Grand Army of the Republic
Gilbert R. Stormont
Department Commander 1890


Biographical Sketch of Gilbert R. Stormont

Source: History of Gibson County, Her People, Industries, and Institutions, 
By Gil R. Stormont, B. F. Bowen & Co., Indianapolis, IN, 1914.  pp 394-397


Gilbert R. Stormont was born (1843) in Gibson county, about four miles cast of Princeton. His father was William Stormont, who came with the Stormont family from South Carolina in 1832, and his ancestry is given in detail in the history of the Stormont family in another place in this volume. His mother was Elvira Louisa Carithers, a daughter of Andrew Carithers, who came from Lincoln county, Tennessee, in 1836. His mother died in 1852; her sister, who married James Stormont, died in 1877; a brother, Andrew J. Carithers, died at his home near Princeton in 1893; another sister, Mrs. John Dunlap, of Chicago, is the only one of the Andrew Carithers family now living.

The early boyhood life of the subject of this sketch was spent on the farm, and he contributed a boy's part to the work incident to farm life. His advent was at a time when most of the neighborhood in which he lived was in the native forest, and the changing of this forest into cultivated fields required much hard labor on the part of the head of the family, and all the boys who were available for service. About the time he got big enough to make a full hand on the farm the Civil war came, and, following the example of nearly all the boys and able-bodied men of the neighborhood, he enlisted in the army. His enlistment was in Company B, Fifty-eighth Indiana Infantry, dated October 1, 1861, organized in Princeton. The regiment left the organization camp for the front December 13, 1861. The subject of this sketch followed the fortunes of this regiment until the expiration of his term of service, November 12, 1864, participating in the battles of Stone's River, Chickamauga, and a number of other engagements.

The opportunities for education were limited in the early life of this subject, but the opportunity was not altogether lacking. There was the district school, in the old log school house at the foot of that big hill near the Makemson home, where "lickin' and larnin'" was carried on in a spasmodic sort of a way for two or three months in the year; then there were other schools of more modem methods in the neighborhood later on. The teachers in these schools, as a rule, didn't know much, but educational qualification was not the most essential requirement for a school teacher in those days. Whatever education the subject of this sketch acquired was obtained in these schools and in the more advanced schools in Princeton, and in the Indiana University, which he attended after his army service.

Mr. Stormont was engaged in teaching for awhile, but it is not necessary for the reader to make any deductions as to qualifications from the foregoing paragraph. His first experience in that line of work was in a district school down near the old reservoir, hard by the limpid water where the frogs rendered grand opera, by day and by night; one term in Oakland City, when that town had Mayhugh's hotel, two stores and a blacksmith shop; one year in the old Seminary, in Princeton, where the hogs were wont to hold stated meetings under the floor, and engage in noisy dispute for favorite place, and where the fleas roamed at will throughout the building; two years in the Princeton graded school in the new building, with D. Eckley Hunter as superintendent. Then he got into the newspaper game. He went to Albion, Illinois, in 1873, and bought an old pile of junk and converted it into a newspaper outfit with which the Albion Journal was founded. This venture, though at first it did not appear very promising, proved to be a financial success. After three years Mr. Stormont sold the Journal plant and returned to Princeton, and, in 1877, he bought the Princeton Clarion, which he continued to publish for nearly twenty-five years. If there is any marked distinction or creditable record made in his life work it will probably be conceded that it was made while editor and publisher of the Clarion. Anyhow, this record, whether creditable or otherwise, remains open for inspection and review. The files of the Clarion are in the public library in Princeton, and are in constant use by those seeking information of past events. In addition to his newspaper work, Mr. Stormont has engaged in other work of literary character. His name appears as the author, compiler and publisher of several books and pamphlets of historical character, the most important of which is "Hight's History of the Fifty-eighth Indiana Regiment."

