This morning, I continued my research necessary to fill out the needed applications for New Headstones for Civil War Vets and a Spanish American Vet. I decided to focus my energy and many cups of coffee on the Spanish American War Vet on my List.
When we look back on history, and specifically the War Years, we are often taught about the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and now Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom. We do not however spend much time on some other engagements that our country took part in the early days of our history. We do not speak of the Black hawk War in which President Lincoln, and at least 2 members from Porter County were engaged in. We rarely speak of the Mexican American War that pre-dated the Civil War, in which this Author's own Grandfather Joseph P Smith, organized the unit from Porter and Lake County to go and fight. Nor do we discuss the Spanish American War in which the subject of today's search was the first casualty of.
I am speaking of none other than Carl Specht. Carl was very popular young man in Valparaiso. He was but 19 when he volunteered to go off and fight in the Spanish American War. There is much on the Specht Family, Store, and Resort at Burlington Beach, but this is about the Legacy that Carl Left Behind.
Carl went off with the 1st Illinois Cav Co H, to train in the south in a swampy area as described by the Stroller in the May 29th edition of the Vidette Messenger. While in training he contracted Malaria and Typhoid Fever. It was while Carl was on a 30 day leave at home in Valparaiso that he succumbed to the diseases.
Carl's death brought the community together. It brought an estimated 4000 people to the streets to join his procession. His funeral march was headed up by the National Guard and the Chaplain Brown GAR Post. Everyone in the community knew Carl, and Claus his father. Most had probably shopped in Carl's Store- or went to the resort at Burlington Beach. So it is no wonder that so many people came to the funeral. This was the first active soldier to die since the "boys" came home in 1865. Read his Obit
His funeral was an affair to remember. His casket was led down the street by White Horses, and a White Surrey, more than likely by that of E.V. Arnold, which supposedly had the only one in the community.
According to a Map put together by members of the Chaplain Brown GAR Post and the David D Porter Camp SUVCW, we know that Carl's grave is just below the hill near the tracks in Old City Cemetery. On the Map it shows that at one time he did have a Family Monument, but no Military Stone. Now today, nearly 120 years later, no stone exists. It is our hope that we will have a Stone in Place by the end of Fall. If you would like to help defer costs for this please go to our Gofundme Campaign .
But this is not the end of Carls Legacy- through my research today, I found that there were 2 Spanish American War Veterans Posts Named after him. This was an organization that was set up almost exactly like that of the GAR and met regularly in the Memorial Opera House as well as members homes. It was a much smaller organization of course, as only about 100 went into the Spanish American War from the Valpo Area. You can read more about the history of the Posts here .
The first post was named after Specht and Bremmer but interest waned after only a couple of years (exactly like the the first GAR Post of Valparaiso, and the First Charter of the David D Porter Camp SUVCW). After a number of years, the Carl Specht Post 8 and the Auxiliary were both started in 1931. At the time of the this writing, I am not sure when it disbanded, but would imagine it was sometime after 1964, as no more mention of it can be found in the Newspaper. At that time, there were only 2 members left, the youngest being 81.
This morning was to be one of getting numerous applications written up to send off to the VA for replacement stones, but instead, Carl decided to speak to me today and tell his story. That is OK, that is what myself and the David D Porter Camp believe in the most- Telling the stories of the Men and their families that belonged to the organizations, the Men and their Families that sacrificed so much to defend the country, the Men and Women that were able to give the honor to their families and Communities. The other applications will get done in time. The stories are part of the research, and without the stories, the headstones by themselves are just a piece of stone. Its in the author's eyes, that these stories, turn the stone into something much more.
Thank you for continuing to read my little bits of local history. If you have family members that were CW Veterans and would like to join the SUVCW David D Porter Camp, so that you too can help preserve the History of these folks, please go to our Website.