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Pallbearer of President Abraham Lincoln Rests in St. Mary's Cemetery

The following article appeared in the June, 1997 issue of HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS. It was written by Michael Murphy.

William H. Wiseman was born in 1839 in the village of Bluden in the County of Cork, Ireland. He immigrated to the United States in 1848 during Ireland's holocaust. He enlisted in the army on August 12, 1862. The five foot nine inch, blue eyed, dark haried Wiseman served with Company K of the 139th Regiment PA Volunteer Infantry.

He followed the trade of printer, Wiseman suffered greatly from acute dysentery. Eventually, he was redeployed to the Invalid Corps. Late in the war the Invalid Corps was renamed the Veterans Reserve Cops. The unit was comprised of men who had exhibited meritorious service, but who now were unfit for regular duty. Essentially, they performed light service such as paper work.

The Corps was selected to transport President Lincoln's body from our nation's capital through the country back to Springfield, Illinous. Eight states wer represented and 1st Sergeant William H. Wiseman represented the Keystone State.

The United States Congress awarded the escorts the Medal of Honor. Wiseman's Medal of Honor was inscribed as follows:

"The Congress To 1st Sergeant WM. H. Wiseman Co. E. 24th Vet Res Corps of Escort to remains of President Abraham Lincoln April 1865."

After his military service, Wiseman returned to Pittsburgh and worked as a printer for the Pittsburgh Dispatch Newspaper. He lived at 716 Watson St. in the Uptown section of the city. William H. Wiseman died on November 6, 1903, and was buried from Epiphany Church. He had six sons, two daughters and a wife. He is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Lawrenceville, Section N Lot 167-168. An eight foot high monument marks his grave. The inscription reads: "William H. Wiseman 1839-1903 Civil War Vet Three Years."

In June of 1916 a panel of five retired Generals reviewed th criteria under which Medal of Honor Recipients were bestowed their accolades. They decied that Wiseman did not meet the minimum requirements for courage "Above and Beyond the call of duty". William Wiseman was posthumously stripped of his Medal of Honor. Wiseman's Medal of Honor has been donated to Allegheny County's Soldier's and Sailor's Hall. Authorities at the Hall decided not to return the medal. The medal was reported missing in 1983 from the hall and to date has not been found.

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Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)

Born on July 4, 1826, while the country celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence, Stephen Foster has become Lawrenceville’s most famous native son. He was the son of William Barclay Foster, founder of Lawrenceville and Eliza Tomlinson. Foster’s parents moved to Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh’s North Side) when Stephen was very small.

He developed a love for music at a very tender age of about three or four, and from that point forward there was no stopping him. Foster is considered by many to be the world’s foremost composer, and is the only person to have written two state songs – “My Old Kentucky Home” (Kentucky) and “Swannee River” (Florida). A third song “Oh! Susanna” was considered by the state of California as being their state song, but it was rejected.

Today he is considered the founder of “Pop Music” and his works are played throughout the world. There are many books written on Stephen Foster and the University of Pittsburgh maintains the Stephen Foster Memorial Center in his honor. It is located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh close to the Cathedral of Learning.


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