The last soldier

John Budreau writes, “I am a life member of the Benton County Historical Society and also a board member. I am also a member of the Indiana Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War and a member of the Company D, 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Reserves.

“We are requesting assistance from all of the county historians and historical societies in Indiana to help the Indiana SUVCW with our Last Soldier Project. This could be a very good Bicentennial Project/Legacy Project for all of the counties who don’t have a Civil War veteran listed or to research to verify that the correct veteran is listed. I am assisting our Junior Vice Commander, Timothy J. Beckman, with this program. I suggested to him about contacting all of the Indiana historical societies for assistance. He is requesting ‘any and all information about a known or suspected last Veteran. Any and all information will be greatly appreciated.’

“The SUVCW is a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of heroes who fought and worked to save the Union. Organized in 1881 and chartered by Congress in 1954, we are the legal successor to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). One of our primary projects is the ‘Last Soldier Project,’ which was started in 2003.

“The purpose of this project is to locate and appropriately mark the final resting place of the last Civil War Veteran buried (or entombed) in each county/parish and in each state of this great country. At present, there are approximately one-half of the Indiana counties that have a name listed. Tim Beckman is requesting that the county historians and historical societies research the name of the last one to be laid to rest in their county, and if they already have a name listed, to verify that the name is correct.

“Some names have been put in by someone other than the historical societies. For information on the SUVCW and the project, go to our website, SUVCW Department of Indiana. All of the information is in our website. We also have a list of over 100 Indiana Civil War Veterans who were known to be alive after December 16, 1940. You can refer to this list to see if you have anyone listed and then go from there. This list was provided by the Veterans Department in 1940. Someone has added names to different counties lists only later to find another Veteran who was buried after the first one. If you have any questions, email Tim Beckman at timbeckman@gmail.com.”

According to the Binford History of Hancock County, 143 residents died during the Civil War. There were six Grand Army of the Republic posts in Hancock County.

They included the Charlottesville Post 545, active from 1889 to 1898; Fortville Sol D. Kempton Post No. 2228, active from 1883 to 1930; Gem William E Hart Post No. 454 chartered 1886, no disband date; Greenfield Samuel Dunbar Post, chartered in 1882 to 1936; New Palestine Charles A. Kirkoff Post No. 534, 1888 to 1907; and Willow Branch Lorenzo Fort Post No. 438, 1886 to 1893.

My guess is that the last living Civil War veteran was Samuel Newton Shelby. He was from Buck Creek and Jackson Townships. In 1928, he moved into Greenfield when his home burned down. He was born on Sept. 1, 1843, and was laid to rest Feb. 2, 1936. He was the last surviving member of the Samuel H. Dunbar Post of the GAR. Anyone got a better guess?

Enough. I have told you everything that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.

You can write to Joe Skvarenina at jskvarenina @hotmail.com or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, Indiana, 46140.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.