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Solomon Comp
(1834-1917)

 

Trinity United Church of Christ

Courtesy Rob and Debi Felten

Solomon Comp was born on St. Patrick's Day 1834 in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA, the son of Jacob and Elizabeth "Betsy" (Sturtz) Comp. He was one of many in the family to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.

He grew up knowing and playing with a neighbor boys Jonathan Hyde, John C. Pfeiffer and David Smith who all later came to his aide when attempting to obtain a military pension. As an adult, he stood 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with a dark complexion, dark hair and blue eyes. He was considered by friends as a "sober, peaceable man of good habits."

Solomon resided as a young man in Dry Ridge, Bedford County, PA. On Oct. 29, 1857 (or Oct. 23, 1858), he was united in holy wedlock with Rachel Beltz (1834-1863), also a Bedford resident. Justice of the peace G.W. Horn officiated, and news of the wedding was published in the Bedford Gazette. Prior to marriage, Rachel had been employed by the father of Cornelius Diehl in Bedford County.

They produced three offspring -- Mary Catherine Riley, Jacob Adam Comp and John Wesley Comp.

The Comps are shown on the 1860 federal census, making their home in or near Schellsburg, Bedford County.

Sadly, Rachel passed away in May (or June 10), 1863, in Buffalo Mills, possibly in childbirth with their son John Wesley.

During the war, Solomon registered for the Union Army draft and was marked as married. On Sept. 21, 1864, now drafted, he joined the army as a member of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G and was sent to Chambersburg, PA for basic training.

Within the week of entering the army, he married a second time -- on Oct. 23, 1864, at the home of her father -- to Margaret Ann Corley (Jan. 19, 1850-1933), daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Hurst) Corley of Dry Ridge, Juniata Township. Rev. N.H. Skyles officiated. Among those attending was Solomon's brother, Adam Andrew Comp, who shortly thereafter also joined the army. News of the wedding was printed in the Bedford Gazette.

Margaret was neither able to read or write. She once said that she and Solomon "was both raised close to gether, have tended the same church and have bin acquainted ever since we was small."

They went on to bear these additional 10 offspring -- Emma S. Robb, Sarah Elizabeth Reams, Elmira Cecilia Sleek, Joseph C. Comp, Gertrude Comp, Clara B. Comp, twins Humphrey Albert Comp and Harry L. Comp, Susanna M. Hochard and Elsie J. Sorber. As the babies were born, their names were written on a sheet of paper placed among the page of the family Bible.

 

Final bombardment of Petersburg before its surrender, April 1865

 

Solomon served in the army until the close of the war. In March 1865, he and his regiment were at the front after the surrender of Petersburg and helped pursue Confederate troops fleeing toward Farmville. Around that time, he began to suffer from hemorrhoids. Fellow soldier and messmate Isaac Right reclled that:

We changed our camps very often after being sent to the front, and during a spell of very bad weather when it was sleeting and raining we were without quarters, had nothing but blankets. Afterward we began to build quarters with weather still rough. We had been working about a day when Solomon Comp took sick, he had an attack of diarrhea which I remembers the soldiers called chronic diarrhea. In a short time he was unfit for duty and was excused by the doctor but he refused to go to a hospital although the Captain wanted him to go. He was in such condition that he could do nothing. I remember this from the fact that I asked him to write a letter for me and he said he was unable to do so as he was so sick he could not write for himself.

Having become debilitated, Solomon is known to have visited brother-in-law Adam Diehl in his tent, complaining of loose bowels. While in Alexandria, VA, he was honorably discharged on June 7, 1865.

He returned home after the Confederate surrender, arriving on June 15, 1865, the day his daughter Emma was born. He tried to return to a life of farming. Neighbor Jonathan Hyde observed that he "appeared to be much reduced in flesh and vigor and was unable to endure labor of any kind without injury to himself." Neighbor David Smith saw him in church within a few weeks and also noted Solomon's suffering.

