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Bay County Civil War History
By Marvin Kusmierz (Aug 2003 - Updated Apr 2005)

Last Six Members of Bay County's
Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)

Last G.A.R. Veterans.

It was a special day when six elder veterans gathered together on a warm summer's day. They had a unique relationship that bound them together by the turmoils of the Civil War. They were the last living members of the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). They proudly assembled to pose before the camera and in a precious moment their images were captured and an important piece of our history was documented.

They were the pride of their community for what they did and everyone knew who they were at that time... but no more. Somewhere along the way their names were lost. But thanks to a long research effor by Jim Petrimoux they were identified in 2013. They are left to right: Martin Heath, Thomas Webster, Willard Huffman, Daniel Chapman, John Wilbur and Benjamin Groomes. Jim notes that three more veterans were living at this time: Patrick Murphy, James Gordon and Phenix Bellor.

  • {View} May 30, 1938 Memorial Day article on last three Civil War veterans.

    Update to Last Six Members photo - April, 2005. Below are three members identified in the photo based on research done by Alan Flood, of Bay City, MI. (Click name to read death notice from The Bay City Times.)

    Judge Thomas E. Webster
    Died Sep. 13, 1940, age 92.
    Last to die.

    Martin Heath
    Died Nov. 18, 1939, age 96.
    2nd of last to die.

    Benjamin F. Groomes
    Died Oct. 10, 1938, age 94.
    3rd of last to die.

    The last of these veterans to die was Phenix Bellor (Ballard) as evidenced by his obituary contributed by Jim Petrimoulx (Oct., 2012).

    The Bay City Times - Sunday, March 1, 1942.

    Bellor: Funeral services for Phenix Bellor, 93 year old Civil War veteran, will be held from the home of his neice and nephew, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Miller, in Linwood, at 8:30 a.m. Monday, and at St. Anne church at 9 a.m., with the Rev. Joseph Barrette officiating. Burial will be in the St. Anne cemetery. Mr. Bellor died at the Miller home, Friday evening after an illness of three and a half years. He was born in Mt. Clemens, Nov. 22, 1848 and served during the Civil War receiving his honoral discharge on Sept. 6, 1865. He had lived in Bay County for the past 65 years. Surviving are one brother Joseph Bellor of Flushing and his neice and newphew.

    Michigan Responds.

    In Les Arndt's book, "The Bay County Story - From Footpaths to Freeways", he wrote this about them:

    "The first real opportunity for Bay County men to show their mettle came during the Civil War, and recalling the preachings of two-time Presidential candidate, James G. Birney, an early supporter for emancipation of the slaves, they were among the earliest to answer President Lincoln's call for volunteers when Fort Sumter was fired on. Bay County with its small population of 3,164 turned out 511 men. Of the 511, 83 either died in service or died later of war-related wounds or illness."

    The Civil War between the southern states and the union began in the Spring of 1861. Neither side expected it to last long. After all, the nation's only long war was when the country won its independence from Britain. Other than that, subsequent conflicts were very short in duration; Texas War of Independence (1835-1836) and the the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) were what most recalled at the time. The bloody battles that ensued endured until 1865, costing the North 363,020 casualties and the South 199,110. It took generations to heal the wounds that it caused the nation. But, it settled the issue of whether this nation's future would move foreward as one union or separate nations.

    When the Civil War began, The State of Michigan was only 34 years old and Bay County had was an infant county, being organized for only 4 years. The new county was still finding its way. There were only five townships in existence then; Hampton and Williams the original two townships, and Arenac, Bangor and Portsmouth which were organized in 1859.

    Gen. Benjamin Partridge
    Gen. B.F. Partridge
    {View Bio.}

    One of the first to lead recruitment local of men in joining the Northern forces was Sheriff Benjamin F. Partridge . This group would be assigned to the 16th Michigan Infantry. Partridge went on to earn the rank of Brigadier General and served notoriously in many battles. Near the end of the war he was with General Ulysses S. Grant.

    Michigan's contribution to the war was over 90,000 men, and it's cost to local families over 60 of their sons, brothers and fathers.

    Generation of Lost Veterans.

    For many years, the identity of the local Civil War Veterans went unknown, but that ended in 1983 thanks two local citizens, Gerald Pegande and Eurdine Ringwelski. They pursued a successful research projected to identify who these men were. Invaluable assistance came from Steven Moore of congressman J. Bob Traxler's office and Jackie Bohlinger who transcribed the mountain of compiled data. Assistance also came from Dave Rogers of the Bay City Times and Jerry Angers of the Bay County Veteran's Council who joined Pergande and Ringwelski as a committee to resolve issues with conflicting data in the compiled findings.

    Many At Pine Ridge Cemetery.

