Category Archives: Local Notables

Beardstown’s Last Surviving Civil War Soldier

James M. Lowder’s story shares some similarities with other Civil War servicemen who resided in the city. He was  born elsewhere, came to  Beardstown after the war ended, and spent a few years working for the C. B. & Q. Railroad. One thing that James M. Lowder did not share with those other gentlemen – he was a confederate soldier.

Mr. Lowder left his Tennessee home to fight for the south and remained in the army until the end of the war, despite being shot several times and suffering a saber wound, attested to by the scar on his bald head. One of his cherished war memories was of the night he was called upon to guard the tent of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Despite his Confederate roots, Lowder bore no ill-will toward the north and took part in many Memorial Day observances in the city. For a couple of years, he was Beardstown’s last living link to the Civil War. That he was well-liked and respected by his former adversaries could be seen through his membership in local veterans’ organizations.

James Lowder died at his home on May 13, 1939, after celebrating his 95th birthday in January. The American Legion was in charge of services at his burial. He was interred in the Beardstown City Cemetery next to his wife of nearly 67 years, Parthenia, who passed away in 1938. Evidently, Mr. Lowder’s grave is unmarked in 2018, as several cemetery readings make no mention of it.

Long-Lived Cass County Civil War Veterans

SiHagertyBy 1934, there were only four Civil War veterans living in Beardstown. On September 1st of that year, the number fell to three with the death of Silas Haggerty.

Corporal Haggerty served in Company H, 137th Illinois Infantry.

Mr. Haggerty was born in Cooperstown, IL in 1845. After the war, he moved to Beardstown and was employed by the C. B. & Q. railroad.

He was survived by one daughter, a nephew, several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Services for Corp. Haggerty were held at Beardstown’s Oak Grove Cemetery on Monday, September 3, 1934.

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jcw John Weber was born in Germany in the year 1843, coming to the United States when he was 17 years of age. The brave and adventurous young man joined the 46th Regiment of the New York Infantry shortly thereafter. (The veteran’s obituary stated that he was in the cavalry, but his military headstone indicates that he was an infantryman.)

He served in many major engagements and suffered a saber wound at the battle of Petersburg. Mr. Weber recovered and returned to duty under General Grant.

Shortly after the war, he settled in Beardstown and went to work for the C. B. & Q. Railroad. Weber retired from the railroad after a forty-one year career.

JCWeber_thumb.jpgHe married his wife, Kathryn, in the year 1875. She preceded him in death in September, 1935, and he lost a son just one month later. Mr. Weber was survived by two other sons, three daughters, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

At the time of his death, February 26, 1936, he was very much looking forward to his ninety-third birthday, which was less than a week away.

Mr. Weber was a charter member and an officer of the local G. A. R. post until the death of most of the members caused the group to be dissolved.

Services for John Weber were held at the Methodist Church. Military burial rites, including a rifle salute, were performed by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Beardstown City Cemetery.

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As mentioned before, by 1934 there were only four Civil War veterans residing in Beardstown. The deaths of Silas Haggerty and John Weber left two names remaining on that list.

The third soldier, William Peacock, must have moved to Rushville, in Schuyler County, before his death, in 1939, at the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home, at Quincy, Illinois. He was interred in the Rushville City Cemetery.

The last Civil War veteran residing in Beardstown was James Lowder.

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CKikendallThe November 19, 1937 issue of the Jacksonville Daily Journal brought news of the death of Charles Kikendall, Virginia, Illinois’ last surviving veteran of the War Between the States.

Mr. Kikendall came from Kentucky to the town of Virginia with his family as a young man. When he was 15, Charles ran away to enlist in the Union Army but his father followed and brought him home. At the age of 16, he left home again and served in the 114th Regiment throughout the war. His brother, John, also belonged to the 114th and suffered the misfortune of being captured and spending time in the infamous Andersonville Prison.

CKpostKikendall’s wife, Amanda, preceded him in death in 1933. The 90 year-old veteran was survived by four daughters and three sisters.

“Charley” was well known on the town square in Virginia and was renowned for his skills as a fisherman.

He died in Mississippi, where he had been living with one of his daughters, and his remains were returned to Virginia for burial.

Mr. Kikendall was a former commander of Downing Post No. 321 of the Grand Army of the Republic and the last member to pass away. He was laid to rest on March 21, I937, not far from the G. A. R. plot at Walnut Ridge Cemetery in Virginia. Military rites were accorded by members of the American Legion.

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Stories about a couple of Ashland, Illinois Civil War veterans appeared in the Illinoian-Star newspaper during January, 1934. Those men were Hiram Baxter and Daniel Jones.

BaxterHB

Hiram B. Baxter was born in Indiana in September, 1840. He was one of seven brothers who fought for the Union, all of whom survived the conflict.

