Grand Army of the Republic
John C. Adams
Department Commander 1946 - 1948

Indiana's Last Union Civil War Veteran

John Christian Adams was born August 17, 1847 at Romney, Hampshire County, Virginia, now West Virginia to Andrew J. and Caroline M. Adams.  At the age of 17, Adams joined the 17th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, Co. C, as a drummer boy for the Union forces.  He was mustered in on August 31, 1864, and mustered out on June 30, 1865.  He served 10 months.  Although not called upon to participate in any of the important battles of the Civil War, he was detailed to carry on the more hazardous guerilla warfare against scattered Confederate soldiers.

On April 11, 1876, he married Anna Eliza Masters, and they were the parents of four children: Ella B., Edward B., Anna M., and Caroline M.  John and his family lived in West Virginia, probably in the Wheeling area, until sometime after 1880 when they moved to Grant County Indiana (1880, 1900 census).  For many years, Mr. Adams worked at the U.S. Glass Company, in Gas City, Indiana as manager of the shipping department.

John was a member of the Magnolia GAR Post No. 409 in Jonesboro, Grant County Indiana and served as Department of Indiana Commander from 1946-1948.  In September 1948, at the 82nd National Encampment in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mr. Adams was elected National Assistant Adjutant General and Assistant Quartermaster General.  All of these positions he held until his death.

John C. Adams passed away on February 17, 1949, in Jonesboro, Indiana at the age of 101 years, and 6 months.  Services were held on Sunday, February 20, 1949, at the Jonesboro Presbyterian Church, where he had been a member for 40 years and where he had held the title of Elder Emeritus. Upon his death, President Harry S. Truman sent a wreath.  John Adams was laid to rest in Riverside Cemetery, Grant County, Gas City, Indiana.

Special thanks to the following for their assistance in the compilation of this biography: Allen W. Moore (PC-in-C), Alan Teller (PDC), Stephen Bruce Bauer (PCC), Monica Middleton, and Barbara Middleton.

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JOHN C. ADAMS - GAR

A letter from Mary Ann Byrd
Hendersonville, North Carolina
July 10, 2006

This is John C. Adams, the last Civil War soldier to die in the state of Indiana. He was photographed here (holding a large wreath) with my Great Uncle, Fred C. Cline. They were standing on the 10th Street Bridge over the Mississinewa River, which flows between Jonesboro and Gas City. The Memorial Day parade always went from Jonesboro to Gas City where a ceremony was held very close to the spot where Mr. Adams is now buried. In this photo they are about to cast their wreaths in the water in memory of the soldiers and sailors of all wars. My uncle was representing Sons of the GAR Veterans (a member of the SUVCW).

As long as I can remember, Mr. Adams performed this service in the Memorial Day parade and my Grandfather (Frank Seiherling) drove the car he rode in. The Boy and Girl Scouts marched as an honor guard. The year this photo was taken I was part of the Girl Scout Honor Guard but we were not in the picture. I think the picture was in the early 1940ís.

In nice weather, Mr. Adams always sat on the front porch of his home on North Main Street and all of the kids going and coming from school liked to stop and say a few words to him. When he died, the tiny town of Jonesboro was filled with dignitaries from all over the state.

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John C Adams Honored with a Plaque on his Grave
Dedication Ceremony was Conducted on May 21, 2006

Newspaper Article Reprinted from the Grant County, IN Chronicle-Tribune

Article published May 22, 2006

Re-enactors happy to be blue
Sons of the Civil War honor county's last veteran, advance local history

BY KATIE ALBRIGHT 
kalbright@marion.gannett.com 

An American flag flew freely in the warm spring breeze beside the grave of Pvt. John Christian Adams during a memorial Sunday for the last Union Civil War soldier from the county to die.

A color guard of the Sons of Veterans Reserve and the Marine Corps League of Marion stood in recognition of the soldier who died in 1949 at 101 years old.

Fife selections, a recitation of The Gettysburg Address and people dressed in attire from the Civil War era all were part of the dedication of a former Jonesboro resident who risked his life to give others freedom.

"I'd like to welcome you all here today to present a bronze plaque in honor of John C. Adams," said Thomas Crawford Jr., past department commander for Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

This organization is formed from the male decedants of those who fought to end slavery, Crawford said.

"I am proud to have two great-grandfathers in the Civil War, and I am proud of the fact that we can honor a Grant County resident who was the last Union soldier and possibly the last living Union soldier in Indiana," he said.

Crawford said Allen Moore, member of Sons, who was instrumental in putting the memorial together, looked high and low for Adams' family to come pay tribute at the memorial.

"He was unsuccessful," Crawford said.

But then he then pointed out an audience member who was grinning.

"Lo and behold, one showed up," Crawford said.

Barbara J. Middleton, Greentown, the grand-niece of Adams, was present at the dedication Sunday, but she said, it wasn't easy.

"I had a terribly hard time finding out about this," Middleton said after the ceremony. "No one knew I existed."

Middleton said her husband had heard an announcement on WWKI-100.5 FM about the memorial.

"I called the radio station four times on Friday, trying to find something out," she said.

Middleton finally used the Internet to lead her to information and contacts regarding the memorial.

She said she had attended the funeral when she was 15 years old and had not been back to Gas City again until today.

"I was just so happy to hear about this," she said. "It was a really neat presentation."

Dick Winger, resident of Sweetser and member of Sons, said a ceremony is conducted every year the Sunday before Memorial Day at Estates of Serenity cemetery. Winger's great-great grandfather, Samuel Bechtel, fought in the Civil War and was captured by the Confederates.

He said the celebration always is continued at the site of Adams' grave, and that he was glad to see the plaque dedicated to an influential resident who deserved to be remembered.

"This was a very important tribute," Winger said. He looked at Middleton and smiled.

"You have a very famous relative," he said with a chuckle. 

 


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