GDG- Anyone Ever Seen Joseph Winters' Memoir

John Rudy john.m.rudy at
Thu Dec 9 13:34:55 CST 2010


I'm going to quickly become known for my shots in the dark and weird
tangential Gettysburg questions, but here goes again...

There's been a puzzling mystery which has surrounded Chambersburg's history
for a number of years, centering on Joseph Winters.  Winters was an
African-American living in Chambersburg from about 1830 through the war.
Purportedly he was active within the Underground Railroad, boasting that he
assisted John Brown when he met with Frederick Douglass in 1859 in a
Chambersburg quarry.  Winters is most likely best known for his patent on
improvements to fire escape ladders.

Winters apparently wrote an autobiography/memoir of his life, completing the
book, "ten days after the battle of Gettysburg," according to the
promotional material for the work.  That boast is just so tantalizing, and
I'm sure the work would give amazing perspective on the Gettysburg Campaign
as seen through the eyes of an African-American, written in the period and
at the moment the events occured.  The book is becoming sort of a "Holy
Grail" for me, as no copy of the work has surfaced as of yet.  Temple
University (
has a set of documents pertaining to Winters, including a copy of the
advertisement for the book with its boast.  But no copy of the book itself
is listed anywhere in Worldcat that I can find.

So, Gettysburg Folk...  Has anyone ever seen a copy of Winters' memoir?  Run
across it in your research?  Who might I need to hunt down to find a copy
for the folks over in Chambersburg (and myself) to peruse?

-John Rudy
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