Short Biography of Private Daniel Shaner, Company E, 100th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, "The Roundheads"

By:  George Branigan, June 1999, based on materials furnished by Pat Vedner, genealogist studying the 'Shaner' surname, U.S. Archive Military and Pension Records and Lewis County, WA Historical Society

Edited and Transcribed for the web by David L. Welch

Daniel Shaner, Jr. was born in East Brook, Mercer Co., PA on May 18, 1845 and died July 24, 1926 in Mossy Rock, Lewis Co., WA. Much happened in between.

From both personal recollections and documented evidence, we have snapshots of a full life. In a newspaper account written by Edmond S. Meany, Professor of History at the University of Washington entitled "Living Pioneers of Washington" (May 12, 1946), we learn that Daniel struck out from home at 10 years of age. A family history relates that he made his way from Pennsylvania to the Washington Territory and back again. Although there exists a hand-written letter to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington dated March 6, 1922, Daniel claims to be uneducated having had "...only nine months training in a log school...". He may have dictated the letter or learned to write on his own, but by prevailing standards, he was literate by 1922.

Post-War Image (wearing GAR Membership Badge) with Pet Dog, Photo courtesy of Pat Vedner


He evidently enlisted in the military twice. There are conflicting accounts of his first enlistment: one says the 5th PA, Co L (the history cited above) and the other (an obituary, Chehalis Bee Nugget, Aug. 6, 1926) says he was part of the 58th PA Volunteers. One muster list reports him to have been part of the 58th for a single month from July 1, 1863 to August 15, 1863. There is no account of his dismissal or withdrawal from the first unit he joined. By his eighteenth birthday, however, he had mustered into the 100th PA Vol, Co. E on February 27, 1864 as witnessed and signed by Capt. N. J. Maxwell at North Liberty, PA. His fitness for service is attested to by both Capt Maxwell and a surgeon (signature, illegible) and he is recorded as being 5' 91/2", black eyes, black hair and of dark complexion. The muster became official on March 8, 1864 in Pittsburg signed by (either Geo or Gen) Williams for the duration of three years.

Six days short of his nineteenth birthday, Daniel Shaner was wounded at the Battle of Spottsylvania Court House on May 12, 1864. The event was recorded in the diary of a companion soldier, Bingham Findley Junkin who also enlisted February 27, 1864 from Mercer Co. The government casualty sheet documents that the wound was "gunshot wound of left hand" and that the information came from the 1st Division, 9th Corps.

The muster rolls for the duration of his enlistment with the 100th account for his movements. The earliest one covering Dec. 1863 to April, 1864 counts him as "present." The May/June roll lists him as absent with the remarks: "Wounded May 12 near Spottsylvania; sent to hosp. Wash. D. C. Due the sutler John Frame $1.00." The two muster rolls covering the months of July/August and Sept/ Oct all signed by Sturgis remark that he is in the hospital. One the Nov/Dec roll of 1864, we descover that he had been transfered to the Veterans Reserve Corps and provided transportation costs of $2.40. At some point, he was granted a 60 day furlough (undated) approved under the command of Maj. Gen'l Augue, signed by H. W. Smith at Harwood Hospital. The enclosed furlough document leaves many spaces blank, but it is clear that he was not to be considered a deserter. The final document in his file records him as being mustered out from Harrisburg, PA, July 24, 1865.

His activities during his service with the Veterans Reserve Corps are, as yet, undocumented other than by his own accounts. We know that the VRC was assigned guard duties away from the front. The history written my Meany reports that Daniel "...was a guard for Secretary of State William H. Seward, and was later guard for President Lincoln at the White House. He was at that position when the president was assassinated. He attended the funeral and afterwards witnessed the execution of the conspirators." This post-Civil War Letter written by Daniel Shaner describes his witnessing of the events at the time of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination while serving with the Veteran Reserve Corps.

By his own account in the letter referred to above, he states, "I was on duty at the white house when a lincoln was asasinated April 14 at 10 oclock at fords theater. I was on gard at W. h. Sewards house after his throat was cut in 1865." Duty rosters are unavailable [search at the National archives ongoing], but there is no reason to doubt his memory. Indeed, the commander of his unit Co A, 9th VRC, Capt. James M. McCamly was part of the team of soldiers, all VRC, delegated to accompany Lincoln's casket back to Illinois and the only ones allowed to move the coffin.

There are extant photographs of Daniel Shaner (post war) which accompany his obituary and the history cited above. Another photograph includes him among other members of the 100th PA Vols at a reunion in Plain Grove, PA, October 15, 1884. But it would take a keen eye indeed to pick him out of the crowd shots of the soldiers attending the execution of the conspirators, although these photos exist.

Two years after the reunion of 1884 and 14 years after he married Amanda Jane Rogers in North Liberty (1872), he moved his family to the Washington Territory [transcriber's note:  Washington became a state in 1889]. But during the interim, he continued his military affiliation with the state militia of Pennsylvania having been appointed to the rank of second lieutenant by Governor Henry M. Hoyt.

His occupational history is variously recorded as yeoman (enlistment document), medler (furlough document), farmer, miner, prospector and lawman. It is clear he lived by his labor. Meany's history cites his appointment as a deputy by both Sheriff William Cochrane and later Sheriff John H. McGraw (later Governor of WA) in Seattle, and he is reported to have been the first marshall of Slaughter, WA now Auburn. This claim and status needs to be clarified. Brochures from the town of Auburn cite F. L. Berner as the first marshall appointed in 1891. But that could be a quibble. A letter from Lt. Joseph Koch, a local Auburn historian, remembers the role played by Daniel Shaner in the history of Auburn, and he writes, "Constable Dan Shaner was the first law enforcement type but since there was no city government a marshall wasn't apptd 'til 1891 (F. L. Berner)." Koch also lists notes he combed through and found an item in the Auburn Globe Repub. "Auburn's first marshal dies 30 July 1926 (no name mentioned)". This, of course, is the year that Daniel Shaner died.

Daniel Shaner's place in the emerging history of Lewis and Kent Co, WA, although modest, is recognized today. The address he gave in 1913 on the Short History of Mossyrock, WA and Lewis Co is being published on the internet by Mossyrock High School students. His second hand account of the Indian massacre of 1861 of Lt. Slaughter after the White River massacre of the Brannan family is credible. His daughter, Clara May Shaner married the nephew of William Brannan who along with his wife and children were killed by the Indians and owned the "donation claim", Brannan's Prairie where Lt Slaughter was besieged and killed.

Auburn, WA was in fact first called Slaughter in memory of Lt. Slaughter. Daniel Shaner claims to have come up with the idea to name the area after Lt. Slaughter. Auburn history makes no mention of the originator of the idea, but does recount how the name was unsettling given the coincidence of the Lt.'s surname and the events of the White River massacre. The town changed its name to Auburn.

Daniel Shaner removed to Mossy Rock where he died in 1926. His obituary recounts that his funeral was attended by Representative Albert Johnson, an old time friend and many "hoary- haired Civil war veterans." Since their names were not recorded, one can only guess as to their identities and their regimental histories.  (Websmith Note:  The image to the left shows Shaner, 4th from left with white shirt with some of those "hoary-haired Civil War Veterans")

Both Daniel and his wife are buried in the Klickitat Cemetery. His progeny include these surnames from the marriages of his daughters: Brannan, Reinkens, Dunn, Campbell, and Spath.

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