Collection Title: Grand Army of the Republic Collection

Collection Number: Ms. Coll. 107

Dates of Collection: 1868-1941

Box Numbers: 1 Box, 34 Folders

RepositoryChester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA 19380

Language: English

Project Archivist: Barbara Anne Beaucar


The first post of the Grand Army of the Republic formed in Springfield, Illinois in 1867.  Comprised of honorably discharged Union soldiers, their object was “to keep alive the patriotic sentiments of the war, to assist its poor and infirm brethren, their widows and orphans, and to assist the families of its members when the soldier husband and father passes away.”  Most of the items in this collection come from West Chester’s General George A. McCall Post #31. 

     The McCall Post #31 received its charter on February 19, 1867.  Its charter members were George F. Smith, James E. McFarlan, Hampton S. Thomas, Abraham Wanger, John A. Leslie, Dilwyn Parker, William W. Heed, Francis A. Taggart, Wm. B. Brinton, Francis C. Hooton, David Jones, and Alfred Rupert.  The McCall Post #31 occupied a variety of “rooms” over the years, moving from Church Street to Walnut and Market Streets, from the third floor of Henry S. Evans’s printing business to the upstairs of Odd Fellows Hall, and from the TalbotBuilding to the Post Office.  In 1903, Horticultural Hall (presently the Museum of the Chester County Historical Society) became its permanent home.  Donated by Mrs. L. A. Painter in memory of her husband, Uriah Painter, she and McCall Post #31 restored, repaired, and renamed the building Memorial Hall.

    The collection includes a few items from the General Henry R. Guss Post “A,” organized in 1909 also in West Chester.  The bankrupt estate of Major L. G. McCauley, Commander and Trustee of McCall Post #31, named the Post liable for debts incurred during the improvements to Memorial Hall.  As a result, some members of McCall Post #31 withdrew and, on August 3, 1909, sent a petition attached with 150 names to the Department of Pennsylvania praying for their own charter.  It was refused on October 7, 1909 because the G.A.R. considered it “against the interests to establish another Post in West Chester, PA.”  The policy was to consolidate posts rather than start new ones.  The veterans believed they were in compliance with regulations and organized themselves as the Henry R. Guss Association of Civil War Veterans.  And, without a charter, they continued to hold regular meetings, plan festivities, and publish resolutions until they disbanded in 1919.

    The McCall Post #31 survived the loss of membership and continued to be extremely active, holding weekly meetings, planning fairs and picnics, and fundraising.  They hosted the 2nd Annual Encampment of G.A.R. in Pennsylvania at the Court House in West Chester. 

    West Chester was also home to a third G.A.R. post, the General George F. Smith Post #130, comprised of African-American soldiers.  Organized in 1879 with the assistance of the McCall Post#31 and named for Gen. George F. Smith who led an African-American regiment, the Smith Post #130 replaced the former Post #80.  They held fairs to raise money to erect a monument to Gen. Smith in Oaklands Cemetery.  The Post held their meetings in the Adams Street School building and hosted suppers and lectures devoted to African-American issues such as slavery, secession, the black contribution to the Civil War, and the black rights after Emancipation.  In 1883, the Ladies’ Loyal League Auxiliary Corps organized for the “mutual benefit and relief of widows and children of deceased members.”

    Other African-American G.A.R. posts include the William Roberts Post #487 of Atglen, the Elizabeth Temple Post (formerly the Walker Post #138) of Avondale, and the Daniel Reed Post #599 which was organized on October 20, 1890 in Coatesville and met twice a month at Masonic Hall on Coates Street.  The Women’s Relief Corps #150 served as an auxiliary to the Reed Post #599.

    Coatesville’s other post, Brandywine Post #54, organized in 1878 and was said to be the largest in the state (outside of the cities).  It met on the third floor of Thompson’s Hall on Lincoln Hwy, held campfires, concerts, fairs, and picnics, and also had an auxiliary, the Women’s Relief Corps #159. 

    The Lt. Josiah White Post #45 of Phoenixville organized in 1867.  They held parades, benefit auctions and fairs, decorated graves, took the soldier’s orphans from Chester Springs School on holidays, and had regular meetings at the Masonic Hall until 1922 when they moved to a permanent home on Main Street.  The Women’s Relief Corps # 76 served as auxiliary to Post #45.  Nearby, the Corp. A. J. Grimm Post #152 of Spring City met in Mechanic’s Hall and held balls, festivals, and suppers.  They disbanded in 1888 only to reorganize in 1905.  