 

Solomon's letter to the U.S. Pension Commissioner, 1913. National Archives.

His hemorrhoids and rheumatism caused quite a bit of discomfort, limiting his ability to work and earn a living. As time went on, he received medical care from Dr. A.B. Isell and others.

The federal census of 1870 shows this second family together in Juniata Township.

In mid-April 1876, he was awarded a pension as compensation for his wartime injuries. [Invalid App. #217.400 - Cert. #560.669] Married sisters Matilda Beltz and Elizabeth Hufford signed affidavits of support, showing that he had been a "sound man" prior to the war. He began receiving checks from the government, which in 1915 totaled $22.50 each month. For reasons not yet known, he gave custody of his pension paperwork to L.C. Meek of New Buena Vista.

Solomon and neighbor Josiah Huffman lived four miles apart during the years 1882-1883 and then only half a mile apart from 1883 toApril 1890 and then four-and-a-half miles apart from 1890 to 1891. Huffman hired Solomon to assist with farm chores during those years, although the soldier could only put in only several hours of labor at a time. In 1882 he worked pealing bark and clearing land. In 1890, he helped Huffman to harvest crops on a total of 19½ days. "He could not earn a days work," Huffman said, "and I told him so." Solomon also worked for neighbor Franklin P. Elder at times and turned to basket-making to earn income.

On one particular day, a traveling salesman came to Solomon's door, peddling medicinal cures for hemorrhoids. Solomon wanted badly to buy the supposed cure but was out of money at the time.

Solomon's vision declined as he got older. In 1898, he noticed that his right eye watered frequently. Then in the fall of 1899, he wrote that he went hunting and saw a pheasant and took aim, only to realize that the right eye could not focus on the target. In about 1898, when the Comps hosted a butchering, brother-in-law Adam Diehl asked Solomon to shoot the hog, and he declined, saying he could not see well enough.

Solomon is known to have had possession of his mother's family Bible circa 1913. At around that time, they lived in Mann's Choice, Bedford County.

The Angel of Death carried away Solomon on Feb. 6, 1917, at the age of 82, due to a series of cerebral hemorrhages and "general weakness." Burial was in Trinity/Dry Ridge Cemetery -- otherwise known as New Buena Vista -- with daughter Elsie Sorber signing the official Pennsylvania certificate of death. Today the burying ground is known as Trinity United Church of Christ Cemetery. There is one major discrepancy on the death certificate, with his parents listed as "Jno Comp" and "Louisa Sprout" instead of "Jacob Comp" and "Elizabeth Sturtz." Yet in all other references of his parents and siblings, everything fits. [Find-a-Grave]

Now widowed, Margaret began receiving her husband's monthly pension payments. [Widow App. #1.106.247 - Cert. #859.853] She lived for another 16 years after her spouse's death and made her home in 1921 in Napier, PA. Suffering from pneumonia and influenza, she died two days after her 83rd birthday on Jan. 21, 1933. Burial was at Dry Ridge. Jane Husband of Claysburg, PA was the informant for the death certificate.

 

~ Daughter Mary Catherine (Comp) Riley ~

Daughter Mary Catherine Comp (1859- ? ) was born on Jan. 9, 1859.

She wedded (?) Riley ( ? - ? ) and is believed to have been alive circa 1915.

 

~ Son Jacob Adam Comp ~

Son Jacob Adam Comp (1859- ? ) was born in about 1859 in Harrison Township, Bedford County.

He was but a boy when his mother died in 1863.

His fate is not yet known, but he was deceased by 1915.

 

~ Son John Wesley Comp ~

Son John Wesley Comp (1863- ? ) was born on July 22, 1863.

He was deceased by 1915.