The political affiliation of the subject of this sketch is with the Republican party. His first vote for President was cast for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. His last was for William Howard Taft. He was a delegate to the Republican national convention, in 1884, that nominated James G. Blaine and Gen. John A. Logan. He was presidential elector for the first district of Indiana and cast one of Indiana's fifteen votes for Theodore Roosevelt and Charles Warren Fairbanks for President and Vice-President. As census supervisor, in 1880, he had supervision of the census enumeration in fourteen counties in the southern part of the state. He was deputy collector of internal revenue, in the Evansville district, in 1899-90, under Judge Henry, collector, at Terre Haute. Resigning that position, he accepted an unsolicited appointment as commandant of the Indiana State Soldiers' Home, at Lafayette, continuing in that service for nearly four years. Resigning that position, he returned to his home in Princeton, and soon after was again appointed to the revenue service. This appointment was in the special revenue service, with headquarters at Cincinnati, in a district comprising Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. In 1908 he was transferred to Indianapolis, and later was assigned to the duty of division deputy collector, with headquarters at Terre Haute. On account of the political upheaval of 1912 his connection with the revenue service ceased May 1, 1914, his brand of politics not being in accord with that prevailing n Washington. That it was not because of inefficiency, is evidenced by the following testimonial from his chief accompanying his discharge from the service: "In this connection I desire to acknowledge the good service you have rendered as deputy, and to testify to your fidelity and fitness as an official in the United States revenue department."

Mr. Stormont has been a member of the Grand Army of the Republic since its organization as a national order in 1868. He is a charter member of Archer Post, Princeton, and served as department commander of Indiana in 1890-91. With few exceptions, he has attended all the national and department encampments since the organization of the order.

Mr. Stormont was married to Kate Keys, in Princeton, March 16, 1870. They are members of the United Presbyterian church. The children living are Harry K., who married Eunice Heston, their son, Lowell Heston, living at Indianapolis. Ralph M., who married Mary Genung, living in Oakland City. Donald M., who married Pearl Murphy, their daughter, Margaret Catherine, living in Princeton.

(PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The publishers of this work take the privilege of adding a few words to the above sketch, to say that Mr. Stormont has for many years been numbered among the leading citizens of Gibson county, and is a worthy representative of a family which, from the pioneer period, has been closely identified with the history of this section of the state. The family has been characterized by personal courage, love of justice, intense loyalty and sturdy integrity, qualities which will make any people great. These same qualities have been exemplified in the subject of this review, who, as soldier, editor, public official and private citizen, has stood firmly for those things which are right and which have tended to advance the general welfare of the community. He has thus rightfully earned the position generally accorded him as one of the representative men of his county.)

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EXCEPTIONAL SOLID GOLD INDIANA GAR PRESENTATION BADGE

This exceptionally rare and historic GAR presentation medal was presented to Gil R. Stormont, of Princeton, Indiana in appreciation for his efforts as Department Commander in 1891. Composed of five parts, all in precious metal and set with nine diamonds. From the top: eagle and cannons in gold, with inset garnet eyes for eagle; commander bar of gold with black enamel inset, with two silver stars, each set with a diamond; hanging from the center of the bar is a gold pendant featuring the Corps of Engineers Castle, a ribbon engraved, "Army of the Cumberland", two crossed oars and an anchor, representing the Pontoon Brigade of the 58th Indiana; a star-shaped pendant with enameled blue background inset with a white triangle, and a red, three dimensional acorn, representing the three corps comprising the Army of the Cumberland; finally the GAR star in gold, each point inset with a diamond. The reverse of the star is engraved "Presented by the 12th Annual Encampment, Department of Indiana, held at Indianapolis, April 9th-10th, 1891 to Gil R. Stormont Department Commander 1890."

According to the documentation accompanying the medal the gold comprising the eagle hanger and star (presumably the smaller pendant) are made of gold found in Brown County, Indiana deposits. The history of this badge is apparently well documented in speeches made at the time by Indiana Governor Ira Chase, and others.

 

Note: This badge has apparently changed hands a few times over the past several years.  It sold at auction in 2002 for $3,500.

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Submitted by Tim Beckman


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