We serve to unite individuals, in Howard, Tipton, Clinton, Grant, Madison, Wabash, Cass, Carroll, Tippecanoe, Benton, and Miami counties of Indiana. Whose ancestors served in the Union Army during the Civil War that want to promote and preserve that American History today!
The Orlando A. Somers Camp #1 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Department of Indiana was organized by Allen W. Moore at Kokomo, Indiana, during a four day snow storm in March 1982. The first meeting was held April 3, 1982, at Laughner’s Cafeteria in Kokomo. At this organizational meeting, the officers elected were Ned P. Booher, Commander, Gary L. Sipes, Senior Vice-Commander, Allen Parker Shinn, Junior Vice-Commander, Gayle A. Eikenberry, Secretary, Karl O. Learner II, Treasurer, and Ronald L. Tetrick, Chaplain. Edward W. Phillips presented a program based on his Civil War grandfather’s letters. The Camp was named in honor of Orlando A. Somers, Co. D 39th Regiment Indiana Volunteers, a Kokomo resident who served as Commander-in-Chief of the GAR in 1917-1918. The Camp Charter was dated August 5, 1982.
The second meeting was held on September 11, 1982, at Laughner’s Cafeteria, where the officers were installed by Orval King, Past Department Commander, from Battle Ground. The charter members were initiated by Allen W. Moore, Senior-Vice Commander of the Department of Indiana. Robert W. Craig of Richmond gave a program on Civil War uniforms.
The Charter Members were Ned P. Booher, Robert Colin Craig, Kenneth W. Crook, Gayle A. Eikenberry, Jonathan E. Ellers, Roland H. Ferguson, Fred M. Goodier, Richard E. Grimes, John R. Grose, Karl O. Learner II, James K. McKay, Joseph William Mills, Stephen E. Mills, William S. Mills, Willard E. Moore, Steven M. Morehead, Thomas W.Morehead, Joseph Warren Muncie, Edward W. Phillips, Adrian G. Ralstin, Allen Parker Shinn, Jack P. Shinn, Gary P. Sipes, Allen L. “Ted” Somers, Harold A. Stephenson, Robert D. Stephenson, Ronald L. Tetrick, and Chester H. Thompson.
On Veterans’ Day 1982, six members of the Camp rode in a horse-drawn Civil War ambulance wagon in the Kokomo parade. Jack P. Shinn, Grandson of Orlando A. Somers, was the driver and Fred M. Goodier , the Camp’s only real son, rode beside him. Also in the ambulance was Gayle A. Eikenberry, Allen W. Moore, and two other members.
In 1991 the Camp began holding its meetings at Richard’s Restaurant, where it continues to meet. Through the years a variety of educational programs have been presented by authors, university professors, and camp members. Several programs were given by members Ned P. Booher, Kokomo’s historian and author, and by Craig Dunn, author or several Civil War books.
During its existence the Camp has had a number of successful projects. These include the restoration of the 100 pound Parrott cannon in the IOOF Cemetery at Hartford City in 1993 by Dr. Gary Dolph, Joseph William Mills, and Allen W. Moore. At the Estates of Serenity Cemetery in Marion, the Camp ordered and installed two military headstones for Civil War soldiers buried at the base of the GAR Monument, which the Camp paid to have professionally cleaned. Several military headstones were replaced in the Soldiers’ Circle at Crown Point Cemetery in Kokomo. A large bronze marker was purchased and placed at the grave of Pvt. John C. Adams, who was the last Union Civil War soldier to die in Indiana. Money was donated to Eagle Scout Timon A. Pike for restoration of the Freeman Cemetery in eastern Howard County. The Camp raised money to buy a carriage for the Kokomo bronze field Howitzer cannon and worked with the City of Kokomo on joint ownership and maintenance of the cannon.
Orlando A. Somers Camp #1 has participated in Memorial Day ceremonies at the Crown Point Cemetery since its inception. It also participated in the dedication ceremony at Freeman Cemetery and at the Oak Chapel Cemetery in eastern Grant County. The Camp began Memorial Day ceremonies at the GAR Monument in Estates of Serenity Cemetery at Marion and at the grave of the last member of the GAR in Indiana at Riverside Cemetery in Gas City. In 2002 the Camp members marched in the parade at the Centennial Celebration of the Dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis.
In Addition to meetings and ceremonies, the Camp has taken field trips to the following: Civil War Show at Lexington, Kentucky, May 1993; Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis, April 1998; President Benjamin Harrison Home and World War Memorial in Indianapolis, May 1999; Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, May 2000; and the Ben Hur Museum at Crawfordsville, May 2001.
The following members have served as Camp Commanders:
Ned P. Booher 1982-1983
Gary L. Sipes 1984-1985
Rev, Dr, Walter Ungerer 1986
Allen W. Moore 1987-1991
Dr. Gary E. Dolph 1992-1995
Russell W. Kirchner 1996-1997
Thomas C. Crawford, Jr. 1998-1999
J. Alan Teller 2000-2001
Ned R. Baker 2002-2003
Shawn C. Clements 2004
D. Jon Ayers 2005
J. Alan Teller 2006
Mathew Elkin 2007-2008
Larry A. Myer 2009-2010
J. Alan Teller 2011
Timon A. Pike 2012-2013
Alan Teller 2019- 2020
Travis LeMaster 2021
Five members of the Camp have served as Department Commander. They are Allen W. Moore, Dr. Gary E. Dolph, Russell W. Kirchner, Thomas C. Crawford, Jr., J. Alan Teller, and Mathew J. Elkin. In 1993-1994 Allen W. Moore served as Commander-in-Chief.
Written by Allen W. Moore, PC-in-C, Camp Historian 2006