Grand Army of the Republic.The membership of this patriotic order is composed of veteran Union soldiers and sailors of the Civil war. It was founded in the winter of 1865-66 by Dr. B. F. Stephenson and Rev. W. J. Rudolph of Illinois, the first post having been instituted at Decatur, Ill., April 6, 1866, and the first national encampment assembled at Indianapolis, Ind., on Nov. 20 following. The motto of the order is "Fraternity, Commemoration and Assistance," and its objects are to aid the widows and orphans of soldiers, collect relics, and erect monuments and homes to commemorate the valor of the Union soldier and provide for themselves.
Similar societies were organized in other states soon after the close of the war. Lieut.-Col. Henry S. Greene, of the Fourth Arkansas cavalry, located in Topeka in Sept., 1865, and in December organized a society of veteran soldiers and sailors which took the name of the "Veteran Brotherhood." Greene was elected commander of the first camp at Topeka, other societies were organized, and in June, 1866, a state convention was held at Topeka. In the Indianapolis convention or encampment in November, the Kansas Veteran Brotherhood was represented by Maj. Thomas J. Anderson. In Dec., 1866, another state encampment was held at Topeka, when it was resolved to transfer the Veteran Brotherhood to the Grand Army of the Republic. The camp at Topeka became Lincoln Post No. 1, which is still in existence, though it was discontinued for a time. There were at that time 32 camps of the Veteran Brotherhood in the state.
A provisional organization was effected in Feb., 1872, with W. S. Jenkins as provisional department commander. In 1876 Col. John Guthrie became provisional commander, and on March 16, 1880, Kansas was made a regular department of the Grand Army of the Republic. The first annual encampment of the state department was held at Topeka, beginning on Jan. 18, 1882. The past department commanders since that time have been as follows: J. C. Walkinshaw, 1882; Thomas J. Anderson, 1883; Homer W. Pond, 1884; Milton Stewart, 1885; C. J. McDivitt, 1886; T. H. Soward, 1887; J. W. Feighan, 1888; Henry Booth, 1889; Ira F. Collins, 1890; Tim McCarthy, 1891; A. R. Greene, 1892; Bernard Kelley, 1893; W. P. Campbell, 1894; J. P. Harris, 1895; W. C. Whitney, 1896; Theodore Botkin, 1897; D. W. Eastman, 1898; O. H. Coulter, 1899; W. W. Martin, 1900; J. B. Remington, 1901; H. C. Loomis, 1902; A. W. Smith, 1903; Charles Harris, 1904; P. H. Coney, 1905-06; R. A. Campbell, 1907; W. A. Morgan, 1908; Joel H. Rickel, 1909; N. E. Harmon, 1910; T. P. Anderson, 1911.
At one time the Grand Army of the Republic in the United States numbered over 400,000 members, but death has thinned the ranks until in 1910 the number was only a few over 200,000. The roster of the Kansas department for 1911 shows 498 posts in the state, with a total membership in excess of 10,000. The largest post in the state is Garfield Post No. 25, located at Wichita, which reported 444 members. The second largest was Lincoln No. 1, of Topeka, which reported 361. Some of the posts reported as few as 6 members, and others reported from 8 to 12, only 15 posts reporting over 100.
On various occasions the Grand Army of the Republic in Kansas has influenced legislation. The order was largely responsible for the establishment of the state soldiers' home, the orphans' home, and the erection of the memorial hall in Topeka. In 1885 an act was passed making it a violation of law to wear the Grand Army badge unless the wearer should be a member; in 1895 two rooms in the capitol were set apart by law for the Grand Army museum. In 1901 the sum of $1,000 was appropriated to provide furniture for storing relics, flags, etc., and at the same session the state authorities were directed to turn over to the Grand Army 312 tents to be used at encampments. In 1905 an appropriation of $1,500 was made to provide additional cases for the display of relics, etc.
The Women's Relief Corps, the ladies' auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, had its origin at Portland, Me., in 1869, when some women whose husbands belonged to Bosworth Post organized a relief society for local work among the needy. Within the next few years the women of other localities formed aid societies, etc., and in April, 1879, representatives of these societies from several states met at Fitchburg, Mass., and organized the Women's Relief Corps. The first state society to take that name was that of New Hampshire in 1880. In New Jersey the "Ladies' Loyal League" changed its name to the Women's Relief Corps in 1881. Two years later the Grand Army, in annual encampment at Denver, Col., recognized the Women's Relief Corps as an auxiliary, and the following year the first national convention was held.
In Kansas the first corps was formed at Leavenworth in 1883, by Mrs. Emily Jenkins and eleven other women. Mrs. Jenkins has been called the "mother" of the movement in Kansas. A state organization was effected at Mound City, April 28, 1896, when Lucy A. M. Dewey was elected president; Mrs. M. M. Stearns, secretary; and Mrs. Maria Hurley, treasurer. In 1910 were about 160,000 members in the United States, of which Kansas had a fair proportion. The principal officers of the Kansas corps for 1911 were: President, Lillian M. Hendricks; senior vice-president, Mary McFarland; junior vice-president, Kate Kilmer; secretary, Marian S. Nation; treasurer, Florence A. Bunn.Pages 772-774 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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