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The William Archer Post No. 28
Grand Army of the Republic, Princeton, IN
1880-1939

 

The History of GAR Post # 28:

Source: History of Gibson County, Her People, Industries and Institutions, by Gil R. Stormont.   B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc., 1915.  pp 248-255.

Application was made to Gen. James R. Carnahan, then the department commander, for a charter, which was promptly granted, and an order given to Major A. C. Rosencrans, of Evansville, to muster the post at the convenience of both parties.

Accordingly, on the night of January 13, 1883, Major Rosencrans, with a number of comrades from Farragut Post, Evansville, came to Princeton and organized the post with the following charter members: Byron Mills, Gil. R. Stormont, James J. Hartin, Theodore M. Bucklin, Silas M. Holcomb, Samuel J. Wallace, James A. Sprowl, John E. Spencer, Samuel Sterne, Francis M. Grigsby, Solomon Vannada, John Turnage, Albert Mills, Henry L. Chambers, Joseph R. Ashmead, Alex. H. Anderson, William A. Munford, D. Hamilton Turner, William J. Cameron, Samuel S. Shannon, Renwick C. Woods, James A. Mowery, Alex. N. Devin, Joseph C. Hartin, Andrew J. Carithers, Pressly R. Baldridge, John J. Hollis, B. Frank Taylor, Joseph D. McClure, A. D. Green, William M. Duncan, William B. Whitsett.

The objects of the Grand Army, as set forth in its constitution and fully subscribed to by the charter members of this post and all who have since become members, are:

First. To preserve and strengthen those kind and fraternal feelings which bind together the soldiers, sailors and marines, who united to suppress the Rebellion.

Second. To assist such former comrades in arms as need help and protection, and to extend needful aid to the widows and orphans of those who have fallen.

Third. To maintain true allegiance to the United States of America, based upon a paramount respect for and fidelity to the national constitution and the laws; to discountenance whatever tends to weaken loyalty, incites to insurrection, treason or rebellion, or in any way impairs the efficiency and permanency of our free institutions; and to encourage the spread of universal liberty, equal rights and justice to all men.

Officers were elected at this meeting and other necessary action taken for a permanent organization. The post was numbered 28, the same as the number of the former post, and chose for its name and designation Archer Post No. 28, Department of Indiana, Grand Army of the Republic.

The selection of the name of Archer Post was most appropriate and commendable. William Archer, after whom the post was named, was one of the many young men of Gibson county who responded to the call of their country in the early period of the Civil war. He enlisted as a private in Company A, Eightieth Indiana Regiment, and was soon promoted to first lieutenant of his company. He participated in all the battles and skirmishes in which his regiment was engaged during the years 1862 and 1863, and was killed in the line of duty at the battle of Resaca, May 14, 1864. His patriotism and courage were conspicuous and his example as a soldier was worthy of the highest commendation.

In the manner of William Archer's death the cardinal principles of the Grand Army are most strikingly exemplified. The command to which his regiment belonged had just made a very disastrous assault on the Confederate works before Resaca and was compelled to retire to a place of shelter from the enemy's murderous fire. Immediately in front of Archer's regiment a comrade of his company was lying seriously wounded and piteously crying for water. Archer could not resist the call of his suffering comrade and at the risk of his own life went to him with water. It was a fatal mission. A deadly minie ball from the enemy's lines pierced his body and in a few moments he was numbered with the heroic dead that lay upon the bloody battlefield of Resaca. Thus he exemplified in his life and in his death the noble virtues of fraternity, charity and loyalty, the broad foundation stone upon which the order rests. This post honored his memory and honored itself when it chose for its official title and inscribed upon its banner the name, "Archer Post".

The officers of the post who served during the first year were: Gil. R. Stormont, post commander; Joseph R. Ashmead, senior vice-commander; W. J. Cameron, junior vice-commander; W. M. Duncan, quartermaster; Rev. M. M. C. Hobbs, chaplain; Henry P. Chambers, officer of the day; John Turnage, officer of the guard; J. C. Hartin, adjutant; Alex N. Devin, sergeant-major; Sol. Vannada, quartermaster-sergeant.

During the first year after organization a large number of applications for membership were received and the muster-in service was a very prominent feature of the regular meetings. The membership of the post was increased that year to something near one hundred. The same year posts were established at Fort Branch, Patoka, Oakland City and other places in the county.

The first Memorial day observance under the auspices of Archer Post was a notable one, notwithstanding the rain storm that prevailed during the entire day. An elaborate program had been prepared and every arrangement made to set a high mark for the proper observance of the day. With a few exceptions, these arrangements were carried out in spite of the rain and the observance of this day was a marked success. And this may be said of all the Memorial days since that time, whether in rain or in sunshine, the graves of soldiers in all adjoining cemeteries have had a tribute of flowers from the hands of members of Archer Post.

A brief mention of some of the incidents pertaining to the history of the post since its organization will be of interest:

At a special meeting of the post, May 14, 1883, a flag was presented to the Post by William Archer, on behalf of his father, after whom the post was named. This was on the anniversary of the day on which the father was killed at Resaca.

The first death in the post was that of James Anderson, of the Eightieth Indiana, which occurred in November, 1883. The post attended his funeral in a body and conducted the first ritual exercises at the grave. At the request of Comrade Anderson before his death, John Ayers, the color bearer of his regiment, attended the funeral and carried the post flag. In December of this same year the second death in the post occurred, that of Hugh Daugherty, who was also a member of the Eightieth Indiana.

It seems that the usual rain did not occur on Memorial day, 1884, and the exercises of the day were carried out without interference of weather. There was a large procession to the cemetery, headed by the Princeton band and the Post drum corps. Rev. M. M. C. Hobbs was the principal speaker at the exercises in the courthouse yard.

On the evening of May 15, 1885, a meeting was held in the post hall in commemoration of the battle of Resaca. At this meeting addresses appropriate to the occasion were made by Capt. Vesper Dorneck, Capt. J. S. Epperson, George W. Hill, H. Clay Wilkinson and Dr. W. P. Welborn.

At a meeting of the post in July, 1885, there was presented a gavel made from the limb of a pine tree near Jonesboro, Georgia. This tree was used as a signal station by the signal corps of Sherman's army at the time of the battle there. The wood from which the gavel was made was procured by Samuel Reavis while on a visit to the battlefield, and the presentation was made by Captain Dorneck. In accepting the gavel, the post commander assured the donor that it would be sacredly kept and used while the post maintained its existence. As it turned out, this assurance was a wrong guess. In less than one year from that time the post hall and all its contents, including this gavel, were destroyed by fire, but the post has continued to exist.

In August, 1885, the memorial meeting in honor of Gen. U. S. Grant, held in the United Presbyterian church, was a notable event. It was the largest assemblage of the kind ever held in the town. The exercises were under the auspices of the Grand Army and were appropriate to the occasion.

On January 13, 1887, a memorial service was held in the post hall in honor of Gen. John A. Logan. The principal addresses were made by M. W. Fields, A. P. Twineham and Rev. J. E. Jenkins.

On February 3, 1887, a camp fire was held in the post hall, at which General Shackelford, of Evansville, gave an account of the pursuit and capture of John Morgan, which was participated in by Shackelford.

In the month of January, 1886, the post met with a serious disaster in the loss of its hall and all the contents by fire. This loss included all the records of the post, the furniture and equipments of the hall, the drums belonging to the post and about fifty stand of arms. But this disaster did not discourage the members. Another meeting place was secured until arrangement could be made for permanent quarters.

At the department encampment, held in Indianapolis, February, 1890, Archer Post was honored by the election of one of its members as department commander. Gil R. Stormont, who brought his honor to the post, was tendered a reception on his return from the encampment. On this occasion the department colors were exhibited for the first time in the post hall, by Henry P. Chambers, who had been appointed color bearer by the newly elected department commander..

The dedication of the new hall, which had been fitted up in the Henry Soller block, was an important event in 1890. This occurred May 15th of that year and the record says the hall was crowded to suffocation on that occasion. Addresses were made by Governor Ira J. Chase, Col. I. N. Walker, of Indianapolis, Mrs. H. M. Caylor, of  Noblesville, department president of the Woman's Relief Corps, and others.

Memorial day, 1891, occurred during the meeting of the United Presbyterian assembly in Princeton, and the public exercises of the day were marked by some very able addresses made by delegates in attendance.

Another incident of note in this year was the presentation of a diamond badge to Past Department Commander, Gil R. Stormont (Web Author Note: Gil Stormont was a member of the 58th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Co. B), by a committee appointed by the department encampment for that purpose (See Picture and Note Below). This event took place in the post hall, under the auspices of the post, June 15th, and the presentation was made by Governor Ira J. Chase. Other members of the committee who were present and made addresses were Col. I. N. Walker, then department commander; Major Charles M. Travis, a past department commander; Major Irvin Robbins, of Indianapolis; Ben Starr, of Richmond, and others from Evansville.

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Note from Web Host: See below for recent pictures of this badge.

     
This badge was auctioned off on Ebay on 5/10/02 for $3,500!!  The badge was described on Ebay as follows:

EXCEPTIONAL SOLID GOLD INDIANA GAR PRESENTATION BADGE. 

An exceptionally rare and historic GAR presentation medal presented to Gil R. Stormont, of Princeton, Indiana in appreciation for his efforts as Department Commander for 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 at a meeting held in Princeton, Indiana in June 1891. An exceptional GAR and Indiana rarity. EXC .

End of Note
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The following is a list of the post commanders of Archer Post since the organization and the years in which they served:

Gil. R. Stormont:  1883, 1885, 1898
Henry P. Chambers:  1884, 1891
James S. Epperson:  1886, 1887, 1893
Vesper Dorneck1888
Solomon Vannada1889
James J. Hartin1890
Joseph C. Hartin1892
Frank Al. Grigsby1894
Henry Al. Lamb1895, 1896
Hugh T. Carlisle1897
Charles C. Whiting1899, 1900, 1901
William M. Duncan1902, 1903
Hugh Hanna1904, 1905
D. Wilson Smith1906
James A. Sprowl1907
John M. Stormont1908, 1909
Joseph K. McGary1910
AV. J. Lowe1911
James W. Lewis1912
Arthur P. Twineharn1913
George W. Shopbell1914

For a few years after the organization of the post new members were added to the roll at every meeting, but this increase in membership was offset by those who had come into the order in the early years of its history and had grown indifferent and had allowed themselves to become delinquent in dues. According to the rules of the order the names of such were dropped from the rolls, and at one time the list of suspended and dropped members was almost as large as the active list. Then, as the years passed, there was a continual depletion of the membership by death. But. notwithstanding these losses, Archer Post has always had a strong guard of the faithful to hold up its banner. It has always held its regular meetings with a fair average attendance, and has always been ready to minister to the wants of needy comrades, and has always been ready to turn out in a body and pay appropriate tribute to comrades who have answered the last roll call. It has always been careful to give proper observance to Memorial day and has commanded the respect and approbation of the community in its conduct and deportment in this and in all other public services.

In the later years there has been a decided revival of interest in the Grand Army, and Archer Post has been affected by this revival. As the years go by, and as the Grand Army seems to be marching with quickened steps toward the place of final encampment, as comrades, one by one, are dropping from the ranks, there is manifested a desire for a closer fellowship and association for those who remain. Those who may have been indifferent as to this association in the earlier period of the Grand Army have come to the belief that there is a reality in the ties that binds comrades one to another. As a result of this belief, Archer Post has had restored to membership all those who had been suspended or dropped, and there has been a large number enrolled of those who have not before sought membership in the order.

On the 13th of January, 1908, Archer Post celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with a free supper to all its members in good standing. At that time it was said the post had a larger membership than it ever had in history; that, with a few exceptions, it had on its rolls all who were eligible to membership within its jurisdiction. Quite a number who participated in the quarter-centennial celebration and rejoiced in the happy conditions and fraternal feeling that prevailed, have since passed to the beyond. The ranks have been thinned by death, but some of the vacant places have been filled with new recruits and the fraternal spirit grows stronger with the passing years.

At the quarter-centennial celebration a camp fire was held in the Kidd opera house, at which an interesting program of exercises was given. Rev. Daniel Ryan, past department commander, made the principal address. There was also an address of historical character by Past Department Commander Stormont, covering the history of the post from its organization. The closing part of this address follows:

"The review of the history of Archer Post for the past quarter of a century, and the present view of its healthy condition, affords occasion for hopefulness and cheer for the future. Certainly there is ground for belief that its days of usefulness are not yet within the shadows of the setting sun.  There is much of strength and vitality in the organization and in the individual membership, and there is still a call to duty and to service. It is a call not only to the duty of aiding needy and distressed comrades, of helping others to bear the burdens of life, but also of teaching by influence and example the principles of right living.

"Amid the smoke and leaden hail of battle conflict the Grand Army set a high standard of patriotism and courage, and when the conflict was ended they received their discharge with the plaudits of the nation which was saved by their valor. Since those days of conflict the Grand Army has not lowered the standard of patriotism and it has continued to receive the approval of a nation redeemed and regenerated.