    GAR grave marker
    Gar Marker

    In doing research for this article, I made several trips to the Pine Ridge Cemetery located on the south east corner of Ridge and Tuscola roads. Many of our Civil War veterans are buried and it is where a special section exists dedicated to these men. After my initial trip there, I found myself returning again and again to see a little more and to read the headstones of those still ledgible. The headstone of many of the grave sites are gone and for some site, there is only GAR marker identifying a veterans burial spot.

    During my trip there in August, I took my camera to a few pictures to include with this article. It was a late afternoon with the sun sitting just off the horizon. It was a beautiful sight seeing the bright stone facings welcoming me as I entered through the Tuscola entrance to the cemetery. I was the only one there which is not that unusual for Pine Ridge, unlike St. Stanislaus cemetery where my folks are buried and where it common to see many visitors.

    Headstone of James Gordon
    James Gordon

    James E. Gordan.
    As I was taking pictures in the veterans memorial area another vehicle came wandering down the old narrow dirt pathway built for horse carriages to traverse. The car stopped where I was and a elder man got out. We acknowledge each other's presence and after a moment or two...

    He asked, "Do you have family buried here?"
    I said, "No, my interest in the cemetery's history."
    He said, "My grandfather, is buried here."

    He took me over to see the headstone of his grandfather. Like so many others, it had no dates and simply read,

    James Gordon
    Co. E
    8 Mich. Inf.

    This veteran's grandson went on to proudly inform me that his grandfather was a flag bearer with the military guard assigned to President Lincoln, commenting...

    "Got his finger shot off."
    "He was one hell of a horseman."
    "Had surgery to remove liver cancer that left him with a hose attached that drained as he walk along."
    "He was a strong man... that really hurt his pride."

    I wanted to learn more, but it was late and he had to go. His wife, waiting in the car, had been encouraging him several times to "hurry up." Exchanging a few more words we walked towards his car, I gave him my calling card and let him that I would like to learn more about his grandfather.

    I haven't heard from him since, and being a novist researcher -- I failed to get his first name or a phone number to follow up with him. If you should know the Gordon that I met, please contact me or let him know that I am interested in talking to him again.

    Family stories like this about the Gordan family, are what binds the history of our community to the present. Unless they are recorded by a family member and shared at large publically, they will soon be lost forever. It's my hope that viewers of this article will take a time to reflect on their family's history -- that you feel compelled to begin recording what you consider important to your family's heritage that should be passed onto future generations to know.

    Pine Ridge Cemetery History --

    Veterans Area
    Civil War Veterans Area
    (See right column for story about canon.

    Pine Ridge Cemetery has a significant and unique importance to the history of our community. It was built by James Birney in 1858. At that time the only cemetery on the east side of the river was "Potter's Field", a small informal gravesite dating to about 1940. Potter's Field was located on 12th Street (Columbus Avenue) between Washington and Saginaw. When Oak Ridge Cemetery opened around 1850 on Henry street in West Bay City, most burials took place there until Pine Ridge was available and the place were many Civil War veterans and pioneer families are buried here.

    The Pine Ridge Cemetery was on the verge of being lost after it's last known owner died. The site was essentially abandoned and fell into disrepair. Vandalism increased and many headstone were damaged, tip over, or ornaments stolen. Nature rapidly began recapturing much of open grounds of the cemetery covering or disturbing the foundation of tombstones.

    A volunteer group led by Dave Rogers, a local historian and writer, have taken on the task of trying to save the cemetery from complete distruction. Known as the, "Friends of Pine Ridge Cemetery," they have done much to stop the deterioration, but they are need of help from anyone who cares about the sacred importance the individuals buried here. Many are veterans and pioneers of this community's early history. They deserve to have their final resting place endure and we owe it to ourselve and future generations to make sure it endures.

    In 2009, New Dimensions of Bay City took over care of Pine Ridge Cemetery, then left a couple of years later. Since then volunteers has maintained the cemetery. Help is needed from businesses and public to continue support of the cemetery. To learn more visit - {Pine Ridge Cemetery}

    Bay County Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Posts

    Post #67, U.S. Grant (1882-1940), Bay City

  • 1882: Chartered, name Bay City Post, Cmdr. Henry S. Maynard..
  • 1883: Name changed to Ralph W. Cummings post.
  • 1895: Name change to U.S. Grant Post, 702-704 Washington Ave.
  • 1890: George P. Cobb, cmdr., meet 702-704 Washington Ave.
  • 1896: M.M. Andrews, cmdr., meet 702-704 Washington Ave.
  • 1901-02: James Van Kleek, cmdr.
  • 1940: Disbanded on Sept. 18th. Last Cmdr. Thomas E. Webster.
  • Post #278, Henry S. Burnett (1884-1928), West Bay City

