Pennsylvania Grand Review

Honoring African American Patriots 1865 / 2010

Charles H. Parker, 3rd Regiment U.S.C.T.

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Parker's grave marker at Gettysburg’s National Cemetery

(Essay written by Debra McCauslin — For the Cause Productions, Gettysburg, PA)

Charles H. Parker died in 1876 and was buried at Yellow Hill Cemetery near Biglerville in Adams County. Parker was born in Virginia and enlisted at age 18 at Chambersburg, PA. Parker served as a substitute for Washington Stover of Liberty Township, Adams County. Parker trained at Camp William Penn in Philadelphia and was mustered out October 31, 1865 at Jacksonville, Florida. Parker was 5 foot 11 inches tall and had been shot in the right leg while in service. He also contracted typhoid and pneumonia and became sickly within months of serving. After the war, he was feeble and complained of his bad health. He told neighbors he was weak and he coughed very much.

Charles Parker married Sarah Butler, daughter of Peter and Harriet Butler of Adams County, Menallen Township on November 7, 1867. The Parker’s lived in Flora Dale with a Garretson family in their tenant house in 1868. Charles and Sarah had several children: Mary Jane, born October 19, 1868; William, born May 22, 1871: Harriet born December 31, 1874 (she died at a young age); Elmer, born February 26, 1877,

His wife was seeking a pension for his service and Sarah Parker testified in 1895 that she and her children were living in York’s Gas Alley and they were “very poor and nearly starving to death.”

Parker’s remains were reinterred at the National Cemetery in Gettysburg in 1936 and no service was held at that time to honor him as it was determined that one was probably held when buried at Yellow Hill.

Yellow Hill was formerly known as Pine Hill. It is believed that the name, “Yellow” was given to the hill to reflect the skin tones of this early Negro family who were listed in the census with an “M” for mulatto. Yellow is a derogatory term used to define people of mixed races.

The first burial place of Charles Parker at Yellow Hill Church Lot and Cemetery is listed on the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. This site can be visited yet today as it is also a stop on the Underground Railroad Tour of Adams County conducted by Debra McCauslin of Gettysburg.

In 1997, bone fragments were placed in a grave at the National Cemetery as they had been found by a tourist on the Gettysburg battlefield. A huge ceremony was held with over 4,000 in attendance including the widows of both a Confederate and a Union veteran. From that trooper’s remains they could not determine if he fought for the Union or the Confederacy. Confederate soldiers are not usually allowed for burial at the National Cemetery but an exception was made at that time for that situation.

Posted in Individual Stories Friday, May 21st, 2010 at 2:39 pm.

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