any sort of a donation at this time. It is strictly up to each of you to decide if this is something you wish to do and have the resources to do.

Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated. Donations may be tax-deductible as the CWRT is a 501(C)3  -non-profit corporation.


Edwin Root and the Officers and Directors of the CWRT of Eastern PA, Inc

Link to Appeal Letter and Donation Form

From the Brigade Commander ~ December 2018

From the Brigade Commander


     If any of you missed our November meeting you missed an excellent evening with Gordon Rhea. He is one of the preeminent historians and authors of our day. His series of offerings on the Overland Campaign of 1864 are wonderful. Some folks are great writers but not polished speakers. Gordon tops the list on both accounts. If you don’t have his most recent book, On to Petersburg: Grant and Lee, June 4-15 1864 run out and treat yourself for the Holiday Season. Gordon’s analysis of Grant and Lee was both entertaining and informative. Special thanks to those members who assisted financially in bringing Mr Rhea to the Lehigh Valley.  

     We have a number of items that have been donated over time that do not quite meet our book raffle guide lines so some will be available at very reasonable prices at the Sign In table. With the holidays fast approaching there are some wonderful gift choices! 

     At recent meeting we have encouraged those who can’t attend the dinner portion of our gathering to move forward from the “walk in” section of the room to better hear and see the speaker. Once the meal is over we’ll announce when it’s appropriate to move your chair or find an empty spot at one of the tables. The choice is yours so sit wherever you are comfortable. We want all attendees to get the best experience from each program.

     I announced at the November meeting that the site of our Gettysburg conservation work on April 27th will be at the John Slyder Farm. See information concerning this fun and important event further on in this newsletter.                                                                                                  

     Our Tri-fold Meeting and Speakers information sheets are a wonderful way to spread the word about our meetings and Programs. Please help us grow by doing your part to get our message out into the community!!! 

     Bill Frankenfield has graciously donated 4 general admission tickets to the National Museum of the Civil War Medicine sites. These include the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, MD, the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum in Washington, DC and the Pry House Hospital Museum on Antietam National Battlefield. Your Board of Directors will be working on the best way to determine how this gift should be utilized.

     Thanks to everyone who responded to our monthly contest on a word definition from Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. Remember, the first person who finds the word and definition in our website and emails me receives 3 free book raffle tickets at our December meeting.

     Dues are overdue! Send your $25.00 check (It’s ok to send more if you’re so inclined!) to our PO Box 333, Allentown, PA 18105. See Paymaster Jeff Gates at the December meeting.

     Please join us on December 4th when Rich Rosenthal will present, “Civil War Women of Compassion, Courage and Grit.” See you then!

                             Ed Root   sartilly@hotmail.com   610-417-6673

Gettysburg NMP Conservation Day – Saturday, April 27, 2019

 Scene in movie Gettysburg between  R E LEE & JEB Stuart filmed here.

Scene in movie Gettysburg between
R E LEE & JEB Stuart filmed here.

Gettysburg NMP Conservation Day – Saturday, April 27, 2019

Our annual work day will entail work at the John Slyder Farm on the southern end of the battlefield. As always there will be something for everyone including fence painting & fence rebuilding. This will be our 5th year since we’ve expanded our role by including partners from Saucon Valley High School, Boy Scout Troop 89 from New Tripoli & the Whitehall Historical Society. Most groups who volunteer at Gettysburg have limited numbers and have limited goals. Because our numbers have reached 40 to 50 some folks we have been able to help the National Park Service staff accomplish projects other group cannot attempt. Caitlin Brown, Park Coordinator will once interpret action that occurred on the site after our task is completed. All are welcome. Please advise me if you know of any other folks outside of our CWRT membership who may have an interest in this rewarding labor.

 Fence Painting

Fence Painting

    The John Slyder farm was on the western side of Big Round Top, just down Plum Run from the Devil’s Den. John had moved from Maryland and bought the 75 acre farm in 1849. By the 1860’s it included a two story stone house, barn, blacksmith and carpenter shops, an orchard of peach and pear trees, thirty acres of timber and eighteen acres of meadow.