Jacksonville Daily Journal

Baxter re-enlisted after recovering from a wound suffered at the battle of Perryville, KY. He was wounded again at Rome, GA and was honorably discharged. After convalescing from his second injury, he again returned to the service of his country.

After the war, Capt. Baxter moved to Illinois and lived in Jacksonville and Literberry, before settling on a farm a few miles from Ashland. He married Lydia Ellen Crum in 1876, and she preceded him in death in the year 1907. They were the parents of two sons.

Hiram Baxter passed away at the age of 98 on November 16, 1938 at the home of his son, William, in Ashland. He was interred at Arcadia Cemetery in Morgan County.

He was the first commander of the John L. Douglas G. A. R. post in Ashland, and was its last surviving member. After the Douglas Post disbanded, Baxter joined the Stephenson Post, of Springfield. His death left six members of that organization.

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JonesDA2

Daniel A. Jones was born in Golconda, IL on February 27, 1845. He enlisted in Vienna, IL in August, 1862 and spent the winter training at Camp Butler, near Springfield.

Jacksonville Daily Journal

Mr. Jones spent some time at the infamous Andersonville Prison after being captured following the battle of Guntown (Mississippi). He and several other men escaped while being moved from one prison camp to another. He kept a notebook of his war experiences.

Mr. Jones’ wife, Fannie, died in 1918. In 1934, he was said to enjoy tending his garden and was still able to read without the aid of glasses.

When he died at his Ashland home on June 1, 1940, at the age of 95, perhaps he was the county’s last surviving Civil War veteran?

The Sunbonnet Lady

bnntldyA story in the October 24, 1939 edition of the Illinoian-Star led to fame for a 92 year-old Virginia, Illinois resident. Mrs. Anna Ruby sewed over 300 sun bonnets a year and sold them for 30 or 35 cents each. She insisted that the money she earned be deducted from her Illinois Old Age Assistance payments. Her independence and work ethic brought the elderly lady national attention.

During her March 10, 1940 radio show, Kate Smith, the “Songbird of the South,” complemented and commented on Mrs. Ruby. The next day Anna received a letter from Illinois Governor Henry Horner:

“The story of your trade in sun bonnets had just come to my notice, and what a heartening story it is! How charged with wholesome encouragement! To be well, alert, forward-looking and busy at a useful task at ninety-two is surely a splendid achievement.

I count it a privilege for the State of Illinois to assist you in some small measure, and I greatly admire your sturdy spirit of self-help. Please accept my congratulations and best wishes.”

Later in the year, during a tour of the newly remodeled Cass County Courthouse, Mrs. Ruby’s display of sunbonnets in the Office of Old Age Assistance received much attention and she was said to be the belle of the open house.

Her notoriety led to orders for bonnets from all over the country, but due to her age, she could not fill them all. She continued to work, as best she could, through the 1940’s.

Mrs. Ruby, who was blessed with good health for 100 years, passed away at the Massie Nursing home in Virginia, at 8 p. m., October 25, 1950, at the age of 103. She was born in the Monroe district of Cass County on September 13, 1847, the daughter of Miles and Matilda Bridgewater White. Anna was married twice, and both her husbands preceded her in death. There were no children. The “Sunbonnet Lady” was laid to rest in Walnut Ridge Cemetery at Virginia.

Some Facts About Archibald Job

Archibald Job came to the area that is now Cass County around 1820, first settling in the present-day Beardstown area and later moving to Sylvan Grove, near Virginia, IL.

The law relocating the seat of Illinois government from Vandalia to Springfield was passed in 1837 and Archibald Job was later selected as one of three commissioners to oversee construction of the new (now old) statehouse in that city.

He was also involved with the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal, which would have extended from the Illinois River at Beardstown to Miller’s Ferry on the Sangamon. A portion of the bill incorporating the canal company was written by Abraham Lincoln. The plan was delayed by financial hard times and eventually scrapped. Beardstown’s Canal Street is a reminder of the abandoned project.

Mr. Job was instrumental in the formation of Cass County, served in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly and was present at the Republican convention in Springfield during June, 1858 when Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech.

DEAD – Archibald Job, died at the residence of his son-in-law Wm. Douglas, in Ashland, on last Wednesday morning. At the time of his decease Mr. Job was aged 90 years and one day, and had been a resident of Cass County for more than 40 years. He was one of the earliest settlers in this part of the state, having come here when the country around Virginia – and the present site of the town – was nothing but a wilderness. He lived to see it blossom like the rose, and what was then an unbroken waste, become a garden in fertility and productiveness.

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There is a gang of boys in town who “make the night hideous” by yelling and otherwise disturbing the peace, and who either turn loose horses hitched to the rack, or frighten them until they break loose. Last Monday night, Harry Stribling’s horse was served in this way, and this is the second time within a few weeks. Parents are to blame for allowing their boys to run wild every night.
The Virginia Gazette – Friday, March 13, 1874