Injuries Suffered in Fall Prove Fatal to "Uncle Bill" Stafford, Age 92

Military Funeral To Be Held Monday

With the passing of "Uncle Billy" Stafford, who proudly marched away to war when he was 15 years old, DeKalb county’s part in the great Civil conflict becomes but a faint, second-hand memory. Auburn’s only link to that history-making epoch of American history was Corporal William H. Stafford, 92, of 1428 South Wayne Street, who died Friday night at 7:30 o’clock at his home from injuries received in a fall last Saturday from the porch at his home.

Funeral services for Auburn’s grand old man of the Grand Army of the Republic will be held Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock (DST) at the residence, with a nephew, Rev. Joseph Ferguson, in charge of the services. Burial will follow in the Woodlawn cemetery. The body was removed from the Dilgard funeral home to the residence Saturday afternoon.

Full military honors will be accorded to Corporal Stafford by members of the Spanish-American war veterans and American Legion post of Auburn. They will conduct graveside services. Taps will be sounded by Raymond Quance, and echoed by Wesley Clark, Auburn Boy Scouts, Salutes will be fired by a firing squad.

Mr. Stafford was one of six brothers who volunteered their services to the Union during the Civil war period. Every one of them—Thomas, Joseph, John, William, Samuel and James of Jackson township—held an unusual record, inasmuch as each saw action under heavy fire and escaped injury or death during the period of the war.

Enlisted Twice in Army

Corporal Stafford enlisted twice, the first time in August, 1863, when he was 15 years old but "big for his age," with the eighteenth regiment of Indiana Volunteers for six months’ service. Eight months slipped by, though, before he received his official discharge papers from the government, and the youth then came back to his Jackson township home. After only five days at home young Stafford re-enlisted, this time with the thirtieth regiment.

With the thirtieth the lad saw real action, not just the intermittent skirmishing that had characterized his previous time of service. Joining his corps at Rocky Face Mountain, Ga., the company was under fired for a period of 104 days. This corps—the Fourth Indiana—was included in Sherman’s march on Atlanta. Corporal Stafford participated in the actual taking of the city, when the northerners surrounded the town and tore up the railroad. At Lovejoy Station near Atlanta, Auburn’s veteran was one of a group of who forced a southern detachment to retreat. When morning came, the troop was ordered into Atlanta, and so the fall of the strategic southern stronghold became history.

When Sherman made his triumphant march to the sea, he left the fourth corps in Atlanta for protection there. However, the south drove the corps to Nashville. At Franklin, Tenn., the south made an offensive move, and there was a four hour fight there in the evening. When midnight came, the Blues got word that they were being cut off from aid and supplies, and the corps, of which Uncle Billy was a member, marched three days and three nights with the opposing army at their heels. When the fourth got to the fort at Nashville, after several days of rest, the Confederates besieged the fort in a three-day fight. Thousands surrendered to the Blues there, and at the close of the three days, those left retreated, hastily marching to re-force Lee’s badly crippled forces.

The fourth Indiana followed the retreaters as far a Knoxville, and it was there that word of peace at Appomattox reached the contending detachments of the two armies.

Corporal Stafford, then 17, thought that army life was all over for him, but he soon found out differently, when he received word that he was to be a unit in a detachment sent down to lower Texas to protect the Mexican border, during the brief, hectic three years of Maximilians reign as emperor of Mexico. So he made the trip—going down the Tennessee river to Paducah, Ky., and from there in a riverboat down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, thence across the Gulf of Mexico to Indianola, Texas. Since all was quiet on the Mexican border, as the country had enough internal problems without grasping at other property, the detachment was mustered out of service, and Mr. Stafford returned to his Indiana home.

The next spring he hired out to a farmer for $13 a month. Later on he became a timber buyer for the old Nickey and Gandy mill here, as well as a horse buyer. He had been retired for many years.

Attended Gettysburg Reunion

Last summer the aged veteran attended the national convention of the survivors of the Blue and the Grey at Gettysburg, Pa., and stayed for ten days in the tent city erected on 80 acres of land there. Uncle Billy thoroughly enjoyed himself, talking with veterans from all over the United States.

Mr. Stafford and his daughter, Mrs. Hattie Davis, for many years lived during the summer months at Lake Levine, Branch county, Mich., where Uncle Billy fished every day that the weather permitted. His hobbies were fishing, and talking about the Civil war and republican politics.

William Stafford was born January 16, 1847, in Highland county, Ohio, a son of John and Maria Enis Stafford. When he was small child the family moved to DeKalb county. There were ten children in the family, eight boys and two girls, all of whom have died except one sister. In January of 1870, Mr. Stafford and Miss Mary Jane Walters of DeKalb county were married.

He was a member of DeLong post No. 67 as long as it was maintained here, and also held membership in the Bass-Lawton post at Fort Wayne. For forty years he was a member of the Auburn Knights of Pythias lodge. He was also an honorary member of the Lions club.

Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Hattie Davis, who resided with her father, and Mrs. Maude Shilling of east of Auburn; one granddaughter, Mrs. Bonnie Mitchener of southeast of Auburn; four great grandchildren and a sister, Mrs. Lida Long of Sturgis, Mich. In addition the following nieces and nephews also survive: Mrs. Flora Green, 702 South Van Buren street, Auburn, Mrs. Clara Ashelman of 215 West Thirteenth street, Auburn and Mrs. Ora Smith of Chicago, who has been aiding with the care of her uncle since Sunday.

Corporal Stafford was the only Civil was survivor in DeKalb county until Parker N. Ingalls, 92, of Anderson, moved to the home of his son, Dr. M. E. Ingalls at Garrett, several weeks ago.

(Reference: Obituary Book Vol 7 pt 1 pg 30)

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