"The honor of having been a soldier of the Republic is an honor not to be lightly regarded, and it should be the endeavor of each soldier to magnify that honor by living an honorable and upright life as a citizen. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

"Whether the life be long or short, whether for any comrade of the Grand Army present the last roll call shall come this week, or this year, or for many years, let this sentiment be the resolve of each:


"I live for those who love me,
Whose hearts are kind and true,
For the right that lacks assistance,
For the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance,
And the good that I can do."

 



William Archer G.A.R. Post No. 28, Princeton IN - Date Unknown (Can You Identify Any of These Men?)
Picture Courtesy of Phil Pegram



Archer G.A.R. Post No. 28 in Memoriam Ribbon


Obituary of William P. Witherspoon
Source: Princeton Clarion-News, dated Monday, December 11, 1939 (front page, with photo)
Contributed by Georgia McEllhiney

William P. Witherspoon, 91, Civil War Veteran, Dies

William P. Witherspoon, 91, Civil War Veteran, Dies - William P. Witherspoon, age 91 years, last surviving member of Archer Post No. 28, Grand Army of the Republic, died at 1:40 o'clock Sunday afternoon at his home in McKaw Summit, following an illness since July 4.

Only one other Civil war veteran in Gibson county survives. He is Cato Powell, colored, retired farmer living west of Princeton.

Mr. Witherspoon served in Company G of the 143rd Indiana regiment in the Civil war. He was a descendant of John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and president of Princeton university.

Born on the old Witherspoon homestead, north of Princeton, February 11, 1848, Mr. Witherspoon volunterred for service in the Civil war, after which he lived in Illinois for a number of years, returning to Princeton and moving to McKaw Summit about 25 years ago. Until several years ago when he retired, Mr. Witherspoon was interested in farming.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at the late residence, in charge of the Rev. L.A. Harriman, pastor of the First Presbyterian church, of which he was a member. Burial will be in Maple Hills cemetery, Princeton Post No. 25, American Legion, will have charge of the services at the grave. The remains are at the home in McKaw Summit, where friends may call.

Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Stella Cessna, at home, and Mrs. James E. Hall, north Main street, this city; one son, W.W. Witherspoon, living north of Patoka, and one sister, Miss Zillah Witherspoon, Princeton; and the following grandchildren: Former Mayor Gerald E. Hall, Mrs. Howard Morrison, Montpelier, O., Mrs. Harry Finch, Metz, Mo., W.H. Cessna, Williams, Ind., Mrs. Carl Haas, Terre Haute, and W. French Witherspoon, Patoka. The wife, Esther Burroughs Witherspoon, died December 28, 1936.

Mr. Witherspoon was commander of Arher Post No. 28, G.A.R., at the time of his death, and had served in that office for the past two years. He had served in practically every office in the post during his membership in the post.

With the death of Mr. Witherspoon, the charter of Archer post will be turned into the Indiana department of the Grand Army of the Republic, as soon as all records are completed by Mrs. M. Kate Habig, who served the post as secretary and assistant quartermaster for the past fourteen years.

Archer Post No. 28 passed its 56th year of organization on last January 13, having been granted a charter on that date in 1883 when the Farragut post of Evansville came to Princeton and formed Archer post with 32 charter members.

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Obituary of Samuel Bromagem
Source: Princeton Clarion-News, 12/12/1912

Samuel Bromagem - Well Known Citizen of Patoka is Called by Death

The death of Samuel Bromagem, well known citizen and old soldier, occurred this morning at 5 o'clock at the home of his daughter, Mrs. George Harvey, in Patoka, after about a week of serious illness.

The funeral will be held from the Harvey home Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock, and internment will be in Archer cemetery. Archer Post, G.A.R., of this city, of which the deceased was a member, will attend the funeral at Patoka and have charge of the internment.

Samuel Bromagem was 67 years of age. He is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Harvey and Mrs. F.H.G. Bell, of Marshall, O., and two sisters and a brother, Mrs. Sallie Grace, of Princeton, and Mrs. Kate Wigmore and John Bromagem, of Carlisle, Ark. He was an uncle of Misses Myrtle, Carrie and Madge Goodrich, of Princeton. In the civil war he served gallantly, as a member of Co. A, 185th Ohio Reg. He was an upright, God-fearing man, esteemed by all who knew him, and his death is a grievous blow to the loved ones and a loss to the community.

 

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