Silas A. Day

Mr. Silas Day in 1937
Mr. Silas Day in 1937
Mr. Silas A. Day was the last surviving member of Farragut Post, No. 27. He was born in New Albany, Indiana. His father, Silas C. Day of English ancestry, was a wealthy wholesale merchant of New Albany and a descendant of one of the families that came to America in the Mayflower. His mother, Harriet Newell McClung Day, was a native of Virginia a cousin of Rev. McClung who was drowned in 1856 during the session of the Presbyterian General Assembly at Niagam. She was also a descendant of General Samuel Houston of Texas and a niece of Patrick Henry. Both of his parents were members of the Presbyterian church and his youthful mind was greatly influenced by the lessons instilled by them.

At the age of 12 he attended the New Albany High School and at 17 was sent to the college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His collegiate course was cut short by the commencement of the civil war and he only remained at Oxford from the fall of 1860 until the spring of 1861. As soon as the call for three months men was made he enlisted in Captain Dodd’s company of the 20th Ohio Infantry Regiment. In later interviews he also indicated that he help recruit a hundred volunteers from among students.

In 1862, after two long periods of illness, he was mustered out. Because he never saw battle Mr. Silas didn’t speak often about the war and warned he wasn’t a “genuine” veteran. “I spent a lot of time at Morton Camp at Indianapolis where I was a quartermaster-sergeant, and even if I didn’t get into a fight, those were exciting enough days for anybody,” he said.

After mustering out Mr. Day went to Hanover College and graduated in 1863. Mr. Day was fond of investigating intricate and abstruse sciences so he acquired a strong taste for mechanics and theoretical and literary speculations. To pursue these interests more he went to Europe and attended the law department of the College of France in Paris for six months. While there he formed the acquaintance of George Alfred Townsend and Ralph Keiler, late editor of the Atlantic Monthly.

After his studies in Paris Mr. Day went to Germany and attended the Polytechnic Institute of Stuttgard and the University of Tuebingen, both in Wurttemberg, staying six months in each. Around this time he traveled throughout the world, visiting Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. His wandering ended abruptly when his father sent him a message in Paris: “Here is $100. See if you can make it home on that much.”

Returning home to New Albany, Indiana he began the study of law in the office of the Hon. M.C. Kerr, the former Democratic United States Speaker of the House of Representatives. Later Mr. Day hung out a shingle as an attorney, and was then elected county judge.

He was married on 3 June 1868 to Miss Mary E. McMillan, daughter of Robert and Mary McMillan of Cincinnati, who were natives of Ireland and Scotch-Irish descent. She was educated at the Cincinnati High School and the Hanover Academy in Indiana.

In March 1869 Mr. Day went to Kansas and located in Fort Scott where he formed a partnership with Judge Bowdon and continued the practice of law. In 1870 he was elected judge of the probate court, and then re-elected in 1872 and 1874. In 1876 he was elected a representative in the Kansas State Legislature and was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

When the narrow gauge road from St. Louis to Colorado was projected Judge Day was unanimously chosen president of the company formed in Kansas to build it and was an active worker in that cause. Mr. Silas was also a Grant delegate to the Republican national convention in Chicago in 1880. In 1887 he became the first mayor of Kanopolis, Kansas, and later represented his district in Congress.

In 1895 Silas returned to Indiana. After engaging in the coal mining business he became an abstractor in Evansville. His wife Mary died in Evansville in 1917. Mr. Day died on 8 February 1939 in the Indiana Soldiers Home in Lafayette, Indiana. He had two sons, Silas Charles Day and Robert A. Day, the latter of Houston, Texas.