Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

December 4, 2012

The last soldiers

Greensburg — Friday is Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7.

On that day, we remember the three Decatur County men that died Dec. 7, 1941, and of course, we remember those who are serving our country now. Before we get into this week’s column about veterans, I’ll tell you that several of us went to Rushville to hear the Rush County Chorale Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon.

The singers were nothing short of magnificent. Other members from our county may be members of the chorale but Scott Wildey, owner of our Ponderosa, sings tenor in it and is president of the singers.

Marc Haston posted on Facebook last week that Irene Davey, the oldest female World War II veteran in Massachusetts, had died at age 104 years. Frank Buckles, the last World War I veteran, died last year. Being the last veteran of any war is probably not on anyone’s list of things to do but we do acknowledge the passing, maybe because it is our last link with a particular historic era. I wondered if records were kept that would tell us about the last veteran of all of our wars -  up to World War II of course.

In the book “Lest We Forget,” researched by Bill Ford and published by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5584, there is a poem titled “The Last Old Soldier.”

The author is unknown but it was at a time when Civil War veterans were dying.  The following are the first and last verses of the eight verse poem: “Say, boys, have you heard what the newspapers say?  One hundred and fifty old soldiers a day – Footsore and weary, have dropped at last, Back on the road where the column has passed. / At last but a company, then a platoon – a few stragglers left; then soon, ah, too soon – We will read this small item: ‘The news comes today that the last old soldier has just passed away.’”

Using the government pension records is the best way to discover the last survivor of a war. The Revolutionary War veterans buried in Decatur County, that I found, died during the 1830s or 1840s. Daniel Bakeman claimed to be a veteran of the Revolution and was awarded a pension by Congress but there was no proof that he served. John Gray’s service was verified but his service was too short for a pension. The last official Revolutionary War veteran was Lemuel Cook from New York who died in May 1866 at age 107. He was buried with military honors. He was the Last Full Pensioner in the Government records the last year of his life.

When Hiram Cronk died in 1905 at age 105 he was the last veteran of the War of 1812. Born in 1800 when John Adams was president he lived all of the 19th century as the United States became a world leader and a rich country.

The last veteran of the Mexican War was Owen Thomas Edgar who died in 1929 at age 98. Born in Philadelphia, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February 1846 and served until August 1849. Edgar saw service on the frigates Potomac, Allegheny, Pennsylvania and Experience.

The records for the Civil War are probably not accurate because many of the Confederate Army’s records were  destroyed, lost or simply not kept. Albert Henry Woolson was the last member of the Union Army and the last surviving Civil War veteran on either side whose status is undisputed. He died in 1956 at age 109.

Walter Williams has been cited as the last survivor of the Confederate Army. He died December 1959 at 117 years old. His claim, has been questioned or debunked. Probably the last was James Albert Hard who died in 1953 at age 110. Part of the problem may be that some veterans of the war couldn’t read or write and didn’t know they could apply for pensions.

Fredrak Fraske was the last veteran of the Indian Wars. He died in 1973 at age 101. He entered the service in 1894, 17th Infantry, and served three years. He was born in Germany and came to America in 1877. He said his only encounter with western Indians ended with no shots being fired.

Jones Morgan was the last Spanish American War veteran. He was an African American who died in Virginia in 1992 at age 110. Sam Evans, also an African American who fought in the Spanish American War, is buried in South Park Cemetery.

Last year, the last survivor of World War I died. Frank Buckles served in that war and was a civilian working in the Philippines when he was taken prisoner during World War II.

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Pat Smith: A reader's special note Before beginning this week’s column it must be stressed that I love getting emails from readers, love getting telephone calls from readers and love seeing readers when I’m out and about – especially those who very generously tell me that they read th

    July 24, 2014

  • Spaulding Outdoors: The Inside on Indiana's Outside Early Migratory Bird 2014 Season Dates The 2014 early migratory bird season dates have been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Indiana DNR as listed below. The dates are not final until the USFWS approves them, which typically hap

    July 24, 2014

  • Why incumbents get reelected Incumbents are masters at posing as outsiders, when in fact they are insiders who produce the Congress they disdain. It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its

    July 24, 2014

  • Lessons from the largely forgotten war As we approach the official date on which the First World War started, July 28, 1914, when the first shots were fired by the Austro-Hungarians who invaded Serbia, it’s appropriate to think about the lessons that catastrophic event has taught us one h

    July 24, 2014

  • Protecting Indiana's agricultural heritage With the 4-H fairs in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about agriculture. Since Indiana became a state back in 1816, agriculture has played a vital role in our livelihood. For those who are not from Indiana, our state is practica

    July 22, 2014

  • Improving Indiana's infrastructure It is always a happy time when my family visits, especially to celebrate a wedding. I recently played hostess for my niece and her wedding party when she was looking for somewhere to hold her rehearsal dinner. I absolutely enjoy when family comes to

    July 22, 2014

  • Shining a light on the Federal Reserve If you are like most Americans, you probably have heard of the Federal Reserve. But, you may not know much about what the Fed actually does or the very real ways its decisions impact your day-to-day life. The Federal Reserve was founded by Congress i

    July 22, 2014

  • Expiring term heightens the urgency of lawmaker's mission INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrant

    July 22, 2014

  • fea-gb072214 Spaulding column jpg Spaulding Outdoors: The inside on Indiana's outside Free beginner waterfowl hunting workshopsTwo free waterfowl hunting workshops for beginners will be offered in August and September by the Department of Natural Resources. The focus of the workshops is on hunting Canada geese, although there will be

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thankful for our veterans' sacrifice On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, giving birth to a new nation. To Great Britain and the rest of the world, the U.S. proclaimed itself the proud home of free people. Since that day, on more than one occasion, this freedom h

    July 17, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.