Friday, June 3, 2016

Meet Pvt. Cornelius Quinn – Part 5

Lorain’s Memorial Day 1939 observance once again spotlighted Cornelius Quinn, and his infectious enthusiasm for serving as the last surviving Union soldier in Lorain County.

Under the headline, “LAST GAR VET SAYS HE’LL BE BACK IN 1940,” an article on the front page of the May 31, 1939 Lorain Journal stated, “Lorain’s 1940 Memorial day parade will not be without a Civil war veteran even next year, if Cornelius Quinn, 96, Lorain-co’s last surviving veteran, has his way.

“Quinn, who rode with Mrs. Pearl S. Murphy, Red Cross nurse, in an ambulance in yesterday’s parade, made a “date” with the nurse for Memorial day next year, Mrs. Murphy revealed today.

“Quinn has participated in some Memorial day parade every year since 1868, marching until recent years when infirmities of old age made it necessary for him to ride. He rode in an ambulance yesterday because it was more comfortable than an ordinary automobile.

“Yesterday’s parade, according to Quinn and many others who witnessed it, was bigger and better than last year’s and was one of the most colorful staged here for a long time.”

Sadly, despite his hopeful promise to be around for Memorial Day 1940, Cornelius Quinn passed away on April 8, 1940. The front page of the Lorain Journal on April 9, 1940 included this front page obituary.

‘Uncle Jim’ Quinn, Only GAR Soldier Left in County, Dies
Saw Action in Vicksburg, Alabama Campaign; Wounded Once

Cornelius Quinn, “Uncle Jim” to hundreds thruout Lorain and Lorain-co, is dead today at 96 and the last of Lorain county’s Civil War veterans is gone.

An illness which kept the aged GAR veteran confined to his home at 114 E. 20th-st for more than a year, but never stilled his stories of the war between the states, proved fatal at 7:30 p. m. yesterday.

Born in Cincinnati, Quinn entered the Union army at the age of 17. He saw three years of service with the 48th Ohio infantry, including action in the Battle of Vicksburg and the Alabama campaign, with only one injury.

Attended Reunion
“And that wasn’t enough to stop me,” he used to relate, proudly.

His last trip away from home and one which brought back his Civil war days was the 75th and last reunion of Civil War veterans, held in Gettysburg, Pa., in July of 1938.

There he met six of the men who enlisted with him at Cincinnati in 1860.

He brought back, too, the story of thin tent walls and sleepless hours while neighboring veterans “told some of the biggest lies I ever heard,” and he chuckled while he told it to show he really liked the tales.

Meets Uncle
One of his own stories of the war concerned his meeting face-to-face with an uncle, a member of the Confederate army, in a pitched battle across the river from Mobile, during the Northern army’s campaign into Alabama.

During his 28 years in Lorain, he was a regular participant in Memorial Day parades until illness kept him to his bed.

He had his own recipe for longevity. Including were morning and evening “chaw” of tobacco, two cigars daily and “the blacker the better,” and an occasional dram of whiskey.

Only a little more than a year ago he read newspapers without the aid of glasses and walked a mile on one occasion to attend a lodge meeting.

His greatest pleasure in life, especially in his last years, was the companionship of his two fox terriers, Teak and Brownie.

He had trained them to “sing” after a fashion and delighted in staging impromptu “recitals” for visitors, of whom he had many.

From 1870, when a smallpox epidemic struck Cincinnati, until 1939, he boasted of never having suffered a serious illness.

Only survivors are his wife, Alice, and a niece, Mrs. Esther Fisher, who lives in Lorain.

The body is at the Wickens Memorial. Funeral arrangements are to be announced tomorrow.

Cornelius Quinn rightfully received a proper military burial in Elmwood Cemetery. According to a small article on the front page of the Journal on April 10, 1940, “Members of the American Legion Post 30 and the Lorain Veterans of the Spanish-American war will unite in military rites, acting as pallbearers and firing a volley at the cemetery.”

No comments: