Thursday, June 2, 2016

Meet Pvt. Cornelius Quinn – Part 4

Steven Harris passed away in March 1937, leaving Cornelius Quinn as Lorain County’s last surviving Civil War veteran.

Harris’ gravestone at Elmwood Cemetery in Lorain
(You can read more about Steven Harris, including his Chronicle-Telegram obituary, at this link on It also explains the apparent confusion as to the spelling of his name.)

For Memorial Day 1937, Quinn rode in a special float prepared by Ray Urbanski and Luther Septor.

Best of all, the Lorain Journal sent reporter Jean Weaver out to interview Quinn. Her enjoyable article below appeared on the front page of the paper on June 1, 1937.

City’s “Last Vet” Good 
For Five More Years
And Quinn Expects to Ride in Parade Every 
Year; Served Under Gen. Grant

By Jean Weaver

Memorial day –

A day when a whole nation paid tribute to its soldiers who gave their lives on the battlefield for their country.

A day when Lorain’s “last man” lived not in the present or future, but in the past, away back in 1863, ’64 and ’65.

Ninety-three-year-old Cornelius Quinn, 114 E. 20th-st, Lorain’s only living veteran of the Civil War, sat on his porch swing yesterday afternoon and recalled the days of service in the army of Ulysses S. Grant, in the 48th Ohio regiment from Cincinnati.

Entered as ‘Mere Boy’
Born in Cincinnati, he entered the Union Army at the age of 17, against the will of his mother.

Quinn, the only one of his family to join the army, saw over three years of service without serious injury. However, he told of one instance when he was slightly wounded, but not too badly to keep on going.

Quinn took part in the Battle of Vicksburg and was also in the regiment that saw action in Alabama. It was while fighting across the river from Mobile, according to the aged veteran, that he met his uncle, a member of the Southern Army, face to face.

Quinn proudly told of how the crowd cheered when he passed yesterday at the Memorial day parade and of the flowers presented him by the G. A. R.

He’s ‘Last Man’
“I’m the last one, now, you know,” he remarked. “I never see any of the boys anymore, but I think about them a lot.”

“And I expect to live four or five years more,” he declared, “and ride in the Memorial day parade every year.”

The following year on Memorial Day 1938, Cornelius Quinn rode in the parade with George Fout, commander of the Disabled Veteran’s association, who also gave the principal address. Unfortunately, Quinn was unable to take part in the Washington Park ceremonies.

Did Quinn take part in any more Memorial Day observances? Stop back tomorrow to find out in the final installment of my look back at his unusual and exhilarating life.

No comments: