Displaying items by tag: Hancock

Wednesday, 12 July 2023 15:11

William Henry Ortlip

This week's blog is brought to us by one of our volunteers, Tate Conklin.

Painting of the DeKalb Street Bridge
Painting of the DeKalb Street Bridge by William H. Ortlip (HSMC Art Collection)

General Winfield Scott Hancock is a name widely known due to his dominance in the Civil War as a Union general. Recently, we found this oil painting of the DeKalb Street Bridge. It was painted by William Henry Ortlip—seemingly having no connection to W.S. Hancock. However, upon further research, we discovered that he is actually a first cousin of W.S. Hancock. 

William Henry Ortlip was born in 1851 in Audubon, PA. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Ortlip specialized in still life and landscape oil paintings.  He was good friends of Thomas  Eakin, an extremely notable artist of the late 19th century. 

Black and white photograph of William H. Ortlip
William Henry Ortlip (1851-1936) (HSMC Photograph Collection)

Ortlip’s monochromatic depiction of the DeKalb Street Bridge features a calming overcast sky reflecting  off of the Schuylkill River. This is contrasted by the prominent green trees, scattered in front of and around the bridge. The original bridge no longer stands; it burned down in 1924, but it was reopened a few years later. 

Painting runs in the Ortlip family, as it spans four generations of professional artists. William Henry Ortlip’s son, H. Willard Ortlip, was a motivated and skilled artist. He followed in his father’s footsteps and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he met his wife, Aimèe Eschner. Three of their seven children became professional artists. Third and fourth-generation descendants of William Henry Ortlip have continued embodying the family’s profound heritage. 

William Henry Ortlip died in 1936 and was buried in the Montgomery Cemetery. He has continued to inspire generations upon generations of Ortlips to follow suit and express their artistic talents. 


Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 27 June 2019 15:17

Unraveling a Mystery

In preparation for our upcoming exhibit, Montgomery County Hospitals, we attempted to unravel a mystery regarding General Winfield Scott Hancock. On July 3, 1863, during the third day of the battle of Gettysburg, General Hancock was shot while on his horse. The bullet went through the saddle and lodged in the General’s upper thigh near the groin. Although wood and a nail (from the saddle) were removed from the wound, none of the field doctors could locate the bullet.

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General Hancock

General Hancock was eventually sent home to Norristown to recover from his wound. Several doctors tried, unsuccessfully, to remove the bullet. The wound continued to fester, causing many people to fear it would eventually kill the General. In a final attempt to remove the bullet, Dr. Louis W. Read was sent to General Hancock’s home in Norristown in late August 1863.


Bullet removed from Hancock

After examining the wound, Dr. Read realized previous attempts to remove the bullet had failed because General Hancock’s leg was not positioned in the same way he was sitting in the saddle at the time of his injury. Dr. Read instructed General Hancock to position himself similarly to how he was sitting in the saddle when he was injured. This allowed Dr. Read to quickly remove the bullet.

Dr. Read

Dr. Louis Read

Here is where historians have been unable to come to a consensus: how exactly did Dr. Read get General Hancock into the proper position to remove the bullet? The most popular theory among historians is General Hancock was instructed to straddle a chair on the dining room table. However, other theories such as being put into a saddle on a saw horse or a barrel also circulate among Civil War buffs. So far, we have been unable to locate a primary source to prove any of these theories.



Dr. Read’s portrait and the bullet he removed from General Hancock will be on display in our upcoming exhibit, Montgomery County Hospitals. There will be an opening celebration tonight, June 27, 2019 from 6PM to 9PM. Tickets are $40 per person. The exhibit will be free and open to the public from July 1, 2019 through March 2020. 

Published in Found in Collection