The City of Derby has always contributed its finest in the national interest, but the War of the Rebellion (Civil War) occurred at a time when single males were flocking to Derby in large numbers to find employment in the industries springing up in the area. Many of them ended up serving in the U.S. Army. Derby Historical Society Director Rob Novak estimates that up to 1/4 of the population served the national cause.
When the war ended, the veterans returned home and eventually organized into veterans groups much as others have done ever since. Among the groups formed, one emerged as the leading organization for Civil War veterans - the Grand Army of The Republic. It was the brainchild of Benjamin Franklin Stephenson of Springfield, Illinois. First formed on April 6, 1866 the group grew to more than 400,000 and posts sprang up all over the country including in Derby where Kellogg Post #26 was formed on April 11, 1867.
The Kellogg Post was named after a Derby resident who was born in Glastonbury, worked as a sailor, searched for gold in California and settled in Derby in 1856. When war broke out, he volunteered for service and was killed in the Battle at Cold Harbor while leading an artillery regiment. The Derby Public Library has the Memorial Record with handwritten records of the local members of the GAR. (Our thanks to Joan Driscoll for providing this information.)
The GAR founded soldiers' homes, was active in relief work and in pension legislation. Five members (Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, and McKinley) went on to become President of the United States. The GAR also gave us "Decoration Day" now better known as Memorial Day. In 1868, Commander-in-Chief John A. Logan issued General Order No. 11 calling for all Departments and Posts to set aside the 30th of May as a day for remembering the sacrifices of fallen comrades, thereby beginning the celebration of Memorial Day.
The last member of the GAR, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at the age of 109 years. The last surviving member of the Kellogg Post was Andrew Dean who died in 1940.
Correct answers were received from: Jane Papale, Dave Petz, Eileen Krugel, Edwaed Baclawski, Ann Searles, Howard Bradshaw, Cyndi Poppa, Henry Wajdowicz, Dominick Thomas, Ken Dupke, John Rak, Jim Stephen, Michael J. Flora, Paul C. Varsanik Jr., Raymond M. Petrillo, Eddie Calvert, Joan Driscoll, Frank from St. Pete's, Rick Dunne, Dennis Kisyk Jr., Marshall Pettingill and Mayor Marc J. Garofalo,.