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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JOSEPH SWIFT OSTERSTOCK, an influential citizen of Easton, is a veteran of the Civil War, in which he served long and faithfully. For about twenty years he has been engaged in operating a stove and house-furnishing store and tinsmith shop, his location being one of the oldest business sites in the city, it having been occupied for the same business since 1825. He has built up a large and paying trade, and occupies a four-story brick building, with a frontage of twenty-eight feet, and extending back two hundred and twenty feet. Here may be found his general store and shops. He was elected a member of the first City Council, to represent the First Ward, after the organization of the borough as a city, and in 1887 and 1888 was Chairman of the Fire Department.

The paternal grandfather of our subject was a descendant of one of three brothers who settled in very early days in Forks Township, near Easton, and in that locality he operated a farm of his own. He died at an extreme old age, and his wife lived to be ninety years old. Their children were Polly, Sarah, Margaret, Henry, Jacob and Charles. The latter, our subject’s father, was born in Forks Township, and followed the trade of making mill-stones. He was an adept at this business, and became foreman in the establishment of Joseph Dawes, with whom he remained up to the time of his death, in 1851, at the age of forty-five years. He was a member of the Beneficial Society and of the Sons of Temperance, and was connected with St. John’s Lutheran Church. In his early days he was also a member of a military company commanded by the late Governor Reeder. His wife was in her maidenhood Elizabeth Focht, and died in 1854, when forty-three years of age. She became the mother of five children: Emily, Mrs. Kitchen, and her sister Elizabeth, who are twins; William G., Theodore and Joseph S.

Joseph S. Osterstock was born February 11, 1843, at Easton, and until he was eleven years old went to the public schools. For the next two years he worked in a grocery, and subsequently began learning the tinsmith’s trade. He served an apprenticeship of six years, the last year being passed under the direction of Mr. Chidsey. Before his term had expired he volunteered his services to the Union cause, enlisting August 1, 1862, for nine months. He was placed in Company D, One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry, Army of the Potomac, and participated in the second battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Carneysville, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He was discharged May 18, 1863, but re-enlisted June 22, 1863, and was made First Sergeant of Company D, Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania Emergency Corps. He was soon mustered into the United States service, and in the battle of Gettysburg assisted in keeping General Early from crossing the Susquehanna at Wrightsville. Afterward, with his company, he held back a detachment of Steward’s cavalry, and then returned to Harrisburg, where he was once more dismissed, as his term of service had expired. This was the last day of July, 1863.

March 31, 1865, our subject was mustered in as Second Lieutenant of Company H, Two Hundred and Fourteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, one of the regiments sent out by the Union League of Philadelphia. Proceeding to Winchester and the Shenandoah Valley, he did private duty for a short time, and then, on account of competitive inspection, his regiment was detached from the Eighteenth and placed on duty at Washington, D. C, having charge of all Quartermasters’ stores. Mr. Osterstock was for a part of the time Adjutant, being the youngest officer in the regiment, and as an acknowledgment of his ability and soldierly qualities as an officer, he was detailed to guard all the property at General Grant’s headquarters, and all stores at Kendall Green, near Washington. At other times he assisted in guarding stores at various points, the Smithsonian Institute and the old Capital Prison at Washington, when it contained more than two hundred rebel prisoners and spies. In the latter was confined the celebrated Werz, and during his trial our subject was the officer of the guards of the prison and also was on duty when the man was executed.

On being mustered out of the army, March 21, 1866, Mr. Osterstock resumed his trade of tin-smithing, and for two years worked as a journeyman. In May, 1868, he became Assistant Postmaster to J. L. Mingle. He continued to serve in that position until 1875, when he bought out the old place where he had learned his trade and assumed charge of the business. He has been very successful in this undertaking, and has almost a monopoly in this trade. He is a member of Dallas Lodge No. 396, F. & A. M., and of LaFayette Post No. 217, G. A. R. He is also identified with the Loyal Legion, and formerly was an Odd Fellow, a Knight of Pythias and a Druid. For eighteen years he was one of the Volunteer Fire Department, belonging to Phoenix Company No. 2, which was disbanded when the present system was organized. He was a member of the Board of Trade, and has the confidence of the business men of this city.

In April, 1867, our subject married Miss Sarah, daughter of John Sheatz. One child, John F., is the result of their union. Joseph S. Osterstock has truly been the architect of his own fortune, for especially in his early life his advantages were very limited. He was left an orphan at the tender age of eleven years, and when the war came on ran away to enlist, but was arrested at the depot by the constable, and returned home. When he began working for Mr. Chidsey, there were twenty-six men in that gentleman’s employ, and all but three of these entered the service. His brother, William G., was one of the first to enlist for the defense of the Stars and Stripes. The date of this was April 7, 1861, the very day on which, the “Star of the West” was fired upon. He then entered for three months’ service as a member of Company B, First Pennsylvania Infantry, was afterward First Sergeant of Company B, Fifty-first Regiment, Army of the Potomac, and served throughout the war, being in the famous charge at Antietam Bridge. He received wounds in the breast at the mine explosion in front of Petersburg, and from the effects of his injury his death resulted later. Theodore, another brother, enlisted in Company G, Sixty-first Regiment, and served for three years. He was mustered in February 4, 1861, and received his discharge June 13, 1865, from the Philadelphia Hospital. He was a member of the Army of the Potomac, and after returning from the war took up his abode in New York City, where he died in July, 1876.

The following is of interest to those who are acquainted with our subject, and bears testimony to his devoted service in the cause of liberty:

“Headquarters Quartermaster’s Department,
Washington, D. C, March 19, 1866.

“J. S. Osterstock, Second Lieutenant Company
H, No. 214th Regt. Pa. Vols:

“It is with sincere pleasure that I avail myself of this opportunity of bearing testimony to your good character, your untiring efforts, fidelity and soldierly bearing as an officer. Having known you for six months, during which time you were in charge of detachments doing duty in the Chief Quartermaster’s Department, a branch of which comes under my direction as Head Quartermaster, your conduct at this office in your official capacity has gained for yourself credit. I regret very much that your regiment is about to be relieved by the Twelfth U. S. Infantry.

“Hoping, however, that you may continue to give credit to yourself in whatever capacity you may be called upon in the future to fill, whether military or civil, I remain,
“Very truly your friend,
“James S. Humbert,

“M. I. Ludington, Chief Quartermaster’s Department, U. S. A.”
(The latter is now Chief Quartermaster in the United States army, with headquarters in California).

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the book, Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company. 

View additional Northampton County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Northampton County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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