PORT CLINTON The Civil War ended nearly 140 years ago, but Janett Calland believes the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history continues to shape the nation.
It s important, I think, to understand our Civil War heritage. It really tore our country apart brother against brother, she said. And it s still going on. Look at the civil rights movement.
The Port Clinton resident has several ancestors on her mother s side who served with Union forces in the war, and she hopes to find other area women with Civil War veterans in their family trees to form a local chapter of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The group was chartered in 1883 as an auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for Civil War veterans. Any woman with a blood kin relative who was a soldier, sailor, marine, or Army nurse in the Union forces is eligible to belong.
Membership once numbered in the thousands but has dropped to about 950 nationwide and 150 in Ohio, said Janice Corfman of Holmes ville, Ohio, the group s national treasurer. It s been declining, she said. The younger people are not that interested in such things. We do get a few, but they have other things that seem to be more important to them at the time. A lot of times, we have ladies who are married with small children, and their family life somewhat consumes their time.
For the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, most group activities involve Civil War-related ceremonies.
Ms. Corfman said members go to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa., every Nov. 19 to commemorate the dedication of the cemetery there in 1863, which included President Abraham Lincoln s famous address. They also participate every Feb. 12 in a wreath-laying ceremony in Washington to mark Lincoln s birthday.
Ms. Calland, who began researching her family s Civil War roots in the mid-1990s, has belonged to a Ladies of the Grand Army circle based in Pomeroy, Ohio, for the past few years. She thinks the time is ripe for a circle based in northwest Ohio.
There s interest in the Civil War, she said. A lot of women, I m realizing, don t know about their Civil War history.
Ms. Calland said she learned about her Civil War ancestors by doing research at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont and online through the National Archive, which holds all Union
Her relatives who served in the war include a great-great grandfather, Pvt. Daniel Baker of Republic, Ohio, who served in the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and was lucky enough to escape being captured, wounded, or killed during his service.
His unit fought with Gen. William T. Sherman into Georgia before that famous Ohio native headed east. The 3rd Ohio Cavalry stayed in Georgia and Alabama through the end of the war.
Yesterday, Ms. Calland visited in her home with two friends from Elmore, hoping to persuade them to join a new circle. Murlyn Schneider and her daughter, Jane Schneider, have several family ties to the war, including Pvt. Stephen Burkett, a Sandusky County resident who served in the Union army from September, 1864, to January, 1865, when he died of the measles in Tennessee. Private Burkett is the great-great grandfather of Jane Schneider. Murlyn Schneider's great-grandfather, Henry Bothe, served in the Union Army.
The older Ms. Schneider said she and her daughter are interested in learning more about the war and their family s involvement in it.
Both women joined another Civil War group, the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, last year. Ms. Calland also belongs to the organization, which limits membership to direct descendants great-granddaughters, great-great granddaughters, etc.
We re new to this, Murlyn Schneider said.
Contact Steve Murphy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6078.