BURT COUNTY, NEBRASKA
Burt County Burtonian
August 23, 1894
The sixth annual reunion of the Burt County Veteran Association had its formal opening Wednesday evening. The meeting was called to order by Lieutenant Colonel A. P. Mason, and the song "America, " was rendered by the sextette consisting of Misses Carrie Mason and Minnie Fischer and Messrs. Harry Mason, Howard Mason, Manley Palmanteer and Fred L. Burton. The song was well rendered and much appreciated. Lawyer H. E. Carter gave the address of welcome in a few well chosen words, which was responded to by Comrade E. E. Tuttle, who, although stating that he couldn't talk made a few very appropriate remarks thanking Tekamah's people for their kindness and hospitality to the old soldiers. Rev. R. P. Tuttle lead in prayer. The drum corps furnished plenty of excellent music interspersed throughout the entire evening. The camp was named Camp Reynolds. Comrade C. E. Barker was chosen officer of the day and Captain Harry Mason as officer of the guards. After this the male quartet composed of Messrs. Fred L. Burton, Manley Palmanteer, Harry and Howard Mason rendered the selection known by the title of "Old Shady," in a manner highly complimentary to themselves; were roundly encored and responded bravely to the applause by giving another appropriate selection, "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground." The meeting was then turned in a "campfire" and Rev. W. W. Brown, Comrades S. S. Skinner expresses their minds in regards to foraging, stealing chickens, bacon, molasses, etc., and as to the pitiful scenes of the hospital and meeting of sweethearts, etc. Ladies who were present who were old maids during the war were called for and only one had the courage to rise. The opening was a very enthusiastic one and we hope to give more of the details next week.
August 30, 1894
2500 to 3000 ATTENDED DAILY
EVERYTHING PLEASANT AND SOLDIERS PLEASED
SHAM BATTLE A GRAND SUCCESS
In addition to the opening given last week by the BURTONIAN, we here give a brief description of the sixth annual reunion of the Burt County Veteran Association held at Tekamah, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, August 22nd, 23rd, and 24th.
The venerable veterans fro far and near commenced to arrive Wednesday and tents were pitched, wood for fires secured and every preparation made for a comfortable and enjoyable time. Many of the soldiers came for the day only and did not take tents, but not withstanding the fact that there were a large number furnished, there were not enough to supply the needs and the buildings of the Burt County Agricultural Society were used.
Plenty of good water was on the ground so no one needed to go dry, and very few gambling games were allowed, in fact none of any consequence. The paddle game was bitten at by some of the boys who were the losers of a few cents, but the games of amusement were well selected by the G.A.R. and showed that the thought of the poor reckless fellows who hadn't the brain power enough to let such things alone.
Col. L. W. Osborn, of Blair was the central speaker of the day on Wednesday and he did splendidly, being times loudly applauded. He said many good things, and to say that the veterans as well as the people appreciated them is to put it very mildly.
Col. John Patrick, of Herman was another of the speakers and as he had been here many times before as a friendly comrade and as an orator, it is needless to say that the people were very thankful to have his encouraging words. Col. Patrick asked such questions as these: "Where are the same boys that slept under the same wet blanket? Where are many of our friends of long ago? and he said he would feel his visit of no value if he had not done some good. He sketched a picture showing the horrible results to the majority of sons of the soldiers who drink and gamble and made an earnest plea for every inebriate to at once lay down the cup forever and aye and thus show by their lives that they have an interest in the upright living of their own children. He dwelt upon this until he brought tears to many a mother's eyes.
Comrade W. W. Brown said many good things, too but space prohibits us from entering into the detail of all subjects, so some will have to be contented with a favorable notice, but one sentence he said, "We did not win with a feeling of triumph," carries with it great weight and shows the true feeling of the men of the north, namely that it was the spirit of justice, and loyalty, and patriotism that led them to the action that freed our country of one of the greatest blotches that ever spotted any nation.
There were talks by others, some of whom we mentioned last week.
The band from Decatur and the Thomas drum corps of Mondamin, Iowa, which consisted of seven brothers, all married, assisted by some local talent from our own county, furnished the music for the occasion.
A pretty feature of Thursday's program was the one hundred little girls, who; dressed in pure white and each bearing a flag, stood in a line on either side of the gate between which marches the procession that had been to the depot to meet the Blair and Lyons delegation. These little girls sang "Marching Through Georgia." The afterwards marched about the grounds and then sang "America".
Thursday evening the threatening weather drove many from the grounds, yet of those present plenty remained to fill to overflowing the amphitheatre around the speakers' stand. Col. A. P. Mason was the master of ceremonies and introduced as first speaker Comrade Davis, who read a poem that proved of great entertainment.
Comrade P. L. Rork was next called. His response was filled with the hearty goodwill to fellowman and the true patriotism that has made Mr. Rork so popular in the G.A.R. Hon. Thomas Majors had been billed to speak the following afternoon, but the ordeal of the late campaign and the closing efforts at the convention had rendered himself too badly exhausted to be present. He sent his regrets by comrade Rork who delivered them in a way that revealed the warm love that lives in his heart for his comrade candidate.
Comrade M. G. Merrell was the third speaker. Mr. Merrell has resided in Tekamah for many years and neighboring towns and is known as a loyal Republican and staunch G.A.R. man and has a big, warm heart and an impulsive nature that causes him to deliver on such occasions speeches brimming over with love and sympathy to his fellowman and loyalty and devotion to his country. One thousand soldiers possessed of the vim and energy of Comrade Merrell could today put to route a score of times their number.
