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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 12, 2011

Redding park memorial reminder of Civil War past



Editor's note: The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is being observed during 2011 and from time to time the Mount Ayr Record-News will be sharing stories about Ringgold county Civil War veterans.

  There is a large stone monument in the Redding city park put in place by the Grand Army of the Republic -- veterans of the Civil War -- in 1911. The oldest Civil War veteran in Ringgold county was John C[arter]. ABARR, who died in 1936, and it was ABARR who moved the large stone to the Redding park for the memorial with his steam engine in 1911. Veterans and others contributed money to complete the base and buy the bronze plaques which list the names of the soldiers. There were also two large stacks of cannonballs that were part of the monument at first, but these were turned in for scrap during World War II. A bronze eagle had also topped the monument, but when vandals removed it twice, it was placed atop of a flagpole in the park instead.

John C. ABARR, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph W. ABARR, was born in White county Illinois on September 12, 1845. He was the of nine children. When he was quite small, his parents moved from Illinois to Ringgold county, where he spent the better part of his 91 years. He enlisted in the Union Army [Company D, 43rd Missouri Infantry] at the age of 18 years at Savannah, MO on August 20, 1864. His father also served in the Union Army, enlisting in Company I, Fifth Missouri Cavalry. John ABARR took a boat from Leavenworth, KS south, meeting up with PRICE'S Army at Glasgow, MO. He was taken prisoner by the Bushwhackers October 15, 1864 and released on parole. All the prisoners except the sick and wounded were taken to Jefferson City, MO, and ABARR was detailed as a nurse. Later during a fight with some Bushwhackers he took ill and was put on a train below Independence, MO, and put off at the end of the railroad, which ran no farther than the Blue River. His captain had to rush back to his army, leaving ABARR without help or medical care. He tried to get two or three white draymen, who were passing, to take him to a hospital in Kansas City, MO, but they did not have time, according to his story. Soon an elderly black man and his dray stopped where ABARR was lying. ABARR asked the man if he would take him where he could receive medical care. The man replied "Yes Sar! Whar would we all have been if it hadn't been for you all?"

He was still in the hospital in Kansas City, MO, when he was mustered from the Army in June 1865.

Ringgold County's longest surviving Civil War Veteran
John C. ABARR is shown with his wife, Sarah.

ABARR married Sarah E. FISHER on May 27, 1875 and to this union were born three children -- George, Alice and Mamie. In his younger days his vocation was farming and threshing in the summer and running a saw mill in the winter. He was appointed postmaster of Redding and served 11 years. He then resigned and went back to his threshing and sawmill, the work he most enjoyed. He ran his saw mill until he was about 84 years of age.

John ABARR ran a threshing machine in Ringgold county for a good part of his life.

Lloyd THURSTON, United States congressman from the fifth district in Iowa, sent a bust of Abraham Lincoln to ABARR in 1932, recognizing him as the only surviving Civil War veteran in the county and the only one who was old enough and voted for the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The bust was presented at a political meeting held in Redding. The bust is still with the family as John Carter HERRIN of Lake St. Louis, MO has it in his possession.

A big party was held for ABARR on his 90th birthday on September 12, 1935, in Redding. School children from the Redding school attended the event and provided music. John ABARR gave a "very interesting talk on his early life, followed up with his experiences while serving 14 months with the Union Army during the Civil War." He even sang an old Army song for the partiers.

He died the next year on June 19, 1936 at the age of 90 years, nine months and seven days.

Local descendants of ABARR include Mary Ann SMITH of Beaconsfield, a great-great-granddaughter, and Sandy PIERSCHBACHER of Kellerton, a great-great-great-grand-daughter.

NOTE: John C. ABARR was born on September 12, 1845. Sarah E. (FISHER) ABARR was born in Vermillion County, Illinois, on June 2, 1856, and died in Ringgold County on September 18, 1908. They were interred at Fairview Cemetery, Ringgold County, Iowa.

Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2011

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