Grand Army of the Republic
George H. Jones of Oxford, Maine, was the only Comrade of the Department of Maine to serve as National Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).
George Henry Jones was born in Oxford on February 2, 1849. He was one of six children of Orrin and Phoebe (Garcelon) Jones. As a young man, he gained employment at a Lewiston textile mill in an effort to contribute to the support of his family at the tender age of thirteen. At age 14, he attempted to enlist into the volunteer service but was rejected. In his persistence to serve his country, young George finally succeeded in enlisting on April 7, 1865, along with his brother James. George listed his age as 18 but was, in fact, 16.
George H. Jones was assigned to Capt. Samuel Wardwell's 27th Company of Infantry (Unassigned), Maine Volunteers. Although mustered in as a private, he served as a musician in a band formed at Camp Keyes, Augusta, with his brother as band leader. As the war was coming to a close and recruitments stopped, Private Jones and the rest of his unassigned company were discharged in Augusta on May 13, 1865, after one month's service.
Following the war, Jones first worked as a mill overseer in his father's woolen mill, but in 1871, after the death of Oxford's only druggist, he bought and learned that business. He was the community's pharmacist until he retired in 1936, at which time he was Maine's oldest active druggist. He had served as treasurer of the Town of Oxford and led the Methodist Church choir for thirty years. He also raised and raced light harness horses and was an ardent angler and hunter.
George Jones was married to Charlotte Augusta Chadbourne in 1873. They had no children. His wife passed away in 1920.
Comrade Jones became active in GAR circles as a member of T.A. Roberts Post 49, Oxford, where he first served as Post Commander in 1893. He was one of the fourteen Union veterans from Maine to attend the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1938. He served as Maine Department Commander during 1940-1941 and again in 1945-1946. On September 24, 1943, he was elected Commander-in-Chief at the 77th National Encampment of the GAR held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Unfortunately Commander-in-Chief Jones was plagued by illness during his term. First he had to remain in Milwaukee a few extra days because of a heavy cold. Back home he was persuaded to give up boarding in Oxford for a private room overlooking the park in the Veterans Administration Hospital at Togus (the nation's first) so his health could be monitored. He spent the winter comfortably at this location. By spring his health had improved enough to attend the State Encampments of the Departments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire as well as Memorial Day activities in Oxford and Portland. But on May 31, Commander-in-Chief Jones was rushed to Togus for emergency surgery and missed the Maine Encampment in Augusta. He was, however, in attendance at the 78th National Encampment held in Des Moines, Iowa, where he presided over the twenty Comrades present.
His remaining years were spent at Togus, and he continued to stay active with the ever-shrinking Department of Maine, GAR, as the Department's Assistant Adjutant-General.
Past Commander-in-Chief George Jones died at Togus on August 19, 1946, at the age of 97. He was the sole surviving Comrade of Post 49 and Maine's third to last living Civil War veteran. He was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Oxford, with full military honors.
The Department of Maine, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, has provided by By-Law that the grave of George H. Jones shall be decorated each Memorial Day.
Eric Boothroyd, P.C.C., Department Historian
Department of Maine, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Daily Kennebec Journal, August 20, 1946
Hoar, Jay S., 1976. New England's Last Civil War Veterans, Seacliff Press, Arlington, Texas
Maine Adjutant-General's Report, 1865