SUVCW Dept. of Wisconsin Commanders:
Harry S. Fuller

Wis. DC Harry S. FullerOn June 17, 1890, 27-year old insurance agent Harry S. Fuller, was elected Department Commander at the Wisconsin Dept. Encampment held in Sheboygan. He took over a healthy state Order with 68 working Camps and 1,560 members.

Br. Fuller was born in Appleton, the younger of two sons born to Dr. Sidney and Susie Fuller. During the Civil War, Dr. Fuller served as Assistant Surgeon of the 21st Wisconsin Infantry from August 20, 1862 to March 1864.

The younger Fuller spent his formative years in Detroit and became an agent of the Washington Life Insurance Company of New York in its Western Dept. in 1885. The following year, he married Agnes M., a Canadian immigrant. He transferred to Milwaukee in 1888 and upon his arrival, organized Milwaukee’s Rufus King Camp 29. The Camp was chartered before the end of the year and Fuller served as the Camp’s first commander.

Br. Fuller had been a member of the National Guard since the age of 18 and was devoted to improving the service. He was appointed captain of the 4th Battalion and inspector of small arms practice one week after becoming Wisconsin Department Commander. An active Republican, Fuller was a delegate to various local conventions. In January 1895, he was appointed to Governor Upham’s staff.

Fuller placed Department Headquarters in his own business office and had the clerical work done by his clerks. Department expenses for office rent, furniture, fuel, lights and payroll were avoided. The work of perfecting the records of the organization was begun. Much work was completed on two volumes in which were inscribed the names of all members in the Department. Volume A contained a list of all members, chartered and mustered in the first 75 Camps. It wasn’t completed because some Camp adjutants did not report. The entire membership of all other Camps was recorded in Volume B.

Col. Fuller inspected more than half of the Department’s Camps personally. Sickness prevented him from visiting the others, so he appointed assistant inspectors for them. The report of the Inspector General showed that 600 members were uniformed, 300 were armed and equipped; 18 Camps held regular camping drills and all that were equipped had adopted the infantry branch.

After he stepped down as Dept. Commander, he reorganized his Camp as Badger Camp 1, which was chartered in 1892. Members for this Camp came from the disbanded Rufus King Camp and C.K. Pier Camp 35. When Camp 1’s membership dwindled nine years later he supported the merger with Camp 35 and was a charter member of C.K. Pier Badger Camp 1. PDC Fuller also served a term as National Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief.

Meanwhile, his family grew. Sidney was born in April 1887, Lella in August 1889, Irene in 1892 and Harry, Jr. in April 1893. His business success also grew and by 1896, his insurance territory included northern Michigan and he was also in charge of Indiana, Illinois and lower Michigan, as well as Wisconsin. His wife was assisted by a servant woman and the family moved to Wauwatosa, purchasing the home at 1609 Church Street in 1910. His two daughters were married there.

As his children moved into their teenage years and his business continued to grow, PDC Harry S. Fuller absence from Sons activity also grew. He was honorably discharged from the Order in January 1912.

The Fullers sold their home in 1923 and moved to Pasadena, California, where they lived until their death.

Harry Sweet Fuller passed away on May 3, 1937 and was survived by two daughters, Mrs. Rose LW. Godfrey and Mrs. Harry C. LeFeber and two sons, Sidney L. and Harry S. Jr. The senior Fuller was returned to Brookfield where he was interred at Wisconsin Memorial Park.

Written by Stephen Michaels, PCinC

Information Sources:
C.K. Pier Badger Camp 1 Sketchbooks and Attendance records
Milwaukee Sentinel obit, 10 May 1937
Press Forward the Good Work by PDC Stephen A. Michaels, 1997 & 1999 by the Dept. of Wisconsin
Wauwatosa Landmarks published by Wauwatosa Landmark Commission, 1994

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Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Department of Wisconsin


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