contact our Junior Vice Department Commander
2649 182nd St
Greetings from the Deptartment of Iowa's Junior Vice Commander. I would like to extend a welcome to those of you who wish to join our Order, or those who merely seek information. My job is to assist you in finding a Camp to join. Merely contact a member of the Camp you wish to join, or contact me and I'll get you set up. If there is no Camp nearby, you may wish to start a new camp with as few as FIVE members. You do not have to have a Civil War ancestor to join a Camp. We will do all we can to assist you. I look forward to hearing from you.
Major William L. Anderson, Jr., of the U.S. Army conceived the idea of designating U.S. 6 the
Grand Army of the Republic Highway to honor the Union forces during the Civil War. Based on his recommendation, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War began promoting the idea in April 1934. Because the highway was owned by the States, the organization asked each State to act on the proposal. The first to do so was Massachusetts when Governor Charles F. Hurley signed a bill on February 12, 1937, naming the route. Over the years, the States gradually adopted the name. For example, California did so in 1943 and Indiana in 1946, while Governor James Duff of Pennsylvania named the State's segment of U.S. 6 in 1948.
A formal dedication of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway took place on May 3, 1953, in Long Beach. The occasion was a gathering of the five related service organizations, including the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. The five organizations held their own meetings, but came together for the dedication on that Sunday afternoon to place a monument in front of the Municipal Auditorium: Extending a distance of three thousand six hundred fifty-two miles through fourteen states the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War worked to name the highway in memory of the heroic services and unselfish devotion of the Union soldiers, sailors and marines who laid down their lives on the altar of sacrifice during the Civil War.
The Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is currently undertaking a project to re-mark the Grand Army of the Republic Highway across Iowa.
The initial goal is to be sure that each town along historic U.S. Highway 6 that had a GAR Post in the past has signs placed in accordance with correspondence between the GAR and the State Highway Commission from 1947-1948.
For more information, please contact Dan Rittel, the GAR Highway Officer for the Department of Iowa SUVCW by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marker placed at Long Beach, California
Last Soldiers on the GAR Highway
On Saturday, June 30, Department of Iowa Grand Army of the Republic Highway Officer Dan Rittel and Department of Iowa Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War President Mary Rittel hit Highway 6 in Eastern Iowa for a parade and to mark the Last Union Civil War Soldiers in three Iowa counties.
The town of Victor along the historic route of U.S. Highway 6 in Iowa County was celebrating its Sesquicentennial and having a parade in which Dan & Mary represented the SUVCW & ASUVCW. Dan wore Civil War period uniform and walked the parade route while Mary drove the GAR Highway Jeep behind him with an SUVCW flag. Parades don’t happen in Victor every year, so the event had many entries and there were hundreds of people watching along the parade route.
After the parade, the Rittels visited the Victor Memorial Cemetery to mark the grave of Francis M. Isenhart, the Last Union Civil War Soldier of Iowa County. Isenhart had served with Company C, 75th Illinois Infantry and was also a member of I. M. Huston Post 394 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Victor. Isenhart passed away in 1938 at the age of 97. Not far from Isenhart’s grave is the grave of Isaac M. Huston for whom the Victor G.A.R. post was named. Huston was an assistant surgeon for the 8th Iowa Infantry.
The Rittels next travelled to West Liberty, another Highway 6 town. There, in the Oak Ridge Cemetery, the grave of Charles F. Regnier, the Last Union Civil War Soldier of Muscatine County was marked. Regnier had served with Company H, 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Regnier passed away in 1942, less than two months shy of his 97th birthday. Records indicate Regnier was also a member of Silas Jackson Post 255 of the G.A.R.
After enjoying a cool treat at the Wilton Candy Kitchen, the Rittels headed back West to the Highway 6 town of Grinnell and the Hazelwood Cemetery where they marked the grave of the Last Union Civil War Soldier of Poweshiek County, Charles Van Doren. Van Doren had served with Company B, 155 Illinois Infantry and was a member of Gordon Granger Post 64 of the G.A.R. in Grinnell. Van Doren passed away in 1940 at age 95. Van Doren had a fond memory of shaking hands with Abraham Lincoln. Van Doren’s father and Abraham Lincoln were acquaintances before Lincoln became president and when Charles was a boy of about 13, he was with his father at a Lincoln speech and was able to shake hands with the future president.
September 28, 2017, marks the 70th Anniversary of the formal dedication ceremony to name
U.S. Highway 6 across Iowa as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway.
It was at 2:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, September 28, 1947, when Iowa’s two remaining Civil War veterans James Martin and Ebenezer McMurray came together at the Old Capitol Building in Iowa City with Governor Robert Blue, other dignitaries, and a crowd of about 400 people for the formal dedication of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. As the proposed marker sign for the highway was unveiled, Governor Blue proclaimed “the deeds that Civil War veterans performed have not been forgotten.” (Iowa City Press-Citizen, 29 September 1947, p. 1) And, “We dedicate this highway today as a symbol of unity between these 48 states from coast to coast, to the vision of the boys of the Civil War, and to the future, for these men have left to us a heritage of freedom.” (Des Moines Register, 29 September 1947, p. 1)
Congratulations to Dan Rittel, 2017 recipient of the SUVCW Meritorious Service Award for his efforts on the Grand Army of the Republic Highway - Iowa
Iowa towns that previously had a G. A. R. post through which US Highway 6 passed in 1947
the year the Grand Army of the Republic Highway was dedicated in Iowa:
Davenport - August Wentz Post #1
Wilton - Henry Seibert Post #250
Atalissa - Charles Mitchner Post #362
West Liberty - Silas Jackson Post #255
Iowa City - Samuel J. Kirkwood Post #8
Marengo - John Dillon Post #233 & Col. John Connell Post #499
Ladora - W. B. Bricker Post #145
Victor - I. M. Huston Post #394
Brooklyn - John T. Drake Post #321
Grinnell - Gordon Granger Post #64
Newton - Garrett Post #16
Colfax - E. D. Duncan Post #253
Altoona - Dorr Post #62
Des Moines - Kinsman Post #7, Crocker Post #12 & Hooker Post #21
Waukee - Thornton Post #303
Adel - Col. Mills Post #45
Redfield - Marshall Post #43
Dexter - Wadsworth Post #36
Stuart - Maxwell Post #14
Menlo - McMillen Post #430
Casey - John Stanfield Post #359
Adair - Washington Post #135
Anita - Meade Post #50
Wiota - James Cantwell Post #99
Atlantic - Samuel Rice Post #6
Oakland - William Layton Post #358
Council Bluffs - Abe Lincoln Post #29 & H. Osborne Post #407
There are now new Grand Army of the Republic Highway marker signs up in most of these towns. Hopefully, all can be marked within the next year.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has proclaimed September 28th, 2016, as "Grand Army of the Republic Highway Day" in Iowa, to honor the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was on that day in 1947 that Governor Blue signed the original proclamation.
Beginning in 2007, the Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War began memorializing Iowa's Civil War Generals by naming bridges along the Grand Army of the Republic Highway through Iowa in their honor. Eleven bridges have been named in honor of twelve Generals.