Mansfield man works to return Civil War banner to Roseville

MANSFIELD – One man’s effort to return a Civil War-era banner to Roseville, where it originated, has paid off.

The Grand Army of the Republic banner for Post 616, named for E.R. Backer, captain of Co. A, 207th Volunteers, had been posted for sale on a website by a man in Michigan, said Ron Remy, a retired Mansfield University professor and member of the Pennsylvania Bucktails Re-enactment Group.

Remy started looking for help from the community to obtain it, but a third party from Mansfield showed interest in buying it.

Roseville residents Annie Clark and her sister Alene York, purchased the banner for $2,550. It now is being refurbished.

On June 29, Clark, York and Remy plan to present the restored banner to the residents of Roseville during a ceremony, after which it will be displayed at the town’s United Methodist Church. It then will rotate throughout the county to various places such as the history center on Main Street in Mansfield and the county historical museum in Wellsboro.

In order to help Clark and York recoup some of the money from the banner’s purchase, Remy said he will donate money he gets from selling the presidential presentation knives from his personal collection. He plans to have his Civil War collection on display at the Memorial Day service at the Veterans Memorial Park in Mansfield on Monday.

According to local historian Joyce Tice, in 1866, Union Veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic and became a social and political force that would control the destiny of the nation for more than six decades.

Membership in the veterans’ organization was restricted to individuals who had served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, thereby limiting the life span of the GAR, which existed until 1956.

In 1881, the GAR formed the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America to carry on its traditions and memory long after the GAR had ceased to exist.

Membership was open to any man who could prove ancestry to a member of the GAR or to a veteran eligible for membership in the GAR.

In later years, men who did not have the ancestry to qualify for hereditary membership but who demonstrated a genuine interest in the Civil War and could subscribe to the purpose and objectives of the SUVCW, were admitted as associates. This practice continues today.

The historic banner has been authenticated by university historian Jeff Bridgman, son of long-time and now deceased professor Bob Bridgman.

Recently Remy gathered a group of stakeholders, including Clark and York; Mike Crippen, of Roseville; Mayor Tom Wierbowski; and Northwest Savings Bank manager Kathy Telep. Chester P. Bailey, 102, Richmond Township’s oldest living citizen and a renowned local historian, was named honorary chairman of Remy’s committee.

During the meeting, pictures of the banner were shown and ideas were discussed on how to have it restored and re-framed.

Remy said the banner is special and unique for many reasons, but one stands out.

“This post in Roseville was one of the few named for a living veteran,” he said.