The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 11.


From Earliest Days Sons of Porter County Volunteered For Service With Old Glory

Men of Porter county made a memorable contribution to the triumph of American arms in the brief yet bitter conflict between the United States and the Kingdom of Spain.

The tragedy of the Battleship Maine, blown up in Havana harbor February 15, 1898, with a resultant heavy loss of life, rushed American into the inevitable struggle and by spring of that year the entire nation was an armed camp in preparation for warfare on the Cuban, Porto Rican and Philippine Islands fronts. A few months later, in the same year, the war was over, and victory had been achieved. But the cost was terrific. Thousands of young men were killed in action or died of wounds or disease in the fever-ridden tropical camps.

Soon after President McKinley issued a call for 125,000 volunteers on April 23, 1898, Captain Charles F. Griffin, who was in command of a company at Hammond, Ind., wrote to Captain Stephen L. Finney, of Valparaiso, suggesting the reorganization of the Porter county company of national guard which had disbanded eight years before, and outlining a plan for the organization of a regiment in northern Indiana, to be ready in case a second call for volunteers came.

On April 27, 1898, a meeting was held at the Armory on Franklin avenue to organize a company. Colonel George S. Haste presided. Communications from Adjutant General Gore were read, and after some discussion it was decided to form a volunteer company. So many men responded that two companies were formed. One known as the "Hill Company," was commanded by Captain Wallace L. Wright, and the "Down Town Company" was commanded by Captain Stephen L. Finney. The former was not completed until May 30, when an organization was effected with the following company officers:

Wallace L. Wright, captain; C. H. Merritt, of Elkhart, first lieutenant; P. W. Mitchell, of Greenvillem Ill., second lieutenant. The muster roll of this company bore about fifty names, most of whom were students in the Northern Indiana Normal school. The "Down Town Company" effected its organization as of April 29, with S. L. Finney, captain; Roscoe C. Jones, first lieutenant; E. E. Small, second lieutenant, and a must roll of forty-five members. A third company was also formed with Frank Suman as captain; Fred Wood, first lieutenant, and E. E. Small, second lieutenant.

The second call for volunteers -- 75,000 men -- was made by President McKinley on May 25, 1898, and on June 6, Mayor I. C. B. Suman, of Valparaiso, went to Indianapolis for a conference with Governor Mount. Colonel Suman formally tendered the services of the company to the governor and filed the completed roster of the company, 105 names, with the adjutant-general. In furnishing the full quota of men required by both calls, the State of Indiana sent five regiments of infantry, two companies of colored infantry, two light batteries, and there were about 400 men from the state in the regular army. As there were but sixty-two companies of infantry enrolled from the ninety-two counties of the state, it was impossible that every county be represented by an organized company, and Porter county was one of the thirty which failed to secure such recognition.

While Porter county failed to send a company of men to Cuba, about one hundred of its citizens enlisted in various companies in this state and in Illinois regiments. Many of them were in the thick of the fray at Santiago and other battles. Some were wounded, while others were stricken down with tropical fevers, several death occurring. Later when the Philippine trouble arose, many of these men embarked for that county on the mission of putting down the insurrection.

On Tuesday evening, July 6, 1898, there was a meeting at the mayor's office in Valparaiso for the purpose of organizing a local United States sanitary commission to look after the welfare of the sick and wounded. I. C. B. Suman was chosen president of the commission; E. E. Small, secretary; Claus Specht, treasurer, and the other members were: William Freeman, W. L. Wright, Mrs. N. L. Agnew, Mrs. H. B. Brown, Mrs. J. E. Hall, Mrs. E. Ball, Mrs. H. M. Beer, Mrs. H. M. Buel, Mrs. J. S. Louderback, Mrs. J. W. Elam, Mrs. Aaron Parks and Mrs. David Turner. The newspapers of the city urged the people to make liberal donations to aid the commission in its work, but long after it was organized peace negotiations were commenced, and it never had an opportunity to do much active work.

More than a score of Porter county men saw service with American land and sea forces in the Philippine Insurrection, fomented by the island leader, Emilio Aguianido, resulted in untold sacrifices and suffering before the smoke of warfare was lifted and peace once more reigned over the Pacific island territory.

After the close of the Spanish-American war and the return of the volunteer regiments from the Philippine Islands, those who had served during the conflict organized the Spanish-American War Veterans' Association. Kindred organization were formed in various parts of the country, and on April 18, 1904, the various societies were merged into one, under the name of the United Spanish War Veterans.

On July 16, 1903, nine months before the merger, Specht-Bremmer Post of the Spanish-American War Veterans was organized in Valparaiso with Henry Schlebohm as commander; Winfield Scott, senior vice commander; Earl C. Dowdell, junior vice commander, Walter C. Baum, adjutant; Arthur E. Sager, quartermaster; Henry E. Bortell, chaplain; August Larson, officer of the guard; John Bell, officer of the day. The membership roll was signed by eighteen Porter county boys who enlisted for service in the War with Spain.

Included in the membership were Clarence Bell, trumpeter, 1st Illinois Cavalry; Emerson L. Bowser, Co. A, 101st Indiana Volunteer Infantry; Walter E. Baum, Sergeant, Company G, 13th U. S. Infantry; Oliver M. Reid, Corporal, Company I, 20th U. S. Infantry; Arthur E. Sager, Private, Company H, 159th Indiana Volunteer Infantry; Earl C. Dowdell, private, Battery K, 5th U. S. Artillery; Winfield Scott, private, Company K, 10th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry; Harvey B. Bortell, private, Co. M, 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry; Roy L. Pearce, private, Troop I, 1st U. S. Cavalry; William Ollin, Corporal, Company H, 43rd U. S. Volunteer Infantry; Henry Schlobohm, Private, Troop K, 1st U. S. Cavalry; William H. Varner, 1st class Private, Company B, 2nd Engineers; Ira Honefinger, Private, Company B, 5th Illinois Volunteer Infantry; Percy V. Ruch, Sergeant, 39th Coast Artillery; August Larson, Private, Company L, 161st Indiana Volunteer Infantry; Claire L. Boughton, Corporal, Company G, 28th U. S. Volunteer Infantry; John Bell, Sergeant, Company G, 12th U. S. Infantry.

The Specht-Bremmer post was named after two Valparaiso boys who paid the supreme sacrifice in the war, Carl Specht and Carl Bremmer.

The post flourished for a few years and then died out for want of interest.

No further attempt to maintain an organization was made until May 13, 1931, when a new camp was formed, called the Carl Specht camp, of the United Spanish-American War Veterans.

The camp has its headquarters in the G. A. R. room, at Memorial opera house. Charter members of the organization are: Henry L. Garrison, Leo L. Donley, James W. Marston, Edward O'Connor, Victor L. Springer, George W. Vann, Roy L. Pierce, Benjamin Trahan, James Dye, John Bell, Albert A'Neal, Edwin V. Walton, Benjamin Siercks, Albert Weise, Benjamin F. Hall, Earl C. Dowdell, August H. Pollentske, John H. Sullivan and Carl Ongman.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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