    The Wm. S. Thompson Post #132 organized in Oxford on May 28, 1879.  It began with forty charter members and held parades, programs, and regular meetings at Reed’s Hall on Locust St. before removing to the Morrison and Townsend Building on Market St.  The Post survived until 1927.  Other Chester County G.A.R. posts include, the John A. Ross Post #358 of Atglen and the Bernard Gause Post #34 of Avondale organized in 1881.  Though its membership was small, Gause Post #34, held picnics and festivals, joined Elizabeth Temple Post to place flowers on graves, and hosted visiting members of McCall Post #31. 

    Downingtown’s Winfield S. Hancock Post #255 began as the George Foundersmith Post in 1882.  It shares the Hancock name with Philadelphia’s Post #115.  In 1909, a rumor circulated that the seceding members of West Chester’s McCall Post #31 might join the members of the Hancock Post #255.  They had galas and picnics and held regular meetings at the corner of Stewart and Lancaster Avenues before removing to the Minquas Fire House in 1912.

 Sources: Grand Army of the Republic Collection and the CCHS clipping file.
[Additional G.A.R. material located in the Manuscript Collection]

Related Material:

List of related manuscripts filed elsewhere as numbered manuscripts and letters – these should be requested by number – example “Ms. 3116”


Bernard Gause Post #34

Account book, 1893-1909, Ms. 3122

Minute book, 1878-1887, Ms.3116

Minute book, 1887-1909, Ms. 3117-3121


Brandywine Post #54

            Black books, 1875-1895, Ms. 76882-76883

            Descriptive book, 1878-1916, Ms. 76884

            Minutes, 1878-1884, Ms. 76885

            Treasurer’s book, 1878-1888, Ms. 76881

West Chester:

George McCall Post#31

            Correspondence, 1900-1917, Ms. 5812-6061

Griffith, Abel, Ms. 7893

Jones, David, 1870, Ltr. 13850

List of Contributions, Ms. 76480

            McCormick, G. B., Ms. 29385

            Misc. Papers, Ms. 6062-6309

            Papers, Ms. 1241-1270

            Register of Members, Ms. 3009

Taylor, Thomas, 1867, Ms. 4657

Henry Guss Post “A”

Roll of members & minutes, 1909-1919, Ms. 78060-62

Collections Contents:

Series Title:                                   G.A.R. National Papers

Dates:     1886-1910

Quantity:     3 folders

Arrangement:     Chronological

Contents Description:

Includes a small published scrapbook, a book of services, pamphlets of rules and regulations, programs, and room rates pertaining to the Annual (National) Encampment, an engraved invitations, a facsimile of the original charter.

Box 1.

Folder 1. n.d., 1886-1890. 6 items.

     A small scrapbook published for the National Encampment in San Francisco (1886), a book of Memorial Day Services, a pamphlet of regulations, and a facsimile of the original charter of G.A.R. Post #1 Decatur organized in Springfield, IL, in 1866.

Folder 2. 1897-1910. 12 items.

     Annual Encampment:  includes General Orders, an invitation and souvenir booklet from the Twenty-sixth Annual Encampment in Washington, DC (1892) and the Thirty-third Annual Encampment held in Philadelphia (1899), booklet of rules and regulations for the Annual Encampment in 1905 and 1909, and a program, list of room rates, and a souvenir book for the Forty-fourth Annual Encampment held in Atlantic City (1910).

Folder 3. 1900. 1 item.

     An engraved invitation to the Thirty-fourth Annual Encampment in Chicago (1900).


Series Title:                                          Old War Songs

Dates:    1905-1910

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:    Chronological

Contents Description:

Includes books published for the G.A.R. and paid for by Chester County advertisers.

Folder 4. 1905-1910. 6 items.

    Old War Songs: books of patriotic songs published by S.R. Averill, a member of Bryson Post #225, Derrick City, PA and paid for by a variety of Chester County business advertisers. 


Series Title:                  John A. Ross Post #358, Atglen (Chester County)                                                         

Dates:     1884

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Contents Description:

Includes a small booklet containing the Constitution and By-Laws.

Folder 5. 1884. 1 item.

    A book containing the Constitution and By-Laws of the John A. Ross Post #358.


