Demming, Col. Henry C., was born in Geneva, N. Y., September 28, 1842. He is a direct descendant, on his father's side, of John Demming, whose name appears in the Liberal charter of 1662, granted by Charles II. to the colony of Connecticut, and afterwards concealed in the famous Charter Oak, and who is mentioned in Savage's "Genealogical Dictionary of New England" as one of the principal settlers of Wethersfield, Conn. His mother, whose maiden name was Sarah Vierna Carpenter, was a native of Bennington, Vt., and the surnames most familiar on the maternal side are Carpenter and Hildreth. They seem to have been among the earliest settlers of Vermont.
Before he was three years of age young Demming had been taught his letters by his mother, and when about thirteen years old he entered upon a classical course. During his vacations he spent considerable time in the printing office of his native village, sometimes working as a roller boy at the hand press, and this led to his giving up his class studies and becoming an apprentice in the Geneva Gazette office. This apprenticeship, however, was summarily cut short, and he went to work on his uncle's fruit and horticultural farm, and helped bring into profitable bearing the first vineyard of the many now dotting the hill-ascending slopes surrounding the charming Seneca Lake.
His advent into Pennsylvania occurred in the summer of 1859, and, after many vicissitudes in search of employment, he entered Harrisburg on a bleak November day as a mule driver on the canal en route for the Paxton furnace with a boat load of coal. The canal suddenly freezing up, navigation was declared closed for the season, and young Demming sought employment in the printing office of the Harrisburg Patriot and Union, and contracted to complete his apprenticeship in that establishment. Before the apprenticeship agreement expired the Rebellion broke out, and it was with great reluctance that he was obligated to forego the opportunity to enlist when the first call for volunteers appeared. On September 10, 1861, however, he tendered his services as private to Capt. (afterwards Maj.) Charles C. Davis, of company I, Seventh Pennsylvania cavalry, which regiment was then in Camp Cameron, near Harrisburg, drilling and awaiting orders to proceed to the front. Unfortunately, in a short time, he became involved in a hand-to-hand struggle with some drunken Welshman who had deserted the regiment, and he was advised to retire, as they threatened to take his life if he remained.
A second call having been made for three months' men, Mr. Demming immediately enlisted as a private, and without personal solicitation came within a few votes of being elected second lieutenant of the company.
On the call for nine months' volunteers the records show that young Demming was the first man to enlist as a private, connecting himself with company A, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania volunteers. He was subsequently detailed to assist the medical officers by keeping the records of their examination of volunteers, and was subsequently detached for duty in the mustering office of Capt. Richard I. Dodge, of the regular army. During and following his detached duty service he was sent on important missions South, once in charge of a large body of convalescent soldiers, being appointed a sergeant for the purpose, and subsequently to the Army of the Potomac, near Fredericksburg, about the time of the battle of Chancellorsville.
After nearly a year's service as a private soldier young Demming appears on the military roll as a corporal of an independent company, formed for the purpose of assisting in the protection of Pennsylvania from invasion in 1863. In this capacity he did special service in the darkness of the early morning of the memorable July 2, when portions of the invading hosts were sweeping down the Cumberland valley to destroy Pennsylvania's capital and devastate the neighboring country. Corporal Demming was the principal in capturing in the Susquehanna, opposite the late residence of Hon. Simon Cameron, in Harrisburg, a Confederate captain and scout who had nearly accomplished his mission, and with a map of the fords of the Susquehanna from Marysville to just below Harrisburg, was quite prepared to return to the Confederate cavalry advance, under General Stuart, less than five miles away, to report favorably upon a plan to burn the public buildings, destroy the railroad and levy heavy tribute upon the citizens of the State capital. A day or two afterwards he volunteered to help convey four hundred thousand rounds of ammunition to the Union army near Gettysburg. A few months afterwards Corporal Demming re-enlisted as a private, and was unanimously elected first lieutenant of the company, and subsequently promoted to quartermaster of his regiment, the One Hundred and Ninety-fourth Pennsylvania volunteers, and afterwards acted as quartermaster, commisary and ordinance officer, under Gen. James Nagle in Maryland, Third separate brigade, Eighth army corps. He then recruited a sufficient number of men to be entitled a captaincy, but the emergency of the Government induced him to accept the first lieutenancy of the company, which was subsequently assigned as company I, to the Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania veteran volunteers, First brigade, First division, Fourth army corps, in the Army of Cumberland, under Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas. Here Lieutenant Demming participated in the last campaign of Tennessee, and then in the memorable campaign of Gen. P. H. Sheridan, in Texas, at the close of the war. In one of these campaigns Lieutenant Demming was assigned to duty on the staff of the corps commander, Maj. Gen. D. S. Stanley, and then as mustering officer on the staff of the lamented Gen. George A. Custer. While acting in this latter capacity he aided in mustering out General Grant's original regiment, the Twenty-first Illinois volunteers, and in January, 1866, he mustered in the last two volunteers of the war of the Rebellion, it having been ascertained that while they had served faithfully as soldiers they had never been duly mustered into service. Declining to accept a commissioned office in the Freedman's Bureau, he was honorably discharged and returned to Harrisburg about April 1, 1866. Lieutenant Demming was subsequently elected to the captaincy of a company of the "Boys in Blue," and was then promoted to major and judge advocate by Gov. John W. Geary, serving in that capacity on the staff of maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jordan, commanding the Fifth division of the National Guard of Pennsylvania from October 12, 1870, until honorably discharged, June 30, 1874. On January 30, 1884, he was appointed by Gov. Pattison an aide-de-camp on his staff, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and served as such throughout that official's term. He was recommissioned in January, 1887, as lieutenant colonel by Governor Beaver, and appointed on his staff, being the senior of his rank thereon and served until June 11, 1887, when he resigned, and was honorably discharged.