 Fence Rebuild

Fence Rebuild

   On July 2nd Confederate General John B. Hood’s Division swept across Slyder’s farm in its advance toward the Devil’s Den and Little Round Top. The crops and orchards were trampled and destroyed and the farm buildings became a Confederate field hospital, with the family’s possessions looted or spoiled. Two months after the battle, in September, John sold the farm and moved to Ohio. The Slyder family had connections with other Gettysburg families. John’s wife Catherine was the sister of Lydia Leister, whose house became General Meade’s headquarters during the battle. And in October of 1863 John’s son William married Josephine Miller, the granddaughter of Peter and Susan Rogers, whose farm lay on Emmitsburg Road.

 Vermont Sharpshooters monument. (L-R) Jeff Gates, Tony Major, Caitlin Brown & Chuck Cannon

Vermont Sharpshooters monument. (L-R) Jeff Gates, Tony Major, Caitlin Brown & Chuck Cannon

   The farm passed to the Snyder family, who owned it around the turn of the century. It is now owned by the National Park Service. The monument to Companies E & H, Second United States Sharpshoters (Vermont Sharpshooters) is beside the driveway in front of the farmhouse. 

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Field Trip to Antietam with Dennis Frye


CWRT of Eastern PA took a field trip on Saturday October 20 to the Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland. National known historian and former NPS Ranger Dennis Frye led the group of almost 30 people on an incredible afternoon lecture and walking tour.

We began with an overview of the battlefield, and then carpooled to the area at the Lower (Burnside) Bridge. It was here, on that day in September 1862 along the Antietam Creek, where Union forces began a flanking maneuver around the Confederate troops, while others of Burnside’s Corps were keeping the defenders occupied.

We walked almost two and half miles along the creek, looking at terrain and talking about tactics used in Civil War battles. We found Snavely’s Ford, the place where 3,200 Union soldiers crossed and came around the Georgians.


Once flanked, the Georgians holding the bridge were attacked and the bridge seized. Fyre described the time it took for the balance of his forces and artillery to cross the bridge, and then set up a line for their final assault on the Confederate right. Showing us where that final assault took place, he described the action as A.P. Hill’s Confederate forces arrived from Harper’s Ferry to disrupt the Union advance.

It was a great trip.

From the Brigade Commander ~ November 2018

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  The regiment was the building block of every Civil War Army and the individual soldier “is” the regiment. This basic fact is sometimes overlooked in the grand scheme of the strategic and tactical movements of thousands upon thousands of combatants. David Ward did a wonderful job bringing the men of the 96th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry alive for us at our October meeting. Much gratitude is also due to Gary Weaver for bringing the flag of the 96th reenactment group to our meeting.  

     We have a number of items that have been donated over time that do not quite meet our book raffle guide lines so some will be available at very reasonable prices at the Sign In table. 

     At recent meeting we have encouraged those who can’t attend the dinner portion of our gathering to move forward from the “walk in” section of the room to better hear and see the speaker. Once the meal is over we’ll announce when it’s appropriate to move your chair or find an empty spot at one of the tables. The choice is yours so sit wherever you are comfortable. We want all attendees to get the best experience from each program.

     I will be meeting on November 2nd with Caitlin Brown at Gettysburg and expect to announce at our November meeting the conservation work site for our annual effort. (Saturday, April 27, 2019). Wherever we end up working we will have fun, it will be a beautiful day and the Gettysburg Battlefield will benefit from our effort. Be a part of this wonderful day!

     Our Tri-fold Meeting and Speakers information sheets are a wonderful way to spread the word about our meetings and Programs. Please help us grow by doing your part to get our message out into the community!!! 

