Today our nation is observing the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's delivery of the Gettysburg Address. They tell us that not much was made of Lincoln's speech when delivered. He wasn't even the keynote speaker that day in 1863 at the dedication of the new national cemetery on the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The Honorable Edward Everett delivered a two hour speech that cold day in November and then Mr. Lincoln began... "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers..." words that every school child in America memorized for more than 100 years.
Few of us realize that a little known girl reporter, Mary Shaw Leader, was responsible for acclaiming Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address as remarkable. In a report that was published in the Dallas Morning News, November 17, 1941 in Section I, Page Nine (and available through www.genealogybank.com), the community of Hanover, Pennsylvania dedicated a monument to her shortly before the seventy-eighth anniversary of the speech. Marking her grave, the stone carries the following inscription;
"Her first-hand report of Lincoln's Gettysburg address bore witness to its greatness. In her account for the Hanover Spectator she garnered Lincoln's words from his own lips. She helped the world to long remember. Her fellow townsmen pay this belated tribute to her courage, enterprise and fortright that we may never forget."
|Mount Olivet Cemetery, Hanover, York County, PA||Photo provided by Izzebella for Find A Grave Memorial #11051041|
No copies of the speech were distributed to the press corps that day. Mary had walked the fifteen miles to Gettysburg that blustery day to report on what was said at the cemetery's dedication. Unlike most of her male colleagues, she published the full text, as she had transcribed it, in the weekly Hanover newspaper.
Ironically, Mary Shaw Leader had died during the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1913. A celebration to which she was not invited.
November 19th is already a date of note in our family genealogy, as you,Van Eps Hugunin, were born on that date in 1832. Son of Richard "Dirick" and Janetje Van Eps Hugunin, you were born in either Fonda or Fultonville, New York. The family emigrated to Johnston, Rock County Wisconsin about 1840.
Your father Richard was a War of 1812 veteran, so it was not surprising that you enlisted in Company B of the Wisconsin 13th Infantry Regiment on 16 September 1861. Elected Sergeant, there was a quick promotion to Full 1st Sergeant. Leaving Wisconsin January 18, 1862, the Regiment was sent to Leavenworth, Kansas by railroad via Chicago, Quincy, to Weston, Missouri and then marched to Leavenworth City.
According to E. B. Quiner's "Military History of Wisconsin" published in Chicago in 1866 and available at the Wisconsin Historical Society website, the next 18 months consisted of long marches, skirmishes, and garrison duty. At the time President Lincoln was delivering the Gettysburg Address, the 13th fresh from a battle with Rebel leader Woodward at Garretsville was on duty at Fort Donelson, Tennessee. Quiner reports they had marched more than 160 miles.
When did you hear about the Battle of Gettysburg? In the thick of battles yourself, did the horrific number of soldiers killed give pause or cause a great deal of discussion among your troops? You served another year before being mustered out. When did you learn of President Lincoln's Address and did you think it applicable to your efforts also? There are so many question I want to ask you.
Happy Birthday and Thank you for fighting to keep our nation whole. We will never forget.