Andrew Gregg Curtin, Pennsylvania 1861-1867
Keystone Gazette October 12 1894, page 1,4
THE WAR GOVERNOR RESTS IN PEACE
The Summons of Death Came Sunday Morning at 5:00 O'clock
BELLEFONTE IN MOURNING
The Highly Honored Citizen of Pennsylvania Laid in the Tomb Amid the Booming Cannon and the Rattle of Musketry - Governor Pattison, Genl. Greenland. Col Burchfield, Hon. A. K. McClure, and Many Other Prominent Men Attended the Large Funeral Wednesday.
ELOQUENT WORDS OF HIS DEEDS
"This has been a week of mourning, not only for Bellefonte but for the State and Nation as well, because of the death of one of its greatest men, Andrew Gregg Curtin, the "War Governor" of. Pennsylvania, whose spirit winged its flight to its eternal home on Sunday morning just as the morning sun announced the coming of a beautiful autumnal day. For several months Governor Curtin had been in feeble, health, but his condition was not such as to cause any serious apprehension until the last week or two when his family began to notice that a change for the worse was taking place. When this sad intelligence reached the ears of the people of this community there was profound sorrow in every home. The spark of life began to grow more indistinct and on last Sabbath morning at 5 o'clock be peacefully passed away. His transmission into the great beyond was without a struggle. In every storm of life he was a rock and oak. In death he met the great enemy without a tremor.
Around the dying bedside of the distinguished citizen and statesman were only those of the immediate family which included his wife, Katharine Wilson Curtin, and the following children: Mary W., wife of Dr. George P. Harris; Mary, widow of Capt D. R. Breese; William W. Curtin, of Philadelphia, and Kate W., wife of M. D. Burnet, of Syracuse, N. Y. Dr. Harris, his son-in-law and attendant physician, was also present. All the members of the family are living but one, a daughter, Jennie, who married William H. Sage, of Ithaca, N. Y. She died last November.
Death, to a certain extent, was due to old age, as he was 79 years old on the 22nd of last April. His final illness dates back to the 27th of February when he fell on the ice and was so severely injured that he was confined to the house for over one month. During that time, many of his friends from all over the State came and called on him. He recovered sufficiently to again be a prominent figure on our streets where he was always met with a friendly greeting by hosts of personal admirers. Shortly after he was able to be about again he was attacked with stomache trouble which helped to hasten his death. On Sunday of last week he felt much improved and for a short time sat out on the front porch enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. On Monday he was also out. The alarm of fire at the steam laundry that evening brought him on the porch where for a short time be stood in the cool air with uncovered head, at the same time looking exceedingly pale, and frail in body as he returned to the room at the earnest solicitations of his daughter. Monday night he was overcome by a nervous chill and Tuesday morning upon the advice of his son-in-law Dr. G. F. Harris, he remained in bed from which he never arose. Thursday his condition became critical and a consultation was held by Drs. Harris, Fairlamb and Dobbins. On Friday he rallied somewhat but on Saturday he grew worse and in the afternoon sank into an unconscious sleep which continned until Sunday morning at 5 o'clock, when the flickering flame of life became extinct and the great "war Governor" was at rest.
Governor Curtin's last appearance in public was at the reception given General Hastings by the people of Bellefonte upon his return from the State Convention after being nominated for Governor, on Thursday evening, May 25, 1894. The Governor was a great admirer of General Hastings, and, notwithstanding his enfeebled condition he volunteered a short address in behalf of his friend. It was his last. He felt it and said it. His voice was so weak that he could be heard only a few feet away but, catching the inspiration of the moment he grew eloquent in whispers, and his closing remarks, which were his last public utterances, were taken ver batem for the Gazette and were as follows:
I wish you good night. If I had as good a voice as I had forty years ago I would keep you here all night. I would raise a calamity amongst you. I would roar like a lion; I would growl like a tiger. The time is past; age says I must give up. Anyhow I say to you, you should all perform your duties to your party, to your neighbors.
Stand by your country be good citizens, now and forever, and God bless you."
The announcement of the death brought many messages of sympathy to the bereaved family from a wide circle of distinguished friends, prominent among whom were Col. McClure of the Philadelphia Times, Gov. Flower, of New York, Gen. D. H. Hastings and wife, Congressman Robinson, of Media, James Kerr of Washington, Mayor Stewart of Philadelphia and others.
The citizens of Bellefonte, fully appreciating their irreparable loss at once set to work to drape the town and on Tuesday evening the homes and business houses bore all signs of deep mourning. Long streamers of somber black floated from every home and business block. It was a glowing tribute to the descryed dead. Many had received personal aid from him in time of distress for Governor Curtin gave often and with a liberal band.
Wednesday morning issued in a rainy day, which continued till almost noon when the clouds began to break, the sun came forth in all his splendor, and the clear sky was typical of the memory of the illustrious dead.
