A former national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War, is interred in the Beardstown City Cemetery.
Charles E. Jones was born in New York state and enlisted in the army there. After the Civil War, he moved west, marrying Almira Stedman at Hull, Illinois. Some time later the couple moved to Beardstown. Mr. Jones took a position with the C. B. & Q. Railroad and worked his way up from section hand to roadmaster. Mrs. Jones passed away in 1911. After a 30-year career with the railroad, Jones moved to the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area, where he lived with his daughter’s family and established a refrigeration business.
Mr. Jones was serving as national vice-commander of the Grand Army, when, upon the death of the commander, he assumed that post in 1932. He wore his G. A. R. paraphernalia proudly and was said to be quite an impressive figure.
Virgil Reither, Beardstown newspaper man, was in attendance when the old soldier made an appearance at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. He reported that Jones alone looked strong and able among the feeble and stooped Civil War veterans, even at age 87.
Following his trip to the fair, Jones stopped in Beardstown to chat with his old friend, Chief of Police George W. Farrar, with whom he worked during his railroad days. He told of attending Civil War commemorations in the south while in uniform, which clearly set him apart from Confederate veterans, and stated there was no feeling of charity among the southern people toward Yankees.
Later that year, while traveling to a Grand Army meeting, Mr. Jones fell from a railroad platform and suffered a broken hip. He passed away from complications two weeks later in a Tuscaloosa hospital, on December 26, 1933. Funeral services were held on December 28th at the Congregational Church in Beardstown, with E. E. Angier, Frank Bollman, L. Kendall, A. J. Knight, R. B. Glenn and F. J. Kuhl serving as pall bearers. Charles Jones was buried next to his wife.
A 1933 photograph of Commander Jones marching in a parade with Illinois Governor, Henry Horner, and Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, Henry T. Rainey, may be seen here. Scroll down to the seventh picture. There are many interesting and historic Springfield, Illinois images on the page, which might take a few moments to load.