Bio: Upham, William Jr. (Civil War History)
Surnames: Upham, Schoolcraft, Lincoln, Davis
----Source: Banner Journal (Black River Falls, Jackson Co., WI.) February 18, 2009
Upham, William Jr. (Civil War History)
Local veteran made personal connection with Civil War History
By Pat McKnight
Ken Schoolcraft touched a significant part of this country’s past when he met a son of a Civil War veteran. Schoolcraft had the chance to meet William “Bill” Upham, Jr. when he attended the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War’s (SUVCW) Banquet, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, held in Milwaukee.
In shaking hands with Upham, Jr., Schoolcraft felt he was able to shake the hands of a couple of the country’s greatest leaders. “All I can humbly say is that in shaking Bill Jr’s hand, I was also shaking Abe Lincoln’s and Jefferson Davis’ hand,” said Schoolcraft.
Upham’s father was seriously wounded in 1861 at the first battle of Bull Run. He was left for dead on the battlefield after being hit in the chest. He was taken to a confederate hospital where he recovered. The senior Upham was then traded in a prisoner exchange.
In addition to meeting President Abraham Lincoln, the elder Upham, also met Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy, when the Union soldier was assigned to guard Davis at Fort Monroe, VA.
After Upham resigned from the military, he was a mayor of Marshfield and ran for governor as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). He won the race and served one term.
After his first wife passed away, Upham Sr. remarried and the couple had two sons, one of which was William Jr. Now 92, Upham Jr. is also a veteran having served in World War II. He met George Patton in England and was wounded in France, receiving two Bronze Medals for valor.
Formed in 1866, GAR was the precursor of the SUVCW. Just before the passing of its last member, GAR designated SUVCW as its successor and the organization was incorporated in 1954 through an act of Congress.
SUVCW members have pledged to perpetuate the memory of the GAR and the men who served in the Union armies between 1861 and 1865. The organization also preserves documents and records pertaining to the GAR and its members. It also continues to honor those who served, teach patriotism and duties of citizenship.
Schoolcraft represented the Black River Falls American Legion and reconnected with friends he knew through organizing the Black River Crossing Civil War Re-enactments held in Brockway for several years in the early part of this century.
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