Jan 7



The Crass-Barbehenn House is located at 218 North Stratton Street, on the west side of the street. It was built circa 1861, and has an artillery shell stuck in its north wall. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.

Another structure on North Stratton Street has an artillery shell stuck in its wall. This house is the Crass-Barbehenn House, located across the street from the John Kuhn House (221 North Stratton Street), which also has an artillery shell stuck in one of its exterior walls.

As we do with many local history questions, we went back to look up an article by Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Tim Smith that he wrote for the Adams County Historical Society in 1996. Tim is also a research assistant at the historical society, and his article in that year’s bulletin, “A Tour of Gettysburg’s Visual Battle Damage” presents a good overview of the buildings we will feature over the next couple of weeks. We highly recommend that you pick up a copy at the Adams County Historical Society on Seminary Ridge in Schmucker Hall, or order a copy ($6.95) from the Adams County Historical Society. Click this link for their online giftshop.



This map shows the buildings with visible battle damage that we will be featuring over the next couple of weeks. We have marked the locations with red stars. #1 is the McClean House at 11 Baltimore Street. #2 is the Wills Building at 9 York Street. #3 is the John Kuhn House at 221 North Stratton Street. #4 is the Crass Barbehenn House at 218 North Stratton Street. This map was created at approximately 5:00 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2009.



Records about the individuals who lived in this structure in 1863 are sketchy, but it appears that the house was a duplex, and that two different families did live here at the time of the battle. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



A German immigrant named George Crass (1832-) or George Krass built the house in 1861. His family consisted of himself, his wife, Catherine Crass (1832-), and their daughters Margaret Crass (1848-), Elizabeth Crass (1857-), and Joanna Crass (1860-). This view was taken facing west at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



It appears that by 1864 the title of the house was transferred to Henry Peter Barbehenn (1826-1913), who was born in Richterhausen, Nassau, Germany, and had immigrated to America in 1857. It appears that he lived in this house the year before he took title to it. His family consisted of himself, and his wife Mary Ann Bortner (1832-1911) whom he had married in 1862. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



The artillery shell stuck in the north wall is a 3-inch Reed Shell, which was similar to a Parrott Shell. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



Family descendents of the Barbehenns reported in the 1960s that multiple artillery shells entered the house on July 1, 1863. “Two ladies had their babies in the upper room where the shells came through, and had removed the infants approximately ten minutes before the shells came through. There are two shell holes in the hallway wall upstairs where the shells came through. One shell lodged and remained in the outside wall, height of the second floor, and still remains there.” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



There are also some pockmarks in the wall on the north side which appear to be from bullets. One of the pockmarks is to the right of the wire hanging out of the second story window on the left. These may have been fired by Confederates at Union soldiers fighting in and later retreating from this area of the John Kuhn Brickyard. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



The accounts from the descendents of the Barbehenss indicate that all the artillery shells that entered the house exploded. In 1971 the Civil War Round Table House Marking Committee was responsible for providing evidence of the age of houses. Their job was to place the familiar “Civil War Building 1863″ plaques on the walls stating that structures were here at the time of the battle. An individual from that committee reported that the mortar around the shell showed evidence of being repaired. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



So either the shell is an original shell that was removed in order to be defused, and then later replaced, or it is a completely different shell stuck in the wall in order to signify the area where other shells had entered the house during the battle. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



If this is an actual shell fired during the battle, did it come from units such as Thomas Carter’s Artillery Battalion on Oak Hill near the Peace Light, or from Confederate cannon belonging to H.P. Jones Artillery Battalion that were stationed where Jones Artillery Avenue is located today? This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



We believe that the angle of the shell shows that it was probably fired from Oak Hill. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:45 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.

See the following related posts:

Gettysburg’s John Kuhn House Artillery Shell on January 6, 2009.
Wills Building Artillery Shell Might be the Actual Shell on January 2, 2009.
Gettysburg’s McClean House Artillery Shell on December 27, 2008.
Christmas Decorations on the Carrie Sheads House on December 25, 2008.
Sweney House (Farnsworth House) Christmas Decorations on December 24, 2008.
Christmas Decorations at the Gettysburg Academy on December 21, 2008.
Civil War Artillery with Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton on November 21, 2008.


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