Six of These are Non-Residents;
History of Post and Women's Relief Corps
by Edwin C. Aborn
In a room in the southwest corner of the Kosciusko county court house, on the first Saturday afternoon of each month, a few men, now feeble and old and gray, meet in solemn and dignified assemblage. These aged individuals represent the remnant in Kosciusko county of the once powerful, patriotic and most illustrious Grand Army of the Republic.
Though the local post of the G.A.R. now numbers but nineteen members, six of whom are non- residents of the city, these few remaining veterans still hold their monthly meetings and thus strive to perpetuate memories and comradeships formed during the dark days when the nation was bathed in blood and tears.
The once mighty Grand Army of the Republic has faded to a thin, blue line and many posts that flourished a decade ago have shrunken to surprisingly low memberships. There are a number of posts in the state where a few surviving members are still struggling to keep the spirit of Civil war days alive.
A recent estimate places the number of surviving members of the Grand Army of the Republic in Indiana at only a few hundred.
The First Enlistments
The election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of the United States, November 6, 1860 was the signal for the bursting forth of the volcano which had slumbered many months, and which the country had hoped would died out without a general conflagration.
This country did not believe that the states which claimed the right of peaceable secession from the Union would proceed to extremities. The air was full of rumors, anxieties, fears and discordant counsels everywhere prevailed.
A comparatively few persons seemed to intuitively comprehend the great calamity threatening the nation, but time was required to develop its magnitude and create common sentiment.
The secession of South Carolina was the tocsin which brought men together for thought--the shot at Fort Sumter urged them to action. Warsaw and Kosciusko county were not lacking in patriotism, as evidenced by the number of their gallant sons who participated in the War of the Rebellion.
At the first call for troops a ready response was made, the roll of honor belonged to Corporal George A. Bashford, the first soldier to enlist from this county, April 20, 1861. Ambrose G. Bierce, Isaac Barr, John Finton, William H. Henry and Martin L. Stewart all of whom enlisted in Company E, Ninth Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry, except Ambrose Bierce, who became a member of Company C of the same regiment.
The Ninth Regiment was mustered into service at Indianapolis on April 25, 1861, Robert H. Milroy, colonel. This was the first regiment to leave the state for Virginia, departing from Indianapolis May 29, of the same year, and on June 3, participating in the surprise of the rebel camp at Grafton. The regiment took part in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Stone River, Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, Lookout Mountain, and took a prominent part in the Atlanta campaign.
Warsaw's First G.A.R. Post
On November 11, 1882, the first post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Warsaw was chartered by Commander James R. Carahan and Adjutant General Benj. D. House, department of Indiana. It was known as Kosciusko Post No. 114, and was instituted with thirty-two charter members as follows: Thomas, Hubler, Robert H. Richhart, Nate. C. Welch, Andrew J. Bates, Chas. B. Grosspitch, Chas. V. Pyle, N. N. Boydston, Alvin Porter, J. B. Roberds, Joseph C. Baker, Wm. P. Seymour, Joseph B. Dodge, P. L. Runyan, H. F. Burst, John A. Eichar, Benton Q. Morris, E. S. Blackford, E. M. Chaplin, Alexander Moore, A. S. Milice, James M. Thomas, Austin C. Funk, H. T. Birst, Robt. M. Hickman, S. W. Cowand, Geo. W. Pringle, James Harris, Eli Snyder, Samuel Scott, John N. Runyan, Samuel Croxton, Francis Moran. Nate C. Welch was chosen as the first post commander.
New Post Organized
About four years afterward, due to some dissension, a number of the members withdrew from Kosciusko Post. A second post was then organized to be known as Henry Chipman Post No. 442 and a charter issued March 31, 1895. It was composed of fifty-seven charter members, the names of all of whom are not available. They were mustered in by Capt. Allen H. Dougall, of Fort Wayne. Col. Chas. W. Chapman was elected to the office of the first post commander. Post No. 442 for many years was know by the sobriquet of "Company Q".
Merging of the Posts.
For a period of thirty years two posts of the Grand Army of the Republic existed in Warsaw. However, the passing of time tended to so thin the ranks of the veterans of both organizations as well as to adjust the differences which had been responsible for the formation of a second post. As a consequence a consolidation was deemed advisable, and on April 3, 1916, a merger was perfected. The consolidated post was chartered on the above date with 110 members, to be known as Warsaw Post No. 114. B. Q. Morris had the honor to be chosen as first post commander of the consolidated organization.
Present Officers Warsaw Post No. 114
Post Commander - E. L. Semans
Senior Vice - Benjamin Carr
Junior Vice - Jacob Elginfritz
Adjutant - Christian F. Bert
Quartermaster - I. W. Sharp
Officer of Day - John Nighswander
Officer of Guard - Noah Puntenney.
