Lindemann to discuss the memorial to Schoharie men who died in the Civil War
Corporal James Tanner (1844-1927) described the July 4, 1868 dedication of the Civil War memorial in Jefferson. He was a Richmondville native who lost both legs at Second Bull Run, was present at Lincoln’s deathbed, served as United States Commissioner of Pensions, and Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Sgt. Howard O. Gregory (1840-1864) of Jefferson is one of the 28 soldiers listed on the monument. He enlisted on Aug. 19, 1861 in Company E, Third New York Cavalry. He was taken prisoner at Ream’s Station, Va. on June 29, 1864 and later died in Andersonville Prison, one of the “prison pens of the South.”
“The Civil War Dead of Schoharie County” will be the topic at the next meeting of the Jefferson Historical Society, with local historian Peter Lindemann discussing his upcoming book A Crooked Gun.
The presentation will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7:15 p.m. at the Jefferson Historical Society, Jefferson Town Hall, 677 North Harpersfield Road, Jefferson.
“Jefferson is unique in Schoharie County, in that it has a Civil War memorial listing the local men who died in service,” said Lindemann of the monument in the Evergreen Cemetery. “You may miss it, thinking it is just another grave marker, but then you notice the 28 names on it.”
The memorial was dedicated by the citizens of Jefferson on July 4, 1868.
There that day was Corporal James Tanner of Richmondville, present at Lincoln’s deathbed three years earlier, who described the dedication in the July 9, 1868 issue of the Schoharie Union. He called the marker “a most beautiful monument,” dedicated to the memory of those who died “either by the bullets of the enemy, by disease, or in the prison pens of the South.”
On July 4, 1868, at 11 a.m., reported Tanner, the procession formed, and then marched to the cemetery escorted by the Schoharie Cornet Band. At the cemetery, Rev. Leonard S. Richards of Stamford delivered an address and prayer, and formally dedicated the monument “to the memory of the fallen heroes, and to the perpetuation of those principles of Liberty for which they so nobly offered up their lives.”
The monument, displaying the names of the 28 “soldiers who formerly resided in Jefferson, and who fell in the late war of the Rebellion” had been funded by the people of Jefferson and vicinity, at a cost of $600.
“I understand that the citizens of Jefferson have generally done nobly,” reported Tanner, “but none more so than that esteemed citizen Reuben Shelmandine, Esq., who has been active in season and out of season, and to whom much credit is due for the accomplishment of that commendable purpose.”
Following the dedication in the cemetery, the procession re-formed and marched to the grove.
“The statement was made to the audience that there was yet to be raised of the monument fund the sum of $50,” said Tanner, “and those who felt so disposed was invited to step forward and contribute. In a few moments it was announced that the required amount was proffered which furnished another pleasing feature of the day.”
Following prayer, the Honorable Stephen L. Mayham delivered an “elaborate and highly eloquent oration.” Mayham, a native of Blenheim, had served as district attorney and then state assemblyman. He would go on to become a United States Congressman, first president of the Schoharie Valley Railroad Company, and Presiding Justice of the New York State Supreme Court.
Mayham’s oration was followed by music from the Jefferson Glee Club, which was in turn followed by an address from Rev. Richards, which Tanner termed “able and exhaustive.” Finally, the procession re-formed and marched to the village where “mine host Curtis” of the Jefferson House “allowed none to depart unsatisfied.”
“The 92nd Anniversary of American Independence was most appropriately observed by the citizens of Jefferson and vicinity on the 4th inst.,” concluded Corporal Tanner. “The whole occasion was without a draw back, and thus was the natal day of our country appropriately observed and the memory of our dead heroes embalmed in our hearts.”