 

Trinity United Church of Christ

Courtesy Rob and Debi Felten

~ Daughter Emma S. (Comp) Robb ~

Daughter Emma S. Comp (1865-1940) was born on about June 15 (or Sept. 6), 1865 in Buffalo Mills, Juniata Township, Bedford County, on the day or shortly after her father returned home from the Union Army.

She married Edward G. Robb (Oct. 4, 1866-1939), the son of John and Mary Robb of Juniata Township.

They resided in New Buena Vista, Harrison Township, Bedford County, where he labored over the years as a stone mason.

The couple produced a family of these offspring -- Ray Robb, Carl R. Robb, William Robb, Grace Marie Shroyer, Daisy Wilhelm and Florence Hillegass.

Sadly, suffering from coronary heart disease ("angina pectoris"), Edward passed into eternity at the age of 72 on April 1, 1939. Burial was in Trinity United Church of Christ Cemetery in Dry Ridge.

Emma lived for just another year as a widow. Stricken for several years with cirrhosis of the liver, she contracted influenza and bronchial pneumonia in February 1940 and succumbed the following month, at the age of 74, on March 2, 1940.

Son Ray Robb ( ? - ? ) lived in Dry Ridge in 1940 and later in Johnstown, Cambria County, PA.

Son Carl R. Robb (1897-1971) was born on Aug. 7, 1897 in Bedford County. He was united in wedlock with Frieda W. Beckman (Aug. 24, 1898-1963), a native of Johnstown, Cambria County, PA and the daughter of Adam and Augusta (Meske) Beckman. They established a home in Central City, PA and bore one son, Blair Bernard Robb (1923-2006). At the age of 64, on June 21, 1963, Frieda died in Johnstown. Carl survived her by eight years. He passed three days after Christmas 1971. They lie in repose in Johnstown's Grandview Cemetery.

Son William Robb ( ? - ? ) made a home in Central City, PA.

Daughter Grace Marie Robb (1909-1969) was born in 1909. On Sept. 20, 1945, she wedded Nathaniel Shroyer (March 4, 1900), son of Adam and Lavina (Clites) Shroyer of Comps Crossroads, Somerset County. They dwelled in Hyndman, Bedford County and belonged to Comps Church. He had been married and divorced previously and brought these offspring to the second union -- Marshall Earl Shroyer, Sara Loretta (Shroyer) Shroyer, Shirley I. Chaney, June Lyvone Folk and Johnny Edward Shroyer. The couple may have produced a son of their own, Ray D. Shroyer. Nathaniel belonged to the Eagles in Cumberland, MD. On Sept. 14, 1952, after just seven years of marriage, Nathaniel suffered a heart attack and died at home. Burial was in Comp Cemetery, with the funeral sermon preached by Rev. Charles Raley. Grace earned a living over the years by working at Jet Cleaners in Cumberland. Her home in her final years was in Ellerslie, Allegany County, MD, where she succumbed at the age of 59 on Jan. 11, 1969. Her remains were buried in Comp Cemetery in Comps Crossroads, Somerset County, with Rev. Henry A Border officiating.

Daughter Daisy Robb ( ? - ? ) married (?) Wilhelm ( ? - ? ). Her home in 1969 was in Hyndman, Bedford County.

Daughter Florence Robb ( ? - ? ) wedded (?) Hillegass ( ? - ? ). Circa 1969, she resided in Johnstown.

 

~ Daughter Sarah Elizabeth (Comp) Reams ~

Daughter Sarah Elizabeth Comp (1867-1944) was born on Jan. 9, 1867 in Buffalo Mills, Bedford County.

She married Andrew "Jackson" Reams (May 26, 1866-1950), son of Alexander M. and Sarah (Hoyman) Reams of Harrison Township, Knox County. In about 1914, they relocated to a new home in or around Monroe Hills, Knox County, OH.

Sarah Elizabeth and Jackson produced these known children -- Fern L. Reams, Clarence Thurston Reams, Grace Marie Reams, Hazel Catherine Reams and Mary E. Reams.

Sadly, suffering from hypertension, the 77-year-old Sarah Elizabeth was felled by a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away eight days before Christmas in 1944.

Jackson survived his wife by six years. During that time, he lived on Coshocton Road in Mount Vernon. As his health plummeted from a cerebral hemorrhage, he was admitted to the Mount Vernon Rest Home, where he died on Nov. 18, 1950. They rest for all time in Mound View Cemetery in Mount Vernon, Knox County.

Daughter Fern L. Reams ( ? - ? )

Son Clarence Thurston Reams (1890-1963) was born in 1890. He was the informant for his father's death certificate in 1950.

Daughter Grace Marie Reams ( ? - ? )

Daughter Hazel Catherine Reams ( ? - ? ) was born on Nov. 20, 1900 in Harrison Township, Knox County. She wedded Bunn McMillan ( ? - ? ) and resided in Morris Township, Knox County. Struggling with an infection of peritonitis, she only lasted for five days and died at the age of 30 on March 23, 1931. Burial was in Mound View Cemetery.

Daughter Mary E. Reams ( ? - ? ).

 

Trinity United Church of Christ

Courtesy Rob and Debi Felten

~ Daughter Elmira Cecelia (Comp) Sleek ~

Daughter Elmira Cecelia Comp (1867-1908) was born on Sept. 5 or 13, 1868.

In about 1894, when she was age 27 and he 30, she was united in holy matrimony with Jacob E. Sleek (1864-1953), son of Jacob A. and Mary Ann (Dobson) Sleek of Bedford County.

They made a home in New Buena Vista, Napier Township, Bedford County and were the parents of Luna May Sleek, Margaret V. Sleek, Homer R. Sleek, Patrick Raymond Sleek and three other unnamed infants who died circa 1903, 1906 and 1907.

Sadly, after giving birth to a baby on Jan. 14, 1908, the infant passed away just four days later, and the agony was compounded when the 39-year-old mother suffered from unstoppable bleeding caused by "adherent placenta" -- tissue from the placenta attaching to the uterus. On Jan. 29 1908, she "died after terrible suffering," reported the Bedford Gazette. Said the Gazette, "The funerals of mother and child were preached at the same time when a large number of friends and relatives gathered to pay the last respects to her memory. The husband and father, and four little children are left to realize and mourn their loss. The mother died expressing her highest hope of meeting those who have gone before her in the same way of death." Elmira and her baby were buried side by side in Dry Ridge Cemetery, sometimes known as the "Reformed Cemetery" but today known as Trinity United Church of Christ Cemetery in Juniata Township. Rev. Warlick officiated.

Jacob outlived his bride by 46 years. In 1910, he headed his household with four children and earned a living as a laborer of odd jobs. When the federal census enumeration was made in 1920, with only his sons in the residence, he was a farmer in Napier Township.

He continued in his farming occupation as of 1930, living alone that year, and also generated income as a timberman in the lumber industry.

During the last five years of his life, burdened with senility and heart disease, Jacob dwelled in an "old folks home" in Windber, Somerset County, PA. He died at the home on Nov. 3, 1953, just a few weeks before his 89th birthday.

Daughter Luna May Sleek (1895-1926) was born in about 1895. She appears not to have married and spent her short life in Bedford County. In 1926, at about the age of 31, she died. Burial was beside her mother in Trinity United Church of Christ Cemetery in Juniata Township.

Daughter Margaret V. Sleek (1898- ? ) was born in about 1898 in Bedford County.

Son Homer R. Sleek (1901- ? ) was born in about 1901 in Bedford County. He earned income as a coal mine laborer in 1920.

Son Patrick Raymond Sleek (1904- ? ) was born in about 1904 in Bedford County. He grew up laboring on local farms.

 

~ Son Joseph C. Comp ~

Son Joseph C. Comp (1870- ? ) was born on Dec. 20, 1870.

He was deceased by 1915.

