Highland News Leader

Grand Army of the Republic was formed by Civil War vets

The first meeting to plan for the Grand Army of the Republic of Highland, thought to be held at the Diamond Mineral Springs Hotel in Grantfork. Only seven men have been identified. Front row, second from left, on knees, is Henry Rutz; fourth is Rudolph Kaufmann; and seventh, Adolph Mueller. Back row, first man on the left is Anton Kraft; third is George Roth; seventh is Maurice Marcoot, in front of flag; eighth, seated in front of flag, is Anton Hundsdorfer. This identification was done by Robert Gerling in his booklet, “Highland: An Illinois Swiss Community in the American Civil War”. Original photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. John Marcoot and daughter-in-law Linda of Greenville. (Do you have additional names? If so please call, 654-5005.
The first meeting to plan for the Grand Army of the Republic of Highland, thought to be held at the Diamond Mineral Springs Hotel in Grantfork. Only seven men have been identified. Front row, second from left, on knees, is Henry Rutz; fourth is Rudolph Kaufmann; and seventh, Adolph Mueller. Back row, first man on the left is Anton Kraft; third is George Roth; seventh is Maurice Marcoot, in front of flag; eighth, seated in front of flag, is Anton Hundsdorfer. This identification was done by Robert Gerling in his booklet, “Highland: An Illinois Swiss Community in the American Civil War”. Original photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. John Marcoot and daughter-in-law Linda of Greenville. (Do you have additional names? If so please call, 654-5005.

Maurice Marcoot, on Oct. 4, 1866, married his sweetheart, Miss Mary F. Long, the daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Long of Deck’s Prairie. They had six sons and one daughter, Mary, who married Sam Michael, the butcher. They started farming in Leef Township and in 1882, Maruce was elected Leef Township clerk, serving for 12 years.

About 1890, they moved into Highland, on Pestalozzi Street. Maurice was an early insurance agent in Highland, with the German Fire Insurance Co. of Indianapolis, Ind. By 1899, he had a saloon on the east side of the Square.

Maurice and Mary Marcoot celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1916. Maurice died in 1925, and his wife “Fanny” died in 1928. They are buried at Highland City Cemetery.

The 1912 History of Madison County, on pages 991 and 992, quotes: “Michael Marcoot is one of the old and honored residents of Madison County, where he is known as a man of sterling integrity and worth. He and his wife are accorded the high regards of their fellow citizens.”

Maurice, besides serving in the Civil War, was also the founder of the Highland Grand Army of the Republic Post 437.

“In the years following the end of the Civil War, a reminiscing spirit and sense of pride was to remain in the hearts of the Highland area Civil War veterans. They were thought of as heroes and well respected in the community. Many of them had traveled through much of the South, an honor few other Highlanders could boast. Because of their experiences, there were many stories to tell and many battles to recall for years afterward.

“On May 4, 1884, Maurice Marcoot, with the help of many other veterans, organized the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post 437 in Highland.”

“It was the first such organization in Madison County, Illinois.” (Footnote 58,in Robert Gerling’s booklet, taken from Spencer’s Centennial History of Highland.)

The charter of the GAR post, with its original 28 charter members, can be seen in the archives of the Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library in Highland. The old charter is in pieces, but is now under glass. Check with Kathy Kessels, if you want to see the charter. Thanks, Kathy.

The post met on Saturday afternoons at several locations in Highland in the beginning. They met above Kinne’s Store on the northwest corner of the Square. They later gathered at Marcoot’s home and legal office on 9th Street. (I guess that is 9th and Pestalozzi, as I find that address also listed for the Marcoots.)

“The GAR post remained an active organization in Highland for 39 years, and for many of these years, they traditionally organized and led the Memorial Day services in Highland. The remaining members disbanded the organization in June 1924, when membership was rapidly declining. The last surviving Civil War veteran from Highland was Lawrence Neathammer. (Footnote 59, Highland News Leader, by Robert Gerling.) Mr. Neathammer died at the age of 89 on March 20, 1938. He was buried with appropriate military honors by the American Legion Post 439 of this city, at the Highland City Cemetery. (Footnote 21, Five Years in the Sunny South, Maurice Marcoot’s book.)

(Quotes from Five Years in the Sunny South, by Maurice Marcoot; Centennial History of Madison County, 1912; Highland: An Illinois Swiss Community in the American Civil War, by Robert Gerling; and additional information from Linda Marcoot and my files.)

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