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First and last Boys in Blue


Posted By: Richard K. Thompson (email)
Date: 2/28/2012 at 09:35:15

Sesquicentennial Edition
Fairfield Ia. Ledger
Friday, July 28, 1989
Section E Page 3

(Note: evidently written by Ledger staff, not attributed to a specific writer)

First and last Boys in Blue

Jefferson County's last Civil War veteran was Michael FRANZ - soldier, buffalo hunter, Pony Express rider and deputy U.S. marshal.

When FRANZ died in Fairfield on June 17, 1945, at the age of 100, he was the last member of the George Strong Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The local GAR post was named for 1st Lt. George A. STRONG of Fairfield, the first man from Jefferson County to enlist in the Civil War and the first to die. For two generations it was one of the most influential organizations in the community.

The Grand Army of the Republic was organized by a group of Union Army veterans in 1866 in Decatur, Ill. The movement quickly spread to other northern states and by 1884 there were 529 posts in Iowa with a total membership of 20,333. By 1933, the number of Iowa posts had dwindled to 71 with 492 members.

The exact date of the organization of the George Strong Post is not known, but its charter and records date from June 9, 1883. It was the last active post in the state and when it was disbanded June 9, 1944, the Iowa Department of the GAR passed into history.

FRANZ was the only Jefferson County Civil War veteran to reach the century mark. The next three senior GAR members were John SMITHLINE (sic - SCHMIDTLEIN), Lockridge, who died in 1940 at the age of 93; Joseph ALVERSON, Batavia, who died Sept. 29, 1943, at the age of 99; and Elliott P. TAYLOR, Fairfield, who died June 5, 1944, at the age of 98. TAYLOR also served as Iowa department commander in 1941.

While FRANZ served in the 20th Iowa Infantry Regiment, he did not make his home in Jefferson County until after the war. He was born Sept. 14, 1844, in Fronhophen, Prussia, coming to the United States with his parents in 1853. The family moved to Cedar Rapids in 1856 and FRANZ enlisted for army duty at Davenport in 1863.

He took part in the battles of Brazos Santiago and Mustang Island in Texas and saw fighting at Fort Gaines, Fort Morgan and Fort Blakely, Ala., before he was discharged at New Orleans on Aug. 10, 1865. A war wound led to the eventual amputation of his left arm in 1919.

FRANZ headed west after the war, taking a job hunting buffalo in eastern Kansas. There he met both Buffalo Bill CODY and Kit CARSON. He also served as a Pony Express rider between Pueblo and Rosita, Colo., and later became a U.S. deputy marshal in the Indian territory of Oklahoma. Franz came to Fairfield in 1889, working at the Louden Machinery Company until 1907 when he returned to Colorado. He came back to Iowa in 1914, making his home both in Fairfield and Ottumwa. Two FRANZ daughters, Mrs. W.H. FAULKNER and Mrs. Ralph SALTS, were long-time residents of Fairfield.

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes. I am not related to the person(s) mentioned.

Note: Of those mentioned in this story, George A. STRONG and Elliott P. TAYLOR are buried in Glasgow cemetery in Jefferson county, Iowa. Michael FRANZ, his wife Ida, and several members of his family are buried either in Evergreen cemetery or Memorial Lawn cemetery in Fairfield, Iowa. John SMITHLINE/SCHMIDTLEIN is buried in Lockridge Cemetery. Joseph ALVERSON is buried in Bladensburg Cemetery in Wapello Co., IA.


Jefferson Documents maintained by Joey Stark.
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