A Lone Survivor
Comrade John A. Peterson, who resides at 106 North Park avenue, is said to be the only survivor out of the entire membership comprising the former Henry Chipman Post No. 442. Furthermore he is the sole survivor of a committee of ten Civil war veterans appointed to extend a welcome to Chaplain Gage (a minister who served with much distinction during the war), upon the occasion of the latter's visit to Warsaw a number of years ago. Comrade Gage was Chaplain of the Twelfth Indiana Regiment, General Reub. Williams commanding. Mr. Peterson was one of the few members of his regiment who escaped being taken prisoner when the regiment was trapped by the Confederates and suffered stinging defeat and severe losses during the battle of Richmond, Kentucky. Though having no connection with matters pertaining to the Civil war it will not detract from the reader's interest to make reference to the fact that Mr. Peterson is also the only survivor of the charter membership of Forrest Lodge No. 46, Knights of Pythias, of Warsaw. Mr. Peterson is native of Seneca county, Ohio. He was for a number of years engaged in the grocery trade in this city as a partner in the firm of Mumaw & Peterson. He has resided in Warsaw for a period of seventy years, having enlisted in this city in 1862. Mr. Peterson is the grandfather of John C. Peterson, who was killed in battle in France during the World war and in whose honor the American Legion post of Warsaw is named. For forty-one years Mr. Peterson was employed in the railway mail service on the Pennsylvania line between Chicago and Pittsburg. He is now in his eighty-seventh year and is remarkable active for one of his age.
The Youngest Soldier
Thomas Hubler, whose name heads the list of charter members of Kosciusko Post No. 114, was reputed to have been the youngest soldier in the Civil war. He was a native of Warsaw and a son of Major Henry Hubler, of the Twelfth Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Thomas Hubler, when barely thirteen years of age, accompanied the Twelfth Indiana, commanded by Colonel Reub. Williams, into the war zone, and as a drummer boy, served until the close of the conflict. Mr. Hubler then returned to Warsaw and resided here for a number of years, later removing to Chicago, where he resided until his death a few years ago.
The Drummer Boy of Shiloh
William Henry Mershon, known in history as "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh," was a Warsaw product. He enlisted at the outbreak of the war as a drummer in a company recruited at Fort Wayne by Captain J. B. White, a former resident of Warsaw. This company was assigned to the regiment known as the Thirtieth Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Mr. Mershon at the time of his enlistment was but sixteen years of age and served with distinction from September 13, 1861, until November 11, 1865.
When the body of the martyred President Lincoln reached Chicago en route to its final resting place in Springfield, Major W. H. Mershon was leader of the military band detailed to accompany the funeral cortege and provide appropriate music during the last sad rites. Mr. Mershon was a musician of recognized ability and for a number of seasons toured the United States and Canada as a member of a high-class musical organization known as "The Alleghenians," Swiss Bell Ringers. In addition to participating in the bell- ringing features, Mr. Mershon rendered his novel and entertaining snare-drum solos, for which he was justly famous. At a later period in his career he was prominently identified with a number of educational institutions in charge of the musical department. He was a former member of Kosciusko Post No. 114 of Warsaw. William Henry
Mershon was the son of the late A. J. Mershon, one of Warsaw's pioneer business men, and was a brother of Mrs. Lydia McComb, who resides at 410 North Lake street. He passed away at his California home on June 9, 1931 at the age of eighty-six years. His body was cremated in accordance with his request, and a military funeral service was conducted by Bartlett-Logan Post G.A.R. of Los Angeles. The ashes of "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh" occupy a place in the beautiful Inglewood cemetery in that city.
Prominent among the soldiers from Warsaw who achieved distinction during the Civil war may be mentioned the names of General Reub. Williams and Colonel Joseph B. Dodge, both of whom have long since answered the call of the Great Commander and enlisted in the regiment of the Realm Eternal.
On April 19, 1861, Reub Williams organized the first company to be sent from Kosciusko county to the field. Of this company he was chosen second lieutenant. On arrival of the company at Indianapolis it was mustered into the Twelfth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers. With this regiment his subsequent fortunes were closely identified during the war. Henry Hubler, also a resident of Warsaw and a veteran of the Mexican war, was captain of the company, but was shortly afterward promoted to the position of major of the regiment whereupon Lieutenant Williams was elevated to the captaincy of the company. On the 11th day of December 1861, Captain Williams was captured by a Confederate force under Stonewall Jackson, taken to Richmond, Va., and confined in Libby priosn where he remained until discharged the following March.