Series Title:            Bernard Gause Post #34, Avondale (Chester County)

Dates:     1892-1896

Quantity:     1 Folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Contents Description:

Includes medical papers, correspondence, and a purchase order.

Folder 6. n.d., 1892-1896. 8 items.

     A Mortuary Report, an order for flags, correspondence relating to Memorial Day services, membership, improvements to G.A.R. Hall. 


Series Title:                Brandywine Post #54, Coatesville (Chester County)

Dates:     1879-1921

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Contents Description:

Includes advertisements, invitations, list of officers, book of by-laws and rules of order, correspondence, and membership receipts.      

Folder 7. 1879-1921. 28 items.

    An ad for a benefit program featuring Rev. Waldo Massaros, invitations to meetings, a list of officers and committees, a booklet of by-laws and rules of order, papers concerning loans, receipts, papers of Edward Townsend [including a dog license tag removed to curatorial BAB 11/20/02], and a copy of a memorial sermon preached by Rev. Henry Wheeler at the Olivet Methodist Episcopal Church in Coatesville. 


Series Title:       Gen. W.S. Hancock Post #255, Downingtown (Chester County)

Dates:     1909-1911

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Contents Description:

Includes two Memorial Day expense statements.

Folder 8. 1909-1911. 2 items

    Two statements listing expenses for Memorial Day — band, horses, flags for graves, and ammunition for firing squad.


Series Title:        Elizabeth Temple Post # 138, Kennett Square (Chester County)

Dates:     1881-1911

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Contents Description:

Includes a published poem and an expense statement.

Folder 9. 1881-1911. 2 items.

     A published poem by Comrade Samuel S. Miller, Elizabeth Temple Post #138 and a list of expenses for speaker, flags, a team, and band for Memorial Day (1911).


Series Title:            W.S. Thompson Post #132, Oxford (Chester County)

Dates:     1909-1911

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Contents description:

Includes correspondence and expenses for Memorial Day Services.

Folder 10. 1909-1911. 4 items.

    Letters requesting financial assistance from the Commissioners of Chester County for Memorial Day Services in 1909 and 1911.


Series Title:   Gen. George A. McCall Post #31, West Chester (Chester County)

Dates:     1868-1936

Quantity:     14 folders

Arrangement:     Chronological

Content Description:

Includes General Orders and circulars from National Headquarters, Washington, DC and the Department of Pennsylvania, certificates, rosters and membership lists, articles about Memorial Hall [Horticultural Hall], adjutant’s reports, financial papers, correspondence, a book of rules and regulations, announcements and programs, a book of services, and a history of its cannon.

Folder 12. 1868-1869. 27 items.

    General Orders and circulars from Headquarters in Washington, DC and a program for Memorial Day services (1868).

Folder 13. 1868-1932. 32 items.

    General Orders and circulars, an invitation for a reception at the Academy of Fine Arts (1882), rosters (1892,1903,1923,1928,1929, and 1932), and a pension committee report.

Folder 14. 1864-1868. 38 items.

    Articles, an ad for photos of Andersonville Prison, “No Smoking” sign, song sheet, manuscript asking citizens of Chester County for monument, special event committee reports, a letter from Charles Lewis – a West Chester soldier in the South (1868), articles, and a prospectus and program for a concert at the Academy of Music benefiting the widows and orphans.

Folder 15. 1869. 31 items.

    Reports, correspondence, resolutions, articles, and a pension report concerning Charles Pennypacker and the widow, Mary Ann Chew.

Folder 16. 1870. 33 items.

    General Orders and articles about Memorial Day events.

Folder 17. 1870. 34 items.

    Reports, a list of charges against Charles Pennypacker [for “appropriating part of the pension money of a soldier’s widow and orphan child to his own private use.”], details of the court martial of Pennypacker, correspondence, prospectus and announcement of the Grand Army Journal, expense reports, and a list of post members wounded.

Folder 18. 1871. 33 items.

    By-laws and rules of order book, a directory, reports, invitations, correspondence, playbill for “The Old Flag” performed at Memorial Hall, and a list of charitable cash disbursements.

Folder 19. 1872-1889. 37 items.

    General Orders, Special Orders, relief reports, resolutions, a lease for a meeting room in the Henry Evans building, invitations, committee reports and details of concerning the court martial and conviction of post member Joseph Walton for passing counterfeit money, and details of court martial of George Paxton for embezzlement of Jubilee funds.

