Highland News Leader

Highland Home Museum has mustered quite a bit of info on local war veterans, but there's room for more

Roland Harris
Roland Harris

The Highland Home Museum War Veterans Cabinet is well on its way.

The World War II section has more than 400 photos and a whole lot more information but we have room for more.

We are starting to get more Korean War veterans' photos and information but very few veterans of the later conflicts.

Our War Veterans Cabinet starts with the Revolutionary War, the Black Hawk War of 1831-33 and other Indian conflicts, Mexican War of 1845, Civil War 1861-1865 (both for the Union and the local Confederate soldiers), Spanish War of 1898, Korean Conflict and other recent wars. All these are on the east side. Then, on the west side, we have World War I and World War II.

The World War II binders got off to a big start, with the Farmers & Merchants Banks weekly column in the Highland News Leader, called “With the Colors,” started by then bank president Julius J. Spindler. At the start of World War II, they urged all service people to send in a letter with service information and/or photo, and they would have the photo and some information in the column in the Highland News Leader. It drew a great response.

When the Farmers & Merchants Bank was sold to Eagle Bank, the original photo albums of the service people were given to the Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library. Over the years, the scrap book photo albums became dilapidated; the pages were removed and put into a box, for preservation. LLibrarianAngie Kim and her staff arranged the photocopying, and now we have a photo, name and/or information for each of veterans that were the Highland News Leader columns.

The next great news was the scrap book of Mrs. Leta Weder Oestringer was given to the Highland Home Museum by her son, Larry Oestringer. The scrap book was also coming apart, but we completely dismantled it, cut out each photo separate and put the information and newspaper copy that she had pasted into her scrapbook into our new binders for preserving. Leta’s scrap book's inside cover, contained her signature, and the cover will be preserved on in the cabinet.

Revolutionary War Veteran Michael Deck’s information and a photo of his Revolutionary War gun has been framed and will be one the items on the north side of the cabinet; it will also be in the Revolutionary War binder.

Most of the people who have brought in war veteran information, especially Revolutionary War information, have just one war veteran. To belong to the Daughters of the American Revolution, you must prove to the DAR that your descendant was in the actual Revolutionary War or gave aid are a direct descendant.

Jeanette Jegel Hammel of Highland has information that for her fifth-generation grandfather, Lt. Burwell Grigg. He was born 1755 in Brunswick County, Virginia, and died in 1835 in Bond County, Illinois. Grigg served in the American Militia during the Revolutionary War, and his youngest son, Jesse Grigg, born in 1795, served in the War of 1812 and died in Bond County in 1870 and is buried in Hastings Cemetery.

Other relatives who were Revolutionary War veterans included Burwell’s two brothers, Woodford Grigg and Lewis Griggs; Charles Shaw, who was born in 1757 and died in 1851; and Thomas O’Neal, born in 1755. Also not proved are veterans Henry Ferrance and Hezikia Mitchell.

Jeanette also has proof her third-generation grandfather Elisha Paine, born in 1806, served in the Black Hawk War 1831-33. Paine died in 1871. Her great-great grandfather, 1st Lt. Joseph Thomas Fouke was in the Civil War and died in St. Clair County. Lt. Fouke enlisted in Bond County on Aug. 28, 1861, as 45 men were mustered into the 30th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, Company I, by Col. Phillip Fouke. They fought in the battle of Belmont, Missouri; then in the taking of Fort Henry; and then at the siege of Fort Donnellson, Tennessee on Feb. 13-15, 1862; then with Gen. U.S. Grant at the battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi in May 1863; then Raymond, Jackson, Champion, Hills and Black River Bridge, all in Mississippi. They were then assigned to Gen. Sherman’s march through the Carolinas and to Richmond, Virginia, when the war ended. They took part in the Grand Review at Washington, D.C.

Jeanette’s father, Elmer Jegel, and her husband, Burnell W. Hammel, were both in World War II and both served in the U.S. Navy.

Burnell Hammel was in the class of 1943 at Highland High School. He went into the Navy before the class graduated.

Our class of 1943 was celebrated our 60th anniversary at the 2003 Highland High School Graduation Ceremony. The graduation services were underway, when they announced, “World War II Veteran Burnell W. Hammel will received his diploma 60 years after his enlistment." It was so great to be in attendance when Burnell "Tony" Hammel, finally received his diploma. We had a lot of lumps in our throats and a tear in the eyes at Tony’s wonderful evening. This story was in the Highland News Leader on June 3, 2003, and we will have Burnell’s diploma story, his service information and photo, along with his father-in-law Elmer Jegel's and the other veterans information listed in this column, in the Highland Home Museum War Veterans Cabinet.

The class of '43 is planning to celebrate our 75th Anniversary at this year’s graduation. Unfortunately, Burnell wont be in attendance, as he has gone to his eternal home.