Upon reorganization of his regiment Captain Williams was commissioned as lieutenant-colonel, and held that rank until the battle of Richmond, Ky. when Colonel William H. Link, commanding officer of the regiment fell mortally wounded, when Governor Morton commissioned Captain Williams as colonel, which rank he held until near the close of the war, when he received the appointment of brevet brigadier-general of volunteers from President Lincoln. After the fall of Atlanta, General Williams was selected as a member of the court-martial convened to try the Indiana conspirators, or "Knights of the Golden Circle," a treasonable organization existing in this state. At the conclusion of this court-martial General Williams rejoined his regiment at Savannah, Ga., and commanded it on the march through the Carolinas and Virginia to Washington, where his regiment had the honor of leading in the grand review by special order and was the first to pass before the president and thousands of visitors from all parts of the country. His appointment as brevet brigadier-general was delivered to him by General John A. Logan in person.
Joseph B. Dodge was the leading spirit in the recruiting of Company B and Company I, both for the Thirtieth Indiana. He was elected to the position of captain of Company B. Upon the occasion of the organization of the regiment he was surprised to receive a commission as lieutenant-colonel and on October 5, 1861, he left with his regiment for the front. In April, 1862 he was promoted to the position of colonel of the regiment the former colonel having died of wounds received at the Battle of Shiloh on the 7th of that month. The ensuing fall he was placed in command of the Second Brigade, Second Division, Twentieth Army Corps, which he retained until the consolidation of the Twentieth and Twenty-first Corps, after the Battle of Chickamauga. In December, 1863, he was ordered to Nashville, Tenn., where he remained as president of the court-martial for the district of Tennessee until August, 1864. He then rejoined his old regiment in the Atlanta campaign, remaining with it until the organization was mustered out of service, September 20, 1864. He was never severely wounded, although he had seven different horses shot from under him. He was captured once, during a severe night battle, but while being taken to the confederate lines he escaped by a ruse and his two captors were taken prisoners instead by the union forces.
Among others who enlisted from Warsaw and Kosciusko county and served their country with distinction, the names of the following patriots occupy a prominent place on the pages of the county's military history.
Colonel Charles W. Chapman, Seventy-fourth Indiana Infantry Volunteers.
Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Leslie, Fourth Indiana Cavalry.
Lieutenant-Colonel N. N. Boydston, Thirtieth Indiana Infantry
Major James H. Carpenter, Seventh Indiana Cavalry
Major Henry Hubler, Twelfth Indiana Infantry Volunteers
Captain Jeremiah Kuder, Seventy-fourth Indiana Infantry Volunteers. Medal of honor presented to him by congress for bravery in battle.
Surgeon John K. Leedy, Seventy-fourth Indiana Infantry Volunteers.
Surgeon Edward R. Parks, Thirtieth Indiana Infantry Volunteers.
Adjutant Marshall H. Parks, acting assistant adjutant-general of the staff of General W. B. Woods.
Surgeon Francis M. Pearman, Thirtieth Indiana Infantry Volunteers.
Assistant Surgeon Samuel M. Hayes, Thirtieth Indiana Infantry Volunteers.
Women's Relief Corps
A few years after the founding of the posts of the Grand Army of the Republic a women's auxiliary of each post was formed. These auxiliaries were chartered as Women's Relief Corps and originally had as their mission the organization of the mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of Civil war veterans, thus to bring them into closer friendships and assist the ex-soldiers in the maintenance of their organizations. Now, however, membership in the Women's Relief Corps is no longer limited to relatives of veterans, but any woman who makes declaration of loyalty and allegiance to the stars and stripes is eligible.
Henry Chipman Women's Relief Corps No. 162 was organized and chartered in August, 1891. Mrs. Maria Berst was elected as the first president. Mrs. Nora Densel served as the last presiding officer. Much of the early history of this organization is not available, but among the charter members yet living may be mentioned Mrs. Dora Oram, Mrs. Mary Cook and Mrs. Alice Morris.
Kosciusko Relief Corps No. 163 was formed a couple of months later and received its charter in October 1891, with seventy-four members said to be the greatest number of charter members credited to any corps in the state. The first president was Mrs. Mary A. Parks and Mrs. Etta Haas was the last president. The names of but three surviving charter members can be recalled -Mrs. Lydia McComb, Mrs. Margaret Hathaway and Mrs. Nancy Walters.
Among those who served as president of Kosciusko Corps, in addition to its first presiding officer, may be mentioned Mrs. Lydia McComb, Mrs. Margaret Hathaway, Mrs. Edward Shorb, Mrs. Aaron Eschbach, Mrs. Frank Leas and Mrs. Beulah Parks Frazer. Kosciusko Women's Relief Corps was installed by Mrs. Laura Hess of Wabash, department president at that time.