The arrangements far the funeral were under the supervision of General James A. Beaver, now Pennsylvania's only surviving ex-Governor. The many trains brought in great loads of living freight, and by noon the diamond was a living field of faces. There were children who had only known Governor Curtin in history, mothers who yielded their sturdy suns to his care and keeping during the dark days of the rebellion. Fathers, whose beards now tinged with gray had responded to his call in '61 for their services to save the nation from dishonor and disgrace. All had come to pay to him their last sad tribute.
At 10 a. m. a public meeting was held in the Court house by the Centre County Bar Association. It was a memorial meeting, a place where those most near and dear to him, bound to him by the tender ties of love, were given an opportunity to speak of his great worth. The room was soon densely crowded it was a distinguished assemblage. Hon. A. O. Furst, president judge, was called to the chair. Hon. Jerome B. Miles, of Tioga county and Hon. Augustus Landis, of Holidaysburg were made Vice Presidents, while W. F. Smith, Prothonotary, and W. C. Rumbarger, Register, served as secretaries.
Col. William B. Mann, of Philadelphia, the boon companion and bosom friend of the deceased, was the first speaker, and his address was a jewel of thought, beautiful in sentiment and full of pathos.
He was followed by Gov. Robert E. Pattison, who spoke of his boy-hood remembrance of him during the stormy days of the rebellion when he was a strong pillar the support of the immortal Lincoln. Senator John Scott, of Philadelphia, followed with a most appropriate tribute to his old friend, after which a call for A. K. McClure brought to the rostrum the orator, editor, and statesman whose long public life had brought him in close relation with the lamented dead, and his eulogy was one of the crowning efforts of his life. We publish it in full. He was followed by Senator William A. Wallace, of Clearfield, Hon. John M. Bailey, of Huntingdon, and General Goben, of Lebanon.
COL. A. K. MC'CLURE'S ADDRSSS
CHAIRMAN AND FRIENDS: I feel that an occasion of this kind cannot be expressed by stated expressions. It is one on which the heart alone should speak; I am not here to pass an eulogy upon A. G. Curtin in his own community, where every man, woman and child have smiled at his presence. I am here to sympathize with you by expressing that which I feel in common with you, after I have for almost a round half century been his friend and he has been mine. In the communications of friendship in Bellefonte and social life it is a story that is well worth cherishing. For half a century almost he has never had a conflict in which I have not been by his side; I have never, in my humble way, had one myself in which he was not always by my side and friend Before I was yet a voter I was a conferee in the congressional conference of this district held at Lewistown and with all the enthusiasm of a boy I voted and struggled to nominate A. G. Curtin for congress, and from that time until the present, with all the voluminous history we have written and all the changes we nave witnessed, there has never been a cloud upon that friendship, there has never been a halt in the devotion of his friendship. He is one man who in departing from us makes me feel as if I were left almost alone and my brief spans will also feel that there is wanting one support, one friend that in all my life I have always felt was certain and always cherished.
If there are those here who sorrow for A. G. Curtin as his friend, let me say that there is not a heart in this audience that sorrows more than mine. Even in the home that is desolate that I have just left, there is not a heart there more crushed than is the heart of him who speaks to you, and the only consolation that I could give to the sorrowing widow was simply this, that he has but a little gone before us. I cannot trust myself. Mr. Chairman, to speak further upon this subject.
What shall I say of Governor Curtin's achievements ? What has he done ? The story of his life is familiar to every school boy of the common wealth and it is cherished by every intelligent citizen. It is worshipped by every soldier and soldier's child in the land and yet the chapter of his efforts and his struggles in the great emergency through which he passed can never be written. That story, Mr. Chairman, can never be told language shall be inadequate to convey to the people of t his great commonwealth the trials through which Governor Curtin passed when the life of the Republic was trembling in the balance. You have in your midst the gallant and armiess soldier; you have also beloved Ex-Governor who goes upon his crutches, w ho lent his aid in the great emergency in defense of this nation. With all their perils and all their responsibilities, they could not know how the governor of this commonwealth was compelled at times, when there seemed to be no sliver lining to the cloud of despair, how he was compelled to struggle and grope his way to maintain the government of the people.
The young men of to day have no conception how terrible were these perils; they read the story of the bravery of our soldiers who fought the battles of the Republic and won them and brought back their banners in triumph, but they know not how, as I have seen, the Executive of this Common wealth charged with responsibilities, such as never were put upon any mortal man before, called upon to assume for a great state and for a great nation a policy and act upon it. No man can tell how great were his duties, how valuable were his services and only men that know, how beneficent were the results. I sat by his side at the out-break of the civil war, when between his capitol and the capitol of the nation no loyal man could find passage. For days and days no train of cars passed or furnished any information from one to the other and the highways we re guarded by those who hated the Republic and sought its overthrow. No counsel could be had from the national government; there was no means of obtaining advise on important action that must be taken and then charged with the responsibility of assuming the more than responsibilities of the nation itself, Governor Curtin raised to the very fullest statutory of manhood and statesman-ship and heroism, called out 25,000 troops to serve three years or during the war.