On 8 February 2015 several members from our camp took part in a ceremony at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial to honor Abraham Lincoln and his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, on the week commemorating Lincoln’s birth. Soon after the Civil War veterans would hold reunions at the site of Nancy’s grave. For about the last 100 years the event has included a brief program at the Lincoln Memorial Center followed by a short pilgrimage to Nancy’s grave site led by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
Hilbert J. Gramelspacher, the son of Union Civil War veteran Joseph Gramelspacher, died on February 1, 2015 at the age of 95 years. Brother Gramelspacher was a member of U.S. Grant Camp No. 68 in the Department of Missouri.
Brother Gramelspacher’s father, Joseph, was born in 1848 in Jasper, Indiana. He enlisted at the age of sixteen in the 143rd Indiana Infantry regiment and would never talk about his war experiences. Joseph married his wife Mary Otillia Bettag on February 6, 1917. He was 68 and she was almost 24. It was the second marriage for both of them, with Mary having lost her family to typhoid fever. Joseph was a bricklayer and his brick house is still standing in Jasper.
Hilbert was just 11 when his dad died in 1931 at the age of 83. His father showed him his rifle, but gave it to his sister and her children who now have it. Hilbert and his sister and brother received a Civil War pension until he was 16. That pension money got them through the Great Depression.
Hilbert worked in a Civilian Conservation Corps camp for two years and served seven years and four months in the U.S. Coast Guard during and after World War II. He was a radioman on the ice cutter USS Comanche on the Greenland Patrol and on the destroyer escort USS Falgout on trips to North Africa. During his working career he was a Westinghouse appliance repairman and service manager in California where he worked in the homes of several celebrities, including Lucille Ball, Joan Crawford, Jerry Lewis, and Cybill Shepherd.
In honor of Brother Gramelspacher’s passing, SUVCW Commander-in-Chief Tad Campbell has issued Special Order No. 4, which orders an official period of mourning for thirty days, during which time charters are to be draped and mourning ribbons are to be attached to the membership badge. Only an estimated six real sons of Civil War Union veterans remain alive today.