Before there was an American Legion and before there was a Veterans of Foreign Wars, there was the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.).
It was the largest and most powerful of all Civil War veterans' organizations in the late 19th century... A political dynamo, it could elect or defeat presidents.
Rebecca Urban, Administrator of the Peninsula Foundation, will speak on the G.A.R. on March 7 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Cuyahoga Falls. Sponsored by the General A. C. Voris Camp of the Sons of Union Veterans, the 7 p.m. meeting is free and the public is welcome.
The Peninsula Foundation oversees 22 different buildings and several green spaces in Peninsula.
As the Foundation's web-site states, its role as "loving caretaker" for all these buildings is not easy. "Owning and maintaining these structures, most of which are over 100 years old, are very daunting tasks for our nonprofit organization with a small staff."
The crown jewel is the G.A.R. Hall, one of only two such structures left in Ohio. The George L. Waterman Post, the last G.A.R. post to be established in Summit County, met there.
Ohio had over 800 local "posts." Several were located in Summit County including Akron's Buckley Post and Cuyahoga Falls' Eadie Post.
Becky began as an intern in 2005, while at the same time working on her B.A. in History from the University of Akron. In 2007, she was promoted to archivist. Urban was appointed Administrator in 2010.
Becky herself is a descendant of both Confederate and Union soldiers.
Three of them, a father and two sons, fought with the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. They were Pvt. Jonas Urban, (the father who turned 50 while serving), Sgt. Jacob Urban and Private Joseph Urban.
Another Union ancestor, George Glasener, served with the 97th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and died of disease at Vicksburg.
Her Confederate ancestors include John Zehring who enlisted in Company K of the 7th Virginia Cavalry at New Market, Va. on January 13, 1863. He was badly wounded at Cedar Creek on Oct. 19, 1864. Another, Jacob Mathias, served in Company G of the 18th Virginia Cavalry.
"Because I am descended from Northern and Southern soldiers, I like to think it keeps me objective about my research."
There will also be G.A.R. items on display during the event.