For Veterans Day: Anecdotes of Civil War Vets (part 2)

Introduction: In this article, in honor of Veterans Day, Melissa Davenport Berry shares more fun and even startling stories about Civil War veterans. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.

In honor of Veterans Day, here are some more anecdotes about Civil War veterans.

Civil War Vet: Handled More Millions than Morgan or Rockefeller, 1913

Major Dorman Lewis “Dormie” Noggle (1841-1914) was the son of David Noggle and Anna Melissa Lewis. He volunteered in the Twelfth Battery of Janesville, Wisconsin, during the Civil War. After the war, he personally handled more wealth than any of the Gilded Age’s millionaires.

An article about Dorman Noggle, Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper 8 September 1913
Jackson Citizen Patriot (Jackson, Michigan), 8 September 1913, page 9

This article reported:

Maj. Dorman L. Noggle, a veteran of the Civil War, has handled more millions than Morgan, Rockefeller, or any other money magnates in the world. Over 2,000,000,000 [billion] dollars have passed through his hands in the last forty years.

And what has Maj. Noggle done with all this wealth? It is all in circulation. Perhaps some of it is in the hands of Rockefeller or maybe Carnegie. Maj. Noggle hasn’t kept any of it. He couldn’t. It wasn’t his. It belonged to Uncle Sam – to you and me. For Maj. Noggle works in the United States Mint. He is deposit weight clerk. All the gold and silver that goes into the mint to be made into coin is weighed by Maj. Noggle.

Maj. Noggle came to the mint in 1874 and has been there longer than any other employe in the service.

“When I first entered the mint service,” said the major, “California and the Comstock were at the height of their bonanza days. I have handled the dust and bullion of all the celebrated millionaires of that early and picturesque time. I have weighed as high as $4,000,000 in a day.

“I have become so accustomed to seeing gold in large quantities that it looks cheap – like so much junk – and I don’t place any great intrinsic value upon it.”

The major sat by a truck loaded with several thousand dollars’ worth of gold ingots, stacked up like so much pig iron waiting to be melted in an iron foundry to make window weights.

“Most of our gold comes from California and Alaska. California is still the greatest gold producing state in the Union.

“It doesn’t take very many pounds of gold to make a man rich, because fine gold is worth $20.67 an ounce and standard metal brings $18.60.

Major Noggle served with Grant during the Civil War and was in some of the hardest battles during that great general’s campaigns. The hardest fighting that the major took part in was around Richmond in the last days of the war.

Civil War Vet: Skied down Mountain at Age 101, 1939

Charles Jennette (1837-1942) was a lumberman, husband, father, and true patriot who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg and the Virginia campaigns. At the age of 101, he amazed onlookers with his skiing prowess.

An article about Charles Jennette, Dallas Morning News newspaper 23 January 1939
Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 23 January 1939, section II, page 7

This article reported:

Charles Jennette, 101, Civil War veteran of Old Forge [New York] who walks a mile and half daily, skied down an Adirondack Mountain slope with grace and ease to amaze onlookers.

To those who marveled at his ability, Jennette explained:

“Now, when I was a little younger, we’d cover trails that aren’t even thought of now. And when we came down those hills, we didn’t creep either – we really took off.

“This youth must be served stuff is a lotta hooey. Why, I just came down that cliff as good as those imported fellows do – and what’s more, I’ll go right back up and do it all over again.”

He did.

His obituary noted his formula for longevity: “Be happy and have a good time.”

An article about Charles Jennette, Watertown Daily Times newspaper 19 December 1942
Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, New York), 19 December 1942, page 18

This article reported:

Mr. Jennette was unusually active for his age and enjoyed family gatherings. Each year on May 5, his birthday, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren held a party in his honor.

His formula for longevity was “Be happy and have a good time,” and he followed it through scores of years of a vigorous, useful life. Fishing and hunting were chief sources of recreation for him. He also found considerable pleasure in attending ball games and watching other sports events. He was also a dog fancier and he prized two Pomeranians, which he owned for years.

Civil War Vet: Hiked 20 Miles on 77th Birthday, 1922

Corporal Samuel Funk (1845-1925) served in B Co., 30th Indiana Infantry, and was wounded. He later joined K Co., 129th Indiana Infantry. He married Mary “Mollie” Ann Mickey and left many descendants.

This article described his ambitious plans to celebrate his 77th birthday.

An article about Samuel Funk, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel newspaper 16 November 1922
Fort Wayne News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 16 November 1922, page 1

This article reported:

Samuel C. Funk, who is a veteran of the war of the rebellion, and who will be 77 years of age on Friday, has planned a hike of twenty miles in celebration of the event. He expects to walk to Pierceton and return. [He did.]

Civil War Vet: 90-Year-Old Took 26-Year-Old Bride on 400-Mile Walk for Honeymoon, 1921

James Kennedy (1831-1925) served in Company B, 6th Regt., Tennessee Volunteers, Mounted Infantry. He married 1st Mary Frances Wright (1847-1903) and left descendants. It’s hard to say what was most remarkable about his sixth marriage – the fact that she was 64 years younger than he was, or that at age 90 he celebrated their marriage by taking his young bride on a 400-mile walk for their honeymoon!

An article about James Kennedy, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel newspaper 9 December 1921
Fort Wayne News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 9 December 1921, page 5

This article reported:

James Kennedy, ninety-year-old Civil War veteran, and his sixth wife [Nattie Jane], a “mere girl” of twenty-six, have reached Kennedy’s home at Dayton at the end of their novel honeymoon. The veteran’s age did not prevent him and his bride from walking the 400 miles from her home in Wynona, Tenn., to Dayton after their marriage. Kennedy had been an inmate of the soldiers’ home at Dayton with a pension of $50 a month. At Stearns, Ky., the couple were hit by a train as they sat down on the tracks to rest, but were uninjured.

Civil War Vet: Had Four Sons in WWI, 1918

William Harshman (1848-1925) served in Company H, Ohio 132nd Infantry Regiment. He married Margret Elizabeth Kerschner and had many sons and daughters, including the four sons who were serving in 1918: David Warren Harshman (1886-1955); Gilbert John Harshman (1887-1972); Charles Floyd Harshman (1890-1972); and Irven Harshman (1892-1972).

An article about William Harshman, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel newspaper 24 August 1918
Fort Wayne News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 24 August 1918, page 2

This article reported:

A family of one hundred per cent patriotism is that of W. M. Harshman, of Payne [Ohio], who served through the Civil War, and has four sons who are fighting to preserve the liberty for which their father fought.

I am happy to report they all survived!

I honor and give thanks to all veterans, and remember: “We Don’t Know Them All, But We Owe Them All!”

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Note on the header image: Grand Army of the Republic members at the 250th anniversary of the settlement of Dedham, Massachusetts, 1886.This photograph, originally taken in September 1886, was published in the Dedham Transcript, 21 May 1921. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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