Life was hard in the anthracite coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania following the Panic of 1837. Layoffs, wage cuts, and persistently high unemployment afflicted the nation, dooming President van Buren’s re-election campaign. John Updegrove, a laborer from Berks County, Pennsylvania and his wife, Elizabeth Reisch, were struggling to keep their growing family fed. The couple had been married for fourteen years when they welcomed their fifth child, Daniel, on June 28, 1839.

The Updegroves have a deep German history with one English line, the Benfields of London, and the Reisch line was of German stock. Daniel’s siblings Jacob, Catherine, John, and Nancy were excited, but his parents’ joy was tempered with worry. By that time, eldest Jacob was old enough to be allowed to work. Though still a child, this would only be a help if there were work to be had. Two more children, Solomon and Rebecca, would come along in the middle of the next decade.

The Updegrove children were afforded basic education, but like most children of the day they also went to work at a young age. As a young man, Daniel became a blacksmith’s apprentice, but within a few years he started working as a coal miner. In the 1860s, the coal country of Pennsylvania was in full production, continuously expanding the mines and fueling the Union’s war effort. There are sixteen couples in this generation, ten of which were fully literate, including the Thompson, Goodmans, Hensels, Batdorfs, Werts, McClouds, Oberlanders, Gauglers, Keefers and Livezlys. The Andersons and the Laymans of this generation, were slightly literate, where one adult was literate, and one was not. Two families, the Peters and Rows, were illiterate. Both Daniel and Sarah had only a few years of schooling, having been pulled away from school to work in their youth. The 1870 census shows they were able to read but not able to write.

During the early days of the war, Daniel met and soon married Salome Ann Culp, a girl five years his junior, born on the final day of June 1844, in Union County, Pennsylvania. Her parents, Jacob Culp and Elizabeth Schneck, had one son and five daughters. Salome, commonly called Sarah, and her siblings lost their mother in 1861, while Daniel and Salome were courting, and their father when she was twenty.

Sarah was born in a remote area on Union (soon to be Snyder) County. At her birth there were fewer than 11,000 county wide inhabitants and, to put into context, the Mexican-American War was commencing. Culp is an anglicized version of Kolb. The Culps and Schnecks were from Northumberland County—current day Union County—Pennsylvania and were of Germanic descent…… (see ‘The Chronies’ for entire narrative)

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