After serving in the Pennsylvania Volunteers for less than a year, Isaac Hillkirk was captured by the Confederate army in the battle of Plymouth, in 1864. The hundred or so former slaves who had fought alongside his regiment were executed on the spot. Isaac and the other white captives were sent to a prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia, where tens of thousands of Union soldiers were held in a few acres of marshy ground, surrounded by a stockade. Twelve thousand died in little over a year from starvation, dysentery and hookworm. Isaac spent eight months there. When the war ended, he returned to Pennsylvania and set up home in Mercer, twenty miles north of New Castle, where he lived for the rest of his life. He died in 1920, when his grandson, Floyd Hillkirk, was eleven years old.
By the end of the decade, Floyd was an apprentice in the Cooper-Bessemer diesel engine plant in Grove City. He lost his driving license when he was twenty-one, after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Two years later, when Mildred Shaffer, the eighteen-year-old girl he was dating, asked for a ride into New Castle to visit her sister, Floyd had to ask his friend, Lowry Conner, to drive them in his car. Mildred sat on Floyd’s lap on the front seat; another girl, Mildred’s friend, sat between them and Lowry. About seven miles from town, Lowry lost control of the car on a corner near the Shady Grove inn. It left the road and overturned in a field. Everyone got out with only minor cuts and scrapes apart from Mildred, who split her skull. She died in the New Castle hospital twenty days later. The inquest apportioned no blame to any of the survivors.
Floyd got married when he was twenty-five and had two children. In 1956, he was arrested at North street and North Mercer street for drunk driving, an offence for which he had his mug shot taken and was fined $100. He later became a foreman in the machine shop of the Cooper-Bessemer plant, where he worked until he died, in 1970, at the age of sixty-one.Sources: New Castle News (21 July 1930, “Revoke Licenses Of Seventy Two Drunken Drivers”; 28 July 1932, “Three Injured In Auto Crash”; 8 July 1932, “Plans Inquest In Girl’s Death”; 4 Aug 1932, “Hold Inquest In Girl’s Death”); Floyd Hillkirk and Isaac Killkirk details via findagrave.com; “Black Flag Over Dixie”, Gregory J Urwin, Southern Illinois University, 2005; “The 101st Pennsylvania in the Civil War”, Harold B Birch, AuthorHouse, 2007.