 

~ Daughter Gertrude Comp ~

Daughter Gertrude Comp (1873- ? ) was born on April 21, 1873.

She was deceased by 1915.

 

~ Daughter Clara Comp ~

Daughter Clara Comp (1875- ? ) was born on Sept. 14, 1875.

She was deceased by 1915.

 

~ Son Humphrey Albert Comp ~

Son Humphrey Albert Comp (1878-1960) was born on April 20, 1878 in Bedford County, PA, a twin with his brother Harry.

Humphrey was joined in matrimony with Sarah E. "Sadie" Hutzel ( ? - ? ).

Whether they produced children is not yet known.

The couple separated, and Sadie filed for divorce in May 1912, with the news published in the Meyersdale Republican.

Humphrey made a home in Stoystown in Shade Township, Somerset County and worked over the years as a laborer.

Burdened with hardening of the arteries, he suffered cerebral bleeding and died at the age of 82 on Oct. 24, 1960. Mrs. Orie Berkebile of Stoystown was the informant for the official death certificate. He rests for all time in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Manns Choice, Bedford County.

 

~ Son Harry L. Comp ~

Son Harry L. Comp (1878-1959) was born on April 20, 1878 in in Bedford County, PA, a twin with his brother Humphrey.

He married Mary Ellen Miller ( ? - ? ), daughter of Grant Miller of Napier, Bedford County. They lived in Wolfsburg, Bedford County, where Harry supported the family through his work as a carpenter and laborer.

At the age of 80, stricken with cancer of the rectum which led to a bowel obstruction, Harry died on April 8, 1959. Interment was in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Manns Choice. Edward Comp of Bedford signed the death certificate.

 

~ Daughter Susanna M. (Comp) Hochard ~

Daughter Susanna M. Comp (1881-1970) was born on April 13, 1881.

At the age of 18 or 19 in about 1900, she married James H. Hochard (Oct. 7, 1879-1962), son of Jonathan and Margaret (Boylan) Hochard. News of their marriage license was printed in the Bedford Gazette.

They made a home in or near Altoona, Blair County, PA.

Sadly, James died at age 83 on Nov. 26, 1962.

Susanna outlived him by eight years. At the age of 89, on Sept. 7, 1970, Susanna died. Interment was side-by-side in Alto Reste Burial Park in Altoona.

 

Buckstown Cemetery - Courtesy Brian J. Ensley

~ Daughter Elsie J. (Comp) Sorber ~

Daughter Elsie J. Comp (1885-1967) was born on March 6, 1885.

She married Irvin M. Sorber (1888-1917).

They produced one known daughter, Irene Custer.

Tragedy befell this family in 1917 when, at age 28 or 29, Irvin died of causes not yet known. Burial was in Buckstown Cemetery in the county.

Elsie managed to survive her husband by half a century. In 1933, her home was in Cental City, PA. Then in the 1960s, she dwelled in Kent, Portage County, OH. She died in Kent at the age of 82 on Dec. 16, 1967. Her remains were shipped back to Somerset County to rest for all time with her husband.

Daughter  Irene Sorber (1902-1989) was born on July 18, 1902 in Bedford County. She wedded Andrew Martin Custer (March 3, 1898-1983), a native of Shade Township, Somerset County and the son of Wilson Erwin and Annie Nero (Lohr) Custer. They made a home in Shanksville, Somerset County circa 1911. Their children were Betty R. Custer and a stillborn baby boy in 1911. Heartache blanketed the family when daughter Betty died in Baltimore, MD on March 30, 1943. Her remains were brought back to Pennsylvania to rest in Johnstown's Grandview Cemetery. They spent their final years in Windber, Somerset County. He passed away at age 84 on Jan. 23, 1983, and she at the age of 87 on Aug. 22, 1989. They are in repose together in Grandview Cemetery.

 

Copyright 2000, 2011, 2015-2019 Mark A. Miner