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Chaplain Brown GAR Post 106 Commander John W Elam

John Elam

His grandfather, John came to Indiana from Logan Co Ohio in about 1830 residing in Fulton Co, near Lake Manitou. His grandfather was in charge of Government mill and the distribution of flour and supplies to the Pottawatomie Indians. After setting up a cabin, he sent for his family from Logan CO. Ohio, but died before they got here. John, his father, and brothers, settled on the farm in Fulton County for a short time to help get the farm in shape. After a short

time he got married and became a steam boat pilot and ran up and down the Ohio River for several years. He then came back to Fulton County and resided there until he died in 1874. He held a number of political offices in the community, including Township trustee, and Justice of the Peace. He continued farming. And he was a successful and prosperous business man and was one of the early merchants of Rochester, Indiana. He ran a stage line from Logansport to Plymouth, Indiana, in the 1850’s, and introducing the first saw mill in the county, ran it for some time. During the war he established a supply store at Nashville, Tennessee.

His son, John W, whom we are speaking about today, was born in Fulton Co, Indiana on the homestead in 1841. John W was very educated for the time, as his father made sure he finished HS in Rochester, and then went to the Valparaiso Institute.

In the Spring of 1862, he left school and enlisted into the 87th Indiana Infantry as a Private. He saw much battle in the war including:

battle of Perryville, Kentucky

engaged in building fortifications about Murfreesboro

battles of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge; Siege of Atlanta, which was a continuous battle from May 10 to September 1

The famous march to the Sea, and was in the siege of Savannah

Once the regiment was fully mustered and trained, he was made Orderly Sgt

Jan 2 1863, he was made 2nd Lt.

December of 1864 he was made Captain

Discharged in July 1865 as Captain

When on the March to the Sea Captain Elam had a severe fever, and was put in an ambulance. When the surgeon made his rounds to place the soldiers who were likely to die during the night by themselves, he said to the driver of the ambulance in which Mr. Elam lay, "This officer will die to-night; drive him over to the death corral." The Captain overheard him, and the next morning was much better.

He returned to Rochester and opened a dry goods store. And then in 1866, he married Freelove White. In 1867, He moved his family to Valpo, and was a clerk in a Dry good business for some time.

He then became a mail carrier on a train that ran from Cleveland to Chicago. He did this from 1876-1886

In 1886 he became County Auditor and was re-elected in 1890.

In 1894 he became Deputy Revenue Collector

In 1906, he resigned and was appointed Postmaster

He was also in a number of Fraternal Organizations:

Charter Member of Chaplain Brown Post 106 had was Commander for a number of years

Charter Member of the Elks Lodge

Charter Member of the Knights of Pythias

Was on the Board of Directors of the Orphans Home.

He was part of the Committee to erect Memorial Hall, and was the treasurer

His wife, Freelove, was on a number of committees in Valparaiso, and was very well respected. She was one of the early leaders of the Women’s Relief Corp.

She was part of the local Sanitary Commission that looked after wounded and sick soldiers in Valpo

From her obit, “Mrs Elam was a woman of forceful character, generous heart, and genial disposition. Proud of her city, she readily became identified with every movement for its benefit and one has to but look about to see the work of her hands.” Patriotic and loyal, having married a soldier,- she became a charter member of the Womens Relief Corp and was ever interested in this work. She was also a member of the William Henry Harrison Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was a charter member of the Harriet Beecher Stowe reading Circle….. “Mrs Elam gave time, thought, and even physical strength toward the beautifying of Maplewood cemetery, and it was a source of sincere regret to her as others, that this sacred ground should be so neglected.” “The Civic Organizations was conceived of and organized through the influence of Mrs Elam. The beautiful parks and growing shrubbery, adding attractiveness to our city, which we all enjoy, are in a great measure to the fruits of her labor.” “she has gone, but her works do follow her. “

She was very passionate about this Cemetery, and was President of the Civic Improvement Association

In January 1908 the Maplewood Cemetery Fund was as follows:

From Lot owners- $211.00

From City Council-1 weeks work- 10.00

Donation 2.00.

For a total of 223.00

Expenses- Printing and postage-11.25

Lawn Mower 8.50

Repairs, 4.75

Resetting Monuments 6.00


With a Balance of 76.50

This was also the year the Mrs, Elam pushed to get City Cemetery fixed as well and set up a second account to take care of the work that needs to be done there.

She even went before the City Council and was allowed to speak as she was Captain Elams Wife, and that she was so well respected in the City. She spoke of the grass not getting mowed, the stones needing reset, the water pump not working, so there was no water for the flowers on the graves. She asked for the city to take better care of the cemetery. This was shortly before the formation of the Civic Improvement Association- So not only was she upset and complained, she took it upon herself to make a difference.

#Elam #Valparaiso #Maplewood #87thIndiana

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