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“He never wore glasses or used tobacco, but he had a glass of whiskey whenever he felt like it…”

Micajah Weiss at the Gettysburg 50th Reunion, 1913- PA State Archives RG 25.24

When he attended the 50th reunion of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1913, Micajah Weiss was honored as the oldest veteran in attendance. When he died a year later in September 1914 he was the oldest pensioner from the Civil War, but no one seemed to know exactly how old he was. He is reported to have been born some time between 1800 to 1803, but is also listed as having been born in 1810, 1811 and 1818 in various census records. He was born in Delaware Water Gap, PA, at a location listed as ‘Dancing Creek’ or ‘Dancing Rift.’ His grave stone has the dates 1801-1914. What is known is that he made his living as a farmer and a lumberman. He was known as an experienced raftsman, having taken hundreds of rafts down the Delaware River in his during his 55 year career in lumbering.

The first timber raft traveled down the Delaware River in 1764, piloted by Daniel Skinner. The last raft was floated down the Delaware in 1922. As such, Micajah was alive for most of the rafting-era of the Delaware River. It was reported that he would make the 100-mile return trip from Trenton, NJ, where he sold his rafts back to his home in Beaver Brook, NY, located just north of the PA boarder, on foot. He was also know to have made trips to Easton, PA, and on down the river to Philadelphia.

Stereoview Card of a Square Timber Raft on the Delaware River, Late 19th Century (LM77.14.1)

One of his obituaries noted that Micajah had wanted to take one last raft down the Delaware a few years before his death, “just to show the boys that he had not forgotten how”… he was eventually talked out of the idea.

In August 1862, Micajah enlisted in the Union Army with the 141st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company G. Further complicating the mater of his age, he is listed on the Muster Roll as 44 years old, but this might have been a lie so as to not seem “too old” for duty. Whatever his real age, he was well past the age of conscription for the Army. When asked about what battles he was in his reply was “Most all of ’em.” In addition to Gettysburg the 141st was at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and was even present at Appomattox Court House.

Micajah Weiss was honored at the 50th reunion of the Battle of Gettysburg as the oldest veteran present. Newspapers across the country picked up an article about his attendance. He was reported to have had his picture taken with Col. John Clem, who at 61 was the Youngest Veteran present and was at the time still an active duty military officer. Col. John Clem was better known as “Johnny Shiloh”, famous for his exploits as a young drummer boy.

Michajah would make the newspapers again the next year when he passed away on September 22, 1914. The New York Times listed his age as 114. The Orange County Times listed his age as 112. The Gettysburg Star and Sentinel split the difference. They listed his age as 112 in the head line and 114 in the article.

New York Times Sep. 29, 1914