honor the memory of their fallen comrades and to help the war's impoverished
veterans, widows and orphans, a veteran's organization was formed
called the Grand Army of the Republic. The first post was
organized at Decatur, Illinois in 1866 and consisted of 13 charter
members. Eligible veterans included those who served in the Union
Army, Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutter Service during the period
of the Civil War and who were honorably discharged. It was the GAR
who organized the first Memorial Day on 30 May 1868. For more details
on the formation, organization, aims and objectives of the Grand
Army of the Republic, see the web site for the Sons
of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
in Madison County
were five posts of the GAR in Madison County: Leander Pitzer Post
55 in Winterset; John Miller Post 158 in St. Charles; J. D. Craven
Post 198 in Macksburg; John P. Jones Post 278 in Earlham and
Jonathan J. Roby Post 449 in Truro. The posts were all named for
deceased comrades in arms.
the GAR was formed in 1866, the first post in Madison County,
Pitzer Post 55, was not organized until 25 Aug 1881. The
post members were mustered in by A. B. Hazeltine of Des Moines. The charter
members of the Pitzer post inducted at the 25 August meeting were:
Marion (Quartermaster Sergeant)
Samuel B. (Surgeon)
G. (Senior Vice-Commander)
C. (Officer of the Day)
Charles C. (Sergeant Major)
William T. (Junior Vice-Commander)
|Jones, C. T.
William R. (Adjutant)
of the Guard)
W. C. (Commander)
GAR membership peaked in the early 1890s and then fell off as the
veterans became enfeebled and died. Many of the posts closed
down for lack of members in the first decade of the 1900s. The Pitzer
post appears to have gone on into the 1920s.
GAR records contain a wealth of information useful to
Iowa Historical Library at Iowa City has, on microfilm, a complete
set of GAR personnel records for all counties. At a minimum, these
records contain the GAR member's name and military service. But,
many of these records contain far more including the veteran's
birth, death and burial records; wife's maiden name; mother's maiden
name; father's name; children's names including married names and
children's birth dates. The 5 GAR posts in Madison county comprise just
under 600 records. Click here to
see the list of veterans for whom GAR records exist. If your
ancestor is in the list, their record can be found by clicking on
their rank in the alphabetized veterans lists.
The Madison County
Historical Society has a few GAR membership applications. A typical
application can be seen at the following two links: GAR
1 & GAR 2.
was evident in reviewing these records that a few members of the
Madison County GAR posts resided in adjacent counties and joined the
nearest post. If your ancestor should be but cannot be found in the
Madison County GAR records, you might look in the adjacent county if
they lived close to a county border.
Madison County Historical Society holds two volumes containing all
of the meeting minutes of the GAR Pitzer Post 55 from the charter
meeting held on 25 Aug 1881 through the last meeting held in 1907.