  • 1896: A.W.Dorland, cmdr., meet Babo Hall, Midland St.
  • Other cmdrs.: Geo. A. Allen, H.H. Aplin, E.T. Carrington.
  • Post #407, Marshall W. Chapin (1891-1913), Auburn

    Post #419, H. P. Merrill (1893-1926), Bay City

  • 1885: YMCA Hall, Adams, bet. 5th st. and Center ave.
  • 1902: Cottage Hall, 702 N. Madison.
  • History and listing of members (510) of the U.S. Grant Post No. 67 can been seen at:
    [Dept. Michigan, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War]

    U.S. Grant Post No. 67.

    In 2010, the U.S. Grant Post No. 67, was reinstated in Bay City, and will be taking an important role is preserving the memories of Civil War veterans in Bay County. They will also participate in preserving the Soldiiers Rest area located in Pine Ridge Cemetery, a role the post played during its early history. Many members of the post are also members of the Seventh Michigan Infantray Civil War Round Table in Bay City.

  • Civil War Menu
    News Articles (1863-64)
    Names Database.
    {Bay Co. GAR Burials}
    {Civil War Maps}
    Related Pages
    {Birney, David Bell}
    {Birney, Fitzhugh}
    {Birney, James G IV}
    {Military Veterans}
    {2d MI Cav.}
    {29th, MI Inf.}
    {31st MI Inf.}
    {Attack on Ft. Sumter}
    {CW News Feb/28/1937}
    {Hemminger's Diary}
    {Ironclad Monitor -1902}
    {Veterans, Gannser book}
    {More} Writings/Military/
    USA History/
    {Gettysburg Address}
    People Referenced
    Aplin, Henry H.
    Arndt, Leslie
    Barnett, Henry S.
    Bellor, Joseph
    Bellor, Phenix
    Bradley, Nathan B.
    Bohlinger, Jackie
    Chapin, Marshall W.
    Champman, Daniel
    Gordon, James
    Grant, Ulysses S.Gen.
    Griswald, Joseph B.
    Groomes, Benjamin
    Heath, Martin
    Huffman, Willard
    Lincoln, Abraham Pres.
    Merrill, H.P.
    Miller, Alfred
    Moore, Steven
    Murphy, Patrick
    Partridge, Benjamin F. Gen.
    Pergande, Gerald
    Raymond, Henry
    Ringwelski, Eurdine
    Rogers, Dave
    Strong, Eli
    Traxler, J.R. Hon.
    Tupper, Horace Dr.
    Van Kleek, James
    Webster, Thomas
    Wilbur, John
    Younkman, Eileen
    Subjects Referenced
    16th Michigan Infantry
    Bangor twsp.
    Bay City, MI
    Bay Co., MI
    Bay Co. Historical Society
    Bay Co. Veterans Council
    Brigadier General
    Civil War
    Cottage Hall
    Flushing, MI
    GAR marker
    GAR post #067
    -- U.S. Grant
    GAR post #278
    -- Henry S. Barnett
    GAR post #407
    -- Marshall W. Chapin
    GAR post #419
    -- H.P. Merrill
    Grand Army of the Republic
    Hampton twsp.
    Mt. Clemens, MI
    Oak Ridge Cem.
    Pine Ridge Cem.
    Potter's Field Cem.
    Portsmouth twsp.
    St. Anne cemetery
    St. Stanislaus Cem.
    West Bay City
    Williams twsp.
    YMCA Hall
    Internet Resources

    Morning Report Newsletter

    Bay County:

    [-] Civil War Soldier Burials for Bay County. - mifamilyhistory.org/bay
    [-] Search Bay County CW Burials. - Sons of the Union.

    [-] Michigan Civil War History - Michigan Historical Society.
    [-] Michigan In The Civil War. Complete rosters and regiment data.
    [-] History of Michigan Regiments - The Civil War Archive.
    [-] Michigan Sons of the Union.
    Project Gutenberg EBooks:

    [-] Famous Adventures and Prison Escapes - by various authors.
    [-] Hisoritc Pages on the Causes of the Civil War - by Mrs. Eugenia Dunlap Potts.
    [-] Chancellorsville and Gettsburg Campaigns of the Civil War, VI - Abner Doubleday.
    [-] Reminiscences of the Civil War, VI - by Jacob Dolson Cox.
    [-] On The Trail of Grant and Lee (1911)- By Frederick Trevor Hill.
    [-] Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete - by U.S. Grant (1885), W.T. Sherman (1889), P.H. Sheridan (1888).

