Last Civil War Soldier of Howard County Indiana
Last Survivor of Civil War Answers Taps
Gordon Williams Goes at Dawn to Final Rendezvous
At Last Howard County’s long dimming “line of blue” has faded out-faded out forever.
It was at 4:45 o’clock Friday morning, approaching the time for reveille. The call that came, however, was not reveille, but taps.
After all though, it was reveille-the reveille that announces the dawn of the eternal morning.
The foregoing sentences are but a figurative way of saying that Howard county’s last Civil War soldier is dead.
At the hour mentioned, Gordon Williams, age 95, last survivor in Howard county of actual participants in the mighty conflict between the sections, died at his home, 209 West Broadway.
For the last two months the veteran had been confined to his home, and most of the time to his bed. He was not in pain and he felt no particular illness. He was simply old and enfeebled. Vital forces were ebbing toward their end.
Tranquil To the End
Clear in mind and gallant in spirit, the old warrior composed himself for the closing scene. He issued instructions to family and friends then quietly and patiently awaited the end. Very serenely, very dutifully, he lingered for his last orders. When they came, he was ready. He died, as becomes a soldier, with dignity.
It was this man’s experience to pass his last days of life far from the picturesque environment of his birth and boyhood. He was born near Scranton, Pa., March 5, 1848. There, among the hills and valleys that haunted his memory to the last, he spent his earlier years.
In 1863, when he was still a boy, in measurement of time, but already a man in stature, he found it impossible longer to resist the shrilling fifes and throbbing drums of the Civil War recruiting corps. He felt he was needed and he went. The boy who was but a bit past fifteen enlisted. He signed the muster roll in Philadelphia, and from that moment until the war was over, was in service.
A Farmer in the West
Returning to pursuits of peace, he resolved to go west-to go west and engage in farming. He went to Missouri, married there, acquired a farm and followed husbandry until 25 years ago, when he came to Indiana, purchased a farm near Windfall and installed himself and family thereon. There, after a little while, he went to Tipton.
About seven years ago, when he found himself the only surviving Civil War soldier left in Tipton, he came to Kokomo, where a few veterans still survived. He wanted their companionship. There were only a half dozen of them. He fitted into the squad fine. He was destined to outlive all of the others.
Five years ago, in his West Broadway home, he married Mrs. Lillie Wilson of this city, who companioned him with devotion through the days that came afterward, and who survives him. Surviving also are two sons, Jesse Williams of Converse and Henry Williams of Tipton, and one daughter, Mrs. Maude Moore of Baker, Oregon, children by his first marriage. The body now reposes in the Mast & Ware funeral home in Greentown. A military funeral will be held there at 2:30 o’clock Sunday afternoon, with the American Legion in charge and furnishing pallbearers and firing squad. Daughters of Union Veterans and other patriotic societies will attend.
It was the desire of Mr. Williams that there be no flowers at his final rites, and in conformity with that wish the family suggest that friends omit floral tokens.
The committal service will take place in the Albright cemetery, where Mr. Williams has owned a lot for several years and where his first wife is buried. Out there, late Sunday afternoon, the grieving bugle and the smoking gun will speak the last goodbye.
In such fashion, the last Civil War figure in Howard county will go to final rendezvous. So comes sunset to a great and gallant generation. Theirs is a deathless memory and an enduring glory.
Submitted by Alan Teller, PDC and Tom Crawford, PDC
Group Honors County's Last Union Veteran
Source: Kokomo Tribune online http://www.kokomotribune.com/local/local_story_161224310.html
Published: June 10, 2007 10:43 pm
By MEGHAN DURBAK
Tribune staff writer
— Gordon Williams was a scrawny 15-year-old boy from Pennsylvania. He was 5 foot, 4 inches tall and barely weighed 100 pounds.
But Williams was determined to join his brothers in the war to preserve the union. The year was 1863. After receiving special permission from his father, Williams joined the Union Army. Due to his slight stature, he was deemed unfit for battle
Nevertheless, he saw his share of battle scars as he worked with the medical unit until the Civil War came to an end.
Later in life, that scrawny boy from Pennsylvania would become an important figure in Howard County as he would be the last surviving Union veteran, dying in 1943. On Sunday, the Orlando A. Somers Camp 1 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War honored Williams’ memory by placing a bronze memorial plaque at his gravesite in Albright Cemetery.
“Gordon Williams is just a symbol of all Union members,” said Tom Crawford, past camp commander for the Sons of Union Veterans. He explained the memorial was part of a national effort asking members of each county in each state to mark the grave site of their last Union soldier.
They were the soldiers who ended America’s hypocrisy, he said. Before the Civil War, Crawford believed the nation was untrue to the Declaration of Independence which states “All men are created equal.” Crawford said that would change when the slaves were freed upon Union victory.
“As a nation, it was the time that we would live up to our promise and principles,” he said.
Crawford and his organization honored Williams, the 1,000 men from Howard County who enlisted in the Civil War and all Union soldiers by playing “Taps,” the posting of the American flag by two men dressed as Union soldiers and a reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Crawford said his organization honors Civil War soldiers in part, because their own ancestors served, but most importantly because of their accomplishments.
After the war, he headed west to Missouri before later spending the last 25 years of his life in Indiana. Williams was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was made up of Union veterans. In 1936 he came to Kokomo to be with the remaining Civil War veterans and GAR members, before they all passed on.
“The GAR boys were very proud of fighting to save the Union. They were quite a power to be reckoned with,” Crawford said, likening them to present day American Legion or Veterans of Foreign War.
Later in life, Crawford said, the Sons of the Union Veterans of Civil War would be formed to ensure the Union veterans wouldn’t be forgotten.
Tom Crawford, PDC, right, with Larry Myer and Alan Teller, PDC, back,
during Last Soldier Ceremony for Gordon Williams
(Kokomo Tribune photo by Shawn Knapp)
Plaque placed next to the headstone of Gordon Williams
(Kokomo Tribune photo by Shawn Knapp)
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