Grand Army of the Republic
John Reese
Commander-in-Chief 1928 / 1929

John Reese was born in Clark County, Ohio, December 23, 1845. His father passed away when he was three years old. He lived with his mother and stepfather until the age of eleven when he was hired out to a neighbor; then at the age of twelve, he went to work at a wool mill, working in the summer and going to school in the winter.


When the war broke out in 1861, and in August, 1862, he enlisted at the age of sixteen in Company A, 113th Ohio Infantry. After serving one year, his health failed and he was discharged for disability.


After returning home he attended school for two years and then engaged in the wool manufacturing business. He was married and to this marriage was born three daughters. Because of failing health he gave up the wool manufacturing business and moved to Bellefontaine, Ohio where he read law under Judge William Lawrence, and was admitted to the bar in 1882. He was elected mayor of Bellefontaine for two terms.


In 1886 he moved to Callaway, Custer County, Nebraska where he practiced law for one year. In 1887 he was elected county judge of Custer County and moved to Broken Bow, with his three daughters.


In 1890, the United States land office was established and opened for business on July 1, 1890, with Judge Reese as register, appointed by President Harrison. He served one term and when the administration changed, he returned to his law practice, until 1903, when he was appointed by President Roosevelt and again to the land office, and was reappoint by President Taft. He served in that position continuously thirteen years and in all for eighteen years, serving under Democratic presidents Cleveland and Wilson. During that time in 1900, he served as Commander of  the Grand Army of the Republic in Nebraska.


After expiration of his official career, he went to his home on a sheep ranch, which he had been building for a number of years and was the largest in the county. He was remarried in 1917, and in 1928 he became Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. His wife was active in the Woman’s Relief Corps. He was active in the Republican party and a Mason for fifty years. He passed away on the 5th of January, 1935, and buried in the Evergreen Cemetery, Beatrice, Nebraska.


Source: History of Custer County, Nebraska


Submitted by:

Merle Rudebusch

Past Department Commander

Department of Nebraska

March 2008

Picture submitted by: George G. Kane
July 2001

Return to SUVCW Home Page
Return to SUVCW Web Site Index

Return to GAR and Related Links Research Page
Return to Listing of GAR Commanders-in-Chief