News: Spencer History – Grand Army of the Republic


Surnames: Watrous, Logan, Mahoney, McPherson, Graves, Rue, Vanderhoof, Crowell, Williams, Damon, Hartford, Britten, Gaffney

Source: Spencer Centennial Book (1874 – 1974)

The G. A. R., a society of veterans who had fought to preserve the Union, was organized at Decatur, Illinois April 6, 1866. Its purpose was to strengthen the fellowship among said veterans, to honor the Union Soldiers killed in war, provide care for their dependents and uphold the constitution of the United States of America.

The G.A.R. started the celebration of Memorial Day in the northern states by a general order issued by Gen. John A. Logan. According to a newspaper of 1884, the Henry O. Watrous Post No. 93 held meetings the first and third Saturday evenings of each month in Gardiner's hall with Commander Mahoney in charge, and there is a later news item referring to the granting of a second charter to the Henry Watrous Post No. 93 at Spencer in 1895.

They bought the Catholic Church building located on West Main Street and converted it into a hall, probably in the late 1890's. A news item in a paper of 1901 tells of a supper held in the G.A.R. Hall with music furnished by Heath's orchestra.

For many years the G.A.R. and the Woman's Relief Corps worked together making preparations for the observance of Memorial Day and the decorating of the soldier's graves. Names of some of the early members who come to mind are William Mahoney, William McPherson, S. D. Graves, Charles W. Rue, Wesley Vanderhoof, H. R. Crowell, Collins Williams, and Joseph Damon. Other Spencer soldiers of this period were F. C. Hartford, Rev. O. A. Britten (former Methodist pastor) Nick Gaffney.

When they disbanded due to a rapid decrease in membership, they turned their hall over to the Woman's Relief Corps.



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