Music by the quartet was next on the program as as before it was first class.
Mrs. W. W. Brown delivered a recitation that was splendid and was very much appreciated. Col. C. E. Barker's little daughter also recited a selection in a very excellent manner.
Comrade E. P. Worcester was then called for and in his modest and unassuming way responded. He spoke of the soldiers boys, of his country and of the reunions which have grown into hallowed sacredness. He proposed stories of war times and started by telling one of them.
Comrade Phil Gossard was next to respond to the call of the audience. He said he felt solemn and then he mentioned the internal discord that hangs like a cloud over our fair country. But anon he caught the infection of story telling from Comrade Worcester and told a story that brought forth peals of laughter and rounds of applause.
The quartet then sang a beautiful, sad piece composed by Mrs. W. W. Brown entitled "The G.A.R. Reveille." It gave much pleasure to all present and murmurs of compliments were heard all through the vast audience as the last notes died away.
Comrade White next spoke. He first spoke to the children of their great country, their loyalty to one flag and told them many things, which, if remembered and acted upon, will be an everlasting benefit to their country and to themselves an honor.
The patriotic remarks of Comrade White again brought Comrade Merrell to his feet, with face aglow with happy emotions, he endorsed the noble words of his brother comrade and added a few of his own.
Rev. W. W. Brown next took the floor. His talk was mostly devoted to eulogizing the soldiers. Rev. Brown's sympathies are with the soldier, many of them now old and broken down, but who, when he himself was young, were in the vigor of young manhood.
Colonel Mason told a war story entitled "Prayer Meeting on a Government Transport While Under Fire." It was very interesting and pleasing.
It is with all a touching spectacle to see these gray old men come together in their now small numerical strength and with voices husky with emotion and eyes bedimmed with tears, tell of the long, hard struggle they made to give down to posterity an unbroken union; to see love and devotion beam from their rugged features when their gaze rested on our nation's flag.
As we mentioned last week the sextette and male quartet did the singing and on the two last as well as the first day they rendered some very excellent music and were very highly spoken of.
Such were the demonstrations that closed the reunion on Thursday evening.
Friday afternoon there came the great occurrence, the much advertised sham battle. Commander C.E. Barker and Captain Harry Mason, were in charge of the Veterans and Sons of Veterans, while Lieutenant A.M. Anderson commanded Company H of the Nebraska National Guards, the attaching party, and for a few minutes things were very likely for both parties. Both sides engaged in the battle as if it were real, and we understand that it was pretty hard to get the old veterans to understand that it was really a sham. They could hardly be blamed for this, however, as their old spirit, doubtless kindled very easily. Will Chapman had his hand filled with powder and he was really the only true case Surgeon S.S. Skinner had for operation. Orderly E.P. Worcester did his whole duty in delivering and carrying messages.
The entire number of old soldiers registered during the reunion was one hundred and thirty-nine, an excess of twenty-eight over last year. It is estimated that on Wednesday the attendance would reach three thousand, while on Friday some estimate the crowd at five thousand people, while the more conservative think three thousand would be more nearly the number.
This is the third year that the reunion has been held here and each year the attendance has increased and the enjoyment been as good if not better each time. It certainly can't be said that our boys have not made a complete success of it every time. They have tried to please and have done so in every way. Judging from the good words spoken by outsiders we have reason to conclude that no one had any room for dissatisfaction.
On Friday the soldiers had their business meeting and elected Chas. E. Barker, of Tekamah, colonel; W.L. Ireland, of Craig, Lieutenant Colonel; Waldo Lyon, of Lyons, major; Kin Hancock, of Tekamah, Sergeant; I.C. Jones, of Silver Creek, Chaplain. The officers elect will decide where to hold the next gathering and we wish for these "old stagers" the harbingers of peace, the protectors of our country, as good a time, and better if possible, than they have had here the past three years, wherever it may be directed to be held. Any may as many meet face to face next year as there did this, without the loss of a single one, although this is improbable inasmuch as since the last meeting a half dozen of our brave heroes have crossed over to the great unknown and the families and friends are left to mourn their departure. This calls to mind that old song that you all know, "One by One are Dropping From the Ranks," many of you have sung and shed tears over; doubtless many of you remember that old poem in the fourth reader that describes a young grandson asking questions about the war and telling grandpa that he finds "many of them hereabouts," holding up a skull, and you know how the little fellow's curiosity was aroused and he sits down on his grandfather's knee and begins thus: "Tell us all about the war, And what they killed each other for." It's needless to repeat it, for you all know it and don't you know that many a young boy's mind is aching just at the present time to know about these same things and do you take the time in telling your children the reasons for these "things?" If not, why not? Let them know the causes and also the privations of war that they may fully appreciate the solemnity of its declaration, and understand the sacrifices of good, loyal human souls that such a declaration carries with it. Instill the same principles in them as it is through them our country must be protected in the future.
We had almost forgotten to say that the W.R.C. placed itself extremely high in the estimation of the soldiers when they surprised the veterans by furnishing them with a free dinner and a beautiful badge. Last year they furnished free ice cream and cake, this year a most refreshing dinner. The W.R.C. deserves great credit for its kindness and too much cannot be said in praise of its needful assistance. Long live the W.R.C.and the Burt County Veteran Association
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©1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Bill Wever