Wister, A Gentle Yet
At eighteen years of age, LanghorneWister traveled from Philadelphia to make his home in
the Duncannon area. He was a stately young man who came to make his livelihood in the iron
company which his family owned and operated. He became an
important figure in recruiting for Governor Curtin's Army.
The Wister family, distinguished from a collateral branch, the Wistars, by a single vowel, is also Philadelphian by a residence of 170 years. Both families descended from one Hans Casper
Wuester, who was a huntsman in the service of Prince Palatinate near Heidelberg, Germany. Born February 3, 1696, Casper was the first to emigrate to America. He landed here on September 16, 1717, and upon taking an oath of allegiance to King George, anglicized his name to Wistar. In
1766, Casper sent for his brother Johannas or John, who in confirming his name, changed it to Wister. Langhorne Wister was born at Belfield, near Germantown, Pennsylvania, on September 20, 1834. His parents William and Sarah Logan Wister had eight children: William Jr., John, Langhorne, Francis, Jonas, Rodman, and two that died at birth. His father, a well-respected man, was president of the Duncannon Iron Company and treasurer of the North Pennsylvania Railroad. Langhorne was educated at the Germantown Academy, and in 1852, after completing his studies, entered the employ of the Duncannon Iron Company as a time clerk. Later, he became chief clerk. He established his home at the corner of Route 274 and Main Street, where the Duncannon American Legion stands today.
At the outbreak of the sectional war, Wister recruited a hundred men to form a company from the Duncannon area on June 4, 1861. He accepted the Captaincy of this company, which eventually became Company B of the 42nd Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the original Bucktails.
Wister took an active part in the early campaigns of the regiment and was wounded in the ankle by the explosion of a shell at Gaines Mill on June 27, 1862, but remained on the field. Shortly after the close of the Peninsular Campaign, he, along with Major Roy C. Stone, was sent back to Pennsylvania to recruit a new Bucktail unit. Owing to the scarcity of time, after two regiments had been recruited, Wister was promoted to Colonel to command one of the new regiments, the 150th, on September 5, 1862, and Roy C. Stone was elected Colonel of the other, the 149th. The 150th took only a slight part in the Chancellorsville campaign, but along with the other regiment in its brigade, fought bravely and desperately at Gettysburg. After Colonel Stone was wounded on July 1, 1863, Colonel Wister assumed command of the brigade. Later in the day, he himself was shot in the mouth. Although compelled to retire his command, he remained on the field where his presence did much to animate the troops. Despite his wound, Wister led a bayonet charge. After a short leave of absence because of his injury, he returned and resumed command of the brigade, but resigned on February 22, 1864, never fully recovering from his wound at Gettysburg.
After resigning, Wister returned to Duncannon. On March 13, 1865, Wister was brevetted Brigadier-General, United States Volunteers, "for distinguished gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; also, for gallant conduct at the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Virginia, and for meritorious service during the war."
In June of 1865, Wister was the agent for the sale of the Montebello lands in Wheatfield Township for Morgan, Fisher and Company. In 1874, Wister was the Republican candidate for Congress. However, he was defeated by William Stenger. In January of 1879, Wister brought the first Guernsey heifers to Perry County from the Island of Guernsey, off the coast of Great Britain. Also in that year he became a senior member of L and R Wister and Company, Iron Commissioner Merchants of Harrisburg. Langhorne Wister owned a farm in Cove Allen and the King's Mill property in Penn Township. In October of 1890, Wister gave a grand reception and supper for the old veteran Bucktails at the National Hotel in Duncannon. One of the results of that reception was the first annual reunion of Company B Bucktails planned for the following year. The National Hotel was located where the Hotel Doyle now stands.
After being ill for two years, Langhorne Wister died of meningitis on Thursday, March 19, 1891, in the home in which he was born just months before the first annual reunion took place. He left personal property valued at $5,000, and real estate worth $29,000. He bequeathed $1,000 to the Germantown Hospital. He is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.