Folder 20. n.d. 1878-1887. 26 items.

    A book of by-laws and rules of order, articles, receipts, a treasurer’s report, a Decoration Committee report, General Orders, a book for a memorial service (1884), and a Campfire Committee report.

Folder 21. 1886-1895. 28 items.

    Adjutant’s Reports: each contains a roster of officers, muster roll, and losses of members.

Folder 22. 1888-1933. 27 items.

     Financial Reports: includes committee reports, a quartermaster’s bond, quartermaster’s reports, reports and an invitation concerning a marker placed on Wayne Field, statements of expenses for Memorial day, program for the dedication of Memorial Hall, and papers concerning the purchase of a post flag.

Folder 23. 1879-1909. @60 items.

    Receipts for entertainment, flags, badges, uniforms, and flowers for Decoration Day, financial committee reports, statements for membership dues, receipts for dues, printing, cigars and food.

Folder 24. 1903-1909. 6 items.

     Horticultural Hall: includes a small reproduction of Memorial Hall [Horticultural Hall] (1848), articles about donation of hall by Mrs. Painter, an article about renovations, an article and a Bill of Complaint from Court of Common Pleas against Levi McCauley et al (1909).

Folder 25. n.d. 1887-1932. 28 items.

    Invitations and programs for a charity concert, campfires, anniversary of post, anniversary of Memorial hall, meetings and suppers, unveiling of Memorial Tablet at Wayne Field (1904), and a printed patriotic song sheet. 

Folder 26. n.d. 1 item.

     A history of the cannon presented to the Schlegel Post of the American Legion by the McCall Post #31 in 1936.

Folder 27. n.d. 1904-1930. 6 items.

     A certificate of membership, a printed reproduction depicting officers, typescript copy of membership list [original in Manuscripts Collection], a list of those who died (1930), and correspondence.

Folder 28. n.d. 1906-1932. 11 items.

    Miscellaneous: includes an ad for a relic from Andersonville Prison, an ad for a book on women’s history, Woman’s Work in the War of the Rebellion, patriotic song sheets, a burial record book [unused], order forms for G.A.R. burial markers, articles, a typescript General Orders, and a program for a celebration at John Wanamaker Store (1932).


Series Title:         Col. George F. Smith Post #130, West Chester (Chester County) 

Dates:    1909

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Content Description:

Includes one hand written bill of expenses.    

Folder 29. 1909. 1 item.

    A bill of expenses including amounts paid for teams, flowers, a hired band, expenses for a fair, and the purchase of a cemetery plot in Chestnut Grove for indigent soldiers.


Series title:                         George G. Meade Post #1, Philadelphia

Dates:     1913-1916

Quantity:    1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Content Description:

Includes a printed letter.

Folder 30. 1913-1916. 1 item.

    A printed letter urging comrades to support an appropriations bill to pay for soldiers’ transportation to the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.


Series Title:                        Col. Fred Taylor Post # 19, Philadelphia

Dates:     1898

Quantity:    1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Content Description:

Includes Memorial Day services program.

Folder 31. 1898. 1 item.

     A printed program for Memorial Day services held at the Temple Keneseth-Israel and at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Philadelphia (1898).


Series Title:          Central Pennsylvania G.A.R. Association, Lancaster

Dates:    1907-1911

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:    Chronological

Content Description:

Includes General Orders and a program for a reunion in West Chester.

Folder 32. 1907-1911. 3 items.

    A program from the 11th Annual Reunion held in West Chester (1907), and two sets of General Orders (1907 and 1911) issued from headquarters in Lancaster, PA.


Series Title:             Grand Army Association, Philadelphia and Vicinity

Dates:     1896-1913

Quantity:    1 folder

Arrangement:    Chronological

Content Description:

Includes a printed memorial, printed committee reports, and a copy of House Bill 174.

Folder 33. 1896-1913. 4 items.

    A printed memorial to Comrade Joseph R. Craig, two printed committee reports (1912 and 1913), and a copy of House Bill 174 appropriating funds for transportation of soldiers to the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg (1913).


Series Title:       Sons of the Veterans of the Civil War Post #2, Philadelphia

Dates:     1935-1941

Quantity:     1 folder

Arrangement:     Chronological

Content Description:

Includes printed orders and program.

Folder 34. 1935-1941. 2 items.

     A campfire program at Memorial Hall (1935) and orders for Memorial Day celebration (1941).