Saturday, August 14, 2021

End of the line for Chariton's Iseminger Post No. 18

I got to wondering yesterday, after sharing here a 1922 photograph of remaining members of Chariton's Iseminger Post No. 18, Grand Army of the Republic, if the passing of that organization had been noted in Lucas County newspapers.

Unlike most U.S. veterans' organizations, the G.A.R. was not intended to survive the death of the last Civil War veterans. In Iowa, the end came during September 1949 when James Martin, of Sutherland, died. But Amy Noll, G.A.R. secretary, continued to occupy the office in the capitol building that the Legislature had provided for the organization and to curate its collection of documents and memorabilia until 1954, when the office was moved to the Historical Building and the organization's archives added to the State Historical Society of Iowa collection.

In Lucas County, the last two surviving veterans died on the same day, Jan. 25, 1941, both 96 --- William Humphreys at Oakley and Robert Killen at Norwood. The following news item, headlined "Death Closes G.A.R, Books; Last Vets Die; Once 250 Strong," was published in The Herald Patriot of Jan. 30.


With the deaths of William Humphreys and Robert Killen, last two Civil War veterans living in Lucas county, the Iseminger Post of the G.A.R. was disbanded.

For approximately 60 years the influences of this post had been felt in this community until recent years when the surviving veterans grew feebler and their meetings were discontinued.

But from the post's organization on Oct. 18, 1879, until recent years, this group was active in the life of Chariton. Old timers will remember how the veterans turned out on such occasions as Decoration Day or on the Fourth of July.

At one time, the local post had a membership of 250 soldiers. The charter members of the group were Warren S. Dungan, John H. Cowen, John L. Brown, Moses E. Thorpe, Emmett B. Woodward, Nelson Be Gardner, Glark T. Brant, A.U. McCormick, George H. Ragsdale, J.H. McFarland, John O. Coles and Joe R. Landes. 

Of this group, eight were privates, two were sergeants, one a lieutenant and one a captain.

The post was named after Daniel Iseminger, a captain in Company B. of the Sixth Iowa Infantry who was killed in action at the battle of Shiloh.

The group met fairly regularly until about 1934 when only a few of the once large membership remained.


The article is not exactly accurate, however. The Iseminger Post actually disbanded formally on Dec. 31, 1933, when surviving members became too old to sustain the organization, according to State Historical Society records. The post always had been Lucas County's largest with a total of 260 members during its more than 50 years of existence. 

On June 6, 1941, Gertrude Hatcher of Chariton --- then state president of Iowa's Daughters of Union Veterans organization --- delivered Iseminger Post records to Miss Noll in Des Moines. The organization's charter and other memorabilia turned up in the courthouse attic during late summer and were delivered to Miss Noll on Sept. 9.

Here's a link to a Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War site that provides a good deal of information about the organization in Iowa and its surviving records. You'll also find a link there to the LDS FamilySearch site where digital images of membership records may be examined. This is a free service, but you will have to register in order to use it.

Records also are available there for Lucas County's other three G.A.R. Posts --- Francis M. Nolan No. 208 at Russell (active 1886-1920); Griggsby Foster No. 320 at Lucas, active 1884-1894; and William H. McKnight No. 491 at Derby, active 1891-1917.

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