On September 11, 1887, Governor Seales, of North Carolina, tendered him a place on his staff as special aide, with the rank of colonel, which he accepted in time to appear with the governor at the centennial celebration of the Constitution of the United States, held in Philadelphia the same month. This position he held until Governor Scales' term expired, about three years afterwards. Several times during the war he received injuries which required treatment at the hospitals, but the most serious ailment from which he suffered was a violent attack of typhoid fever contracted near Nashville, Tenn., from which he would in all probability have died had not the devotion of his wife, a native of Middletown, Pa., impelled her to leave her home in Harrisburg and go to him in the field, traveling a part of the way through a country infested with guerillas, and care for her husband until he was sufficiently recovered to bear removal home. During his terms of service Colonel Demming received less than $100 in bounties of every description.
In civil life, since the war, he has usually followed the occupations of journalist or stenographer, although as far back as 1860 he excelled as a printer, his composition bill for one week, while employed on the Harrisburg Telegraph, exceeding ninety thousand ems, much of the work being "solid matter," a record that had not been equaled in Harrisburg at that time. He was the city editor of the Harrisburg Daily Telegraph while still a minor. He has from time to time been a contributor to a number of the leading periodicals of the United States and Canada, and until recently was a correspondent of several of the great dailies. The farmer's Friend, printed at Mechanicsburg, Pa., and enjoying perhaps the largest farmer patronage of any agricultural paper in Pennsylvania, was started jointly by its present proprietor and Colonel Demming.
He read law with Hon. A. J. Herr, ex-State senator from the Dauphin district, and devoted considerable attention to the study of medicine and the physical sciences. Astronomy, geology and mineralogy have been special studies, together with the acquirement of some knowledge of modern languages. Having devoted considerable time for many years past to practical mining he has acquired quite an amount of knowledge in that direction, and has had numerous notices in the public press relative to his work and success in discovering and developing valuable deposits of iron ore and other minerals in Pennsylvania, Maryland and the South.
During the past ten or twelve years he has given a great deal of time and attention to the development of several mines in Western North Carolina, and has brought to public notice at home and abroad a number of valuable gem minerals found in the South. His collection of gems and gem materials, made principally through the Marion Bullion Company and the Marion Improvement Company, of north Carolina, is now perhaps as large, varied and unique as any other collection of American precious and semi-precious stones. One selection of five hundred gems was awarded the highest prize at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, in 1893.
His activity in farming matters led to his joining the Farmer's Alliance in the spring of 1890, and forming the first organization in Pennsylvania, Patriarch Farmers' Alliance No. 1, of which he was made the first president. He was made the first president of the State organization, afterwards State secretary, and subsequently member and secretary of the executive committee of the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union.
Colonel Demming's specialty, however, for a number of years was phonographic reporting. Beginning with a "Pitman's Manual of Phonography" on a farm in 1862, which he still had with him on his final discharge from the army in 1866, he continued studying the art until the "Reporter's Manual" was mastered. In the winter of 1866-67 a position as amanuensis was secured on the Pennsylvania Legislative Record, During eight seasons of the Legislature he was employed, two years as an amanuensis, and then as a verbatim reporter. Throughout two of the annual sessions he did the entire verbatim reporting of the House of Represenatives. His professional engagements steadily increased until he became the "official" of five of the judicial districts of Pennsylvania, and regularly did the reporting of all civil cases in which the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was a party, besides having been special official stenographer of the department of justice of the United States, and holding other equally important positions. In addition to these official appointments he was the stenographer of the Pennsylvania Board of Agricultural from its organization in 1877 until 1892.
After the organization of the International Stenographers' Association Colonel Demming became an active member, being honored with the vice-presidency for the United States in 1882, and elected president at its session in Toronto, Canada, in August, 1883. In 1887 Colonel Demming was made a delegate to the International Congress in London.
In political matters he has served the city of Harrisburg in her council chambers, and had the distinction of being named as a candidate for delegate to the convention which remodeled the constitution of Pennsylvania. He was once nominated by a minority party for member of Congress, but without hope of election, although he received three times the vote of the regular ticket.
At an early age he sought out and became a member of the most reputable and prominent organizations and societies of his community, and is a life-member of a number, including the Masonic fraternity. The list embraces forty-two, of which fifteen are secret and twenty-seven non-secret, including seven of a religious character. In a number of them he has held official positions. He was president of the Association of Survivors of the Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania veteran volunteers, and is a member of and takes a deep interest in a number of other military associations, especially the Grand Army of Republic, the Loyal Legion, the Society of the Army of the Potomac, the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, and the National Guard. Colonel Demming has been very active in church and Sabbath-school work, having been an officer in his church for more than twenty-one years, and a superintendent of one Sunday-school from the time of its foundation until it was seventeen years old, besides holding other important official relations in the church of his selection at home and elsewhere. He has been secretary of the General Eldership of the Church of God in North America, serving as president of the Sabbath-school Convention of his church for that part of Pennsylvania east of the Allegheny mountains, and vice-president of the Pennsylvania Sabbath-school Association.
On October 20, 1863, he married Miss Kate E. Whitman, of Middletown, Dauphin county, and the union has been blessed with a family of five children.
Demming, Col. Henry C., p. 314 to 317
Transcribed by Gwen Bixler Drivon at GGDGEN@aol.com for the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription
6 Nov. 2000
Copyright c 2000 - All Rights Reserved: Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.