    [-] Civil War Images from the Library of Congress.
    [-] 1938 voice recording of William V. Rathvon recalling the Battle of Gettysburg when he was a child. (22:02)
    [-] Battle of Gettysberg. Radio dramitization from "You Are There" series by CBS.(25:30)
    [-] Civil War - Aunthentic History
    [-] Daughters of the Union Army of the Civil War. - www.duvcw.org
    The Pine Ridge Canon.
    For a long-time no one of this generation was able to say where or how the cannon stationed at the Veterans area came about. The following article found by local historian, Alan Flood, explains it all:
    Bay City Tribune
    Sunday, March 9, 1902
    Howitzer Secured by the Late Congressman Crump.
    G.A.R. Post Send Fitting Letter of Thanks.

    During his second term in Congress the late Hon. R. O. Crump secured from the government a cannon to be place in "Soldiers Rest" in the Birney cemetery, but death ensued before he fully carried out his intentions. The following letter sent to the family of the Congressman:

    Bay City, March 7, 1902,
    Shelly C. Crump, West Bay City,

    Dear Sir -- The eight inch howitzer seige gun, belonging to your father the late Congressman R. O. Crump, and presented to H. P. Merrill and U. S. Grank Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic of Bay City, has been placed on the burial burial lot known as "Soldiers Rest," in the Birney cemetery.
    Both posts passed votes of thanks to you at their last meeting. We wish to assure you that the verterans of the civil war fully appreciate your patriot thoughtfullness and will value this gun as a relic and reminder of the struggle for national honor and existence in which we had a part as union volunteer soldiers.
    Joint committee from the two posts.
    Note: Photo of cannon on main section of this page.
    "Long Search for names for memorial finally over", May 30, 1883, Bay City Times, by Eileen Younkman.
    "The Bay County Story - Footpaths to Freeways", by Leslie E. Arndt.
    "History of Bay County (1905)," by Augustus H. Gansser.

    Biographies of Civil War Veterans Related to Bay County.

    A - E
  • ALVORD, Henry H.
  • ANDREWS, Martin M.
  • ANSCOMB, Alonzo F.
  • APLIN, Henry H.
  • ARMSTRONG, Richard
  • BABCOCK, Edward V.
  • BALLARD (BELLOR), Phenix
  • BARCLAY, Frederick
  • BARRETT, William
  • BENSON, samuel
  • BENTLEY, Oscar F.
  • BIRNEY, Fitzhugh
  • BIRNEY, James G. IV
  • BOUGHTON, John C.
  • BUMP, Orrin
  • BUTTERFIELD, George W.
  • CARNEY, William E.
  • CLARK, Newcomb
  • COBB, Geo. P., Judge
  • COLLINS, Chester L.
  • COOKE, Aaron J.
  • COWELS, Edwin D.
  • DANSFORTH, James C.
  • DAVIS, John
  • ERWIN, Robert W.
  • F - P
  • GORDON, James
  • GROMES, Benjamin F.
  • HEATH, Martin
  • HEMMINGER, Isaac
  • HICKS, William F.
  • HOPLER, Henry W.
  • HORN, Augustus
  • HORN, Augustus
  • INGERSOLL, Henry S.
  • KNAGGS, John W.
  • LANDON, Henry B.
  • LANGWORTHY, Daniel A.
  • LAROCHE, Alex (Confed. army)
  • LEWIS, Griffin
  • LINDNER, Henry
  • LOUNT, Ira A.
  • LYLE, William M. Rev.
  • KATTAIN, Benno A.
  • MANDLEY, Jason C.
  • MAXSON, William.
  • McDERMOTT, John
  • MIX, Horace B.
  • MORIN, William
  • MURPHY, Nathaniel N.
  • NOTTINGHAM, John C. Dr.
  • PARTRIDGE, Benjamin F.
  • PLUSH, John H.
  • Q - Z
  • RAYMOND, Henry S.
  • RICHARDSON, Richard L.
  • ROSENBURY, Charles E.
  • ROWDEN, John C.
  • SANGLE, George
  • SHEARER, John W.
  • SHOOK, Harvey
  • SLENO, Leonard.
  • SMITH, William.
  • THOMAS, Henry H.
  • TUPPER, Horace
  • VAN KLEECK, James
  • WALTON, Andrew J.
  • WARREN, Robert L.
  • WEBSTER, Thomas E. (Last Vet.)
  • WHEELER, Harrison H.
  • WILLCOX, Lyman G.
  • WILBUR, John
  • WILSON, Fitzland L.
  • WINKLER, Michael.
  • Let us remember the pledge of our ancestor "to never forget the soldiers"
    who sacrificed so much to help preserve our freedom.
    It's up to the current generation to carry forward this promise.

    HELP US IS YOU CAN - Contribute to the Informaton on Veterans