In response to a sentiment favoring consolidation that had for some time prevailed, the two organizations perfected a merger, and on July 24, 1916, a Women's Relief Corps to be known as Warsaw Corps No. 162, with 199 members, received its charter. The first president of the consolidated corps was Mrs. Mary A. Parks, her successor as second president being her daughter, Mrs. Beulah Parks Frazer.
Nothwithstanding the fact that many of the members had passed to their reward, those remaining still strive to perpetuate, the organization and hold their regular monthly meetings in the G.A.R. rooms in the court house. The officers for the current year, recently installed are as follows:
President --Edith Coons
Senior Vice--Leona Lonsbury
Junior Vice--Ruth Snyder
It is a fact worthy of mention that in the year 1912 when the state convention of the Women's Relief Corps, Department of Indiana was held at Richmond, three of the state officers chosen at that meeting were residents of Warsaw, namely: Mrs. Beulah Parks Frazer, department president; Mrs. Lydia McComb, department treasurer, Mrs. Mary A. Parks, department secretary.
At the state convention of the organization held at Gary in 1927, Miss Venus M. Hathaway of Warsaw, was elected to the position of department chaplain.
Mrs. Elsie Parks Chase of Denver, Colo., a native and former resident of this city, daughter of Mrs. Mary A Parks and sister of Mrs. Beulah Parks Frazer, had the honor to be elected, a few years ago, to the office of national president of the Daughters of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization whose membership is limited to daughter of G.A.R. members exclusively.
G.A.R. Notes of Interest
The first post commander of Kosciusko Post No. 114 was Nate C. Welch and I. W. Sharp was the last commander. Henry Chipman Post No. 442 had as first and last post commanders, Col. C. W. Chapman and B. O. Morris, respectively. The latter was also chosen as the first post commander of the consolidated organization, Warsaw Post No. 114.
The state encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Indiana was held in Warsaw in June, 1904. The session lasted three days and was one of the largest gatherings that ever assembled in the city. The hotels and rooming houses of both Warsaw and Winona were taxed to capacity to accomodate the immense crowd in attendance.
In the month of June, 1877, a soldiers' reunion was held in Warsaw. The occasion of this event coming only about twelve years following the close of the war, the immense throng in attendance at the reunion, which continued for two days, was said to have been the largest at any demonstration ever held in Warsaw up to that time.
Some conception of the Grim Reaper's steady and relentless march through the ranks of the Warsaw G.A.R. may be formed when it is announced that at this writing but nineteen veterans now comprise the membership of Warsaw Post No. 114. Of this number but thirteen are residents of Warsaw and its environs. Of the out-of-town members Claypool has 1; North Webster 1; Mentone 1; Bourbon 3. All have passed the octogenarian era and some register well up in the nineties. The nineteen members of Warsaw Post No. 114 at this writing are: Benjamin Carr, Samuel Campbell, Jacob Elginfritz, Jasper Frush, J. H. Hankins, H. Knickerbocker, Charles Linn, John Nighswander, John Peterson, Noah Puntenney, Alvin Robinson, I. W. Sharp, E. L. Seamans, all of Warsaw; William H. Cattell, Mentone, C. F. Bert, Claypool, James G. Jarrett, North Webster, John L. Ames, Isaac Grosvenor and William H. Rosbrugh, Bourbon. Jacob Elginfritz, ninety-seven years of age, is the oldest member.
Of the various comrades who have served as post commander of the three posts which have existed in Warsaw the records disclose that but six are now living.
According to the latest roster of the G.A.R. Department of Indiana, there are 115 posts yet existant in the state. Many, however, are said to have barely enough members to retain a charter. James Gilmartin, of Post No. 28, Princeton, Ind., is department commander.
Terre Haute has the distinction of having been the first city in Indiana where a post of G.A.R. was organized. That city is the home of Morton Post No. 1. The last post to be established in the state was William A. Ketcham Post No. 593 at Gary.
A Tribute in Verse
The following verse is from the pen of Prof. I. W. Sharp, 910 East Fort Wayne street, and was written as a tribute to the Boys in Blue, whose ranks are so rapidly diminishing. It is a touching reminder of comradships formed during the darkest days of the nation's history Comrad Sharp, in company with his daughter, Miss Frances Sharp, a couple of years ago embarked on an automobile tour which took them to Gettysburg and other historical battlegrounds. Comrad Sharp has prepared in book form a decidedly interesting account of his visit to scenes made famous by the civil strife. The verse:
Long years have passed, old friends, since we
First met in life's young day.
And friends long loved by thee and me
Since then have passed away:
But enough remain to cheer us on
And sweeten when'er we met.
The memory we hold of the many gone
And the few who are left as yet.
Warsaw Daily Times Saturday Jan. 16,
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