     I’ll give you one more chance to play the Devil’s Dictionary Game. Find one of Ambrose Bierce’s fantastic word definitions hidden in our website, email me with the word and receive 3 free raffle tickets to our book raffle at the November meeting. It’s not hard, try it, you’ll like it and I’ll stop whining. It’s a win win people!

     This month we welcome back one of the foremost scholars of our American Experience, Gordon Rhea! He is an old friend of our Round Table who last visited in 2004 if memory serves. His most recent book, On to Petersburg: Grant and Lee, June 4 – 15, 1864 belongs on every Civil War student’s bookshelf as did his previous studies on the Overland Campaign. We look forward to all members and friends being present for his latest visit to the Lehigh Valley.     

     Dues are overdue! Send your $25.00 check (It’s ok to send more if you’re so inclined!) to our PO Box 333, Allentown, PA 18105. See Paymaster Jeff Gates at the November meeting.

                             Ed Root   sartilly@hotmail.com   610-417-6673

CWRT Board Meeting ~ October 23

Our next CWRT of Eastern PA, Inc. Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 23rd at Southern Lehigh Public Library 3200 Preston Lane Center Valley, PA 18034

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Our Board will review activities of the recent meetings and will set plans and goals for the remainder of the Campaign year. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:30. Meetings generally last until 8-8:30PM.

All members are invited.

Please let me know if you plan to attend.

Thank you.

Ed Root
Brigade Commander

From The Brigade Commander ~ October 2018


From the Brigade Commander
October 2018

Our Civil War was a great and horrific tragedy. Great in the sense of scale, something we can hardly understand today. Out of a population of only some 32 million up to 700,000 died and countless others soldiers and civilians alike had lives shattered, many beyond recovery. Horrific by any measure! We can only ponder on what we lost in those who could have contributed to the benefit of our country and within the larger community of humankind.

Johnston Pettigrew was such a man. What a tragic loss! Much gratitude to George Franks for sharing the life of that scholar, soldier and man whose unfulfilled potential echoes down to us today. George has become a good friend of our Round Table and don’t be shocked if he shows up at our annual Preservation/ Conservation day at Gettysburg on April 27th!

On Saturday, August 18, Kay Bagenstose, Kim Jacobs and I represented the CWRT of Eastern Pennsylvania, Inc. at the Civil War Round Table Congress at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg. This gathering of representatives from all over the country explored ways to improve all our organizations. One of the main things we took away from that event is that the quest to bring in new members in the 20-40 year old range is a quest destined in the most part for failure.

Folks in that age range are generally far too involved with kids and jobs and unfortunately just don’t have the time or the energy for more activities. All the groups in attendance reported this fact so we are not alone in not being successful in that quest. This doesn’t mean we should not try to gain new devotees to our organization in that or any age bracket. We have always been welcoming to women and men of all ages and backgrounds. The only criterion is an interest in our common history.

Rev. John Berntsen does yeoman work getting out publicity to news outlets of all shapes and sizes, but we are capable of more and that is where you, our membership can help. Take our informational tri-folds that contain everything potential folks need to know to come to a meeting and help distribute them far and wide. Stores, libraries, doctors’ offices; leave them anywhere that won’t get you arrested! Almost all Round Tables have experienced a decline in membership over the past 20 years. Those who not only wish to prosper, but to survive must do everything possible to ensure that our study of American History does not fade away. Here ends the Sermon of the Day ....with apologies to Rev. Berntsen and Rev. Landis......

We have a number of items that have been donated over time that do not quite meet our book raffle guide lines so some will be available at very reasonable prices at the Sign In table.

Our October 20 Field Trip to Antietam with Dennis Frye as our guide is fast approaching. Have you signed up??

Our Round Table Board of Directors meets quarterly at the Southern Lehigh Public Library. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, October 23rd at 6:30 PM. All members are welcome! New membership and fresh leadership are critical to our future.

Dues are due! Sooner is better than later. Send your $25.00 check (It’s ok to send more if you’re so inclined!) to our PO Box 333, Allentown, PA 18105. See Paymaster Jeff Gates.

Ed Root