The Last Soldier Project: Wood County, Wis.
James D. Gibson

(Obituary from The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, 7 July 1938)

Wood County Post No. 22, Grand Army of the Republic, passed out of existence today. Its last man, James D. Gibson, who marched with the Union Armies in the Civil War, was mustered out at 6:15 o'clock this morning. Complications arising from advanced age caused his death, after a last illness of six days. He died at the home of his son, Charles E. Gibson, 1011 West Grand Avenue. He had passed his 90th birthday on June 23.

Last Rites Saturday
Mr. Gibson will be buried Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock with military honors. Charles Hagerstrom Post No. 9 American Legion, and the Women's Relief Corps will be in charge. Services will be held at the Baker Funeral Chapel, with the Rev. Frederick W. Hyslop officiating.

Burial will be in Forest Hill Cemetery. Members of the Legion Post will be active pallbearers, and two close friends of the veteran, L.P. Daniels and James Bogie, will be honorary pallbearers. Final funeral arrangements will be announced tomorrow.

The body, clothed in the blue of the Grand Army of the Republic, will lie at the Baker Chapel until time for the services. The chapel may be visited beginning this evening.

Native of Ireland
An Irish immigrant who came with his family as one of the early settlers of central Wisconsin, Mr. Gibson donned the uniform of this country's fighting forces only six years after he had left his native soil. He became a resident of Wood County in 1874, and moved to Wisconsin Rapids 44 years ago.

As Chief of Police of this city for 17 years between 1900 and 1917, Mr. Gibson became one of the city's best-known citizens. His record as a law enforcement officer made him known throughout this part of the state. He played an active part in the community scene until his retirement as Chief.

Held Other Public Posts
He served as City Marshall of Centralia for four years prior to taking the Post as Chief, was Street Commissioner for a period before that, and served two years as Superintendent of the Wood County Poor Farm. For many years he was identified with the early logging industry of central Wisconsin.

Mr. Gibson was born in Belfast, Ireland, June 23, 1848, the son of William J. and Martha Gibson. Eleven years after his birth, the Gibson family immigrated, settling on a farm near Ripon. He was schooled both in Ireland and in the district schools of his community in Wisconsin, and early took up work as farm laborer.

Enlisted Jan. 1, 1865
It was while working on a farm near his home that he joined the Union Army, enlisting on January 1, 1865, in Company I, 47th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He had not reached his seventeenth birthday when he joined, and was sent first to Louisville, KY, and later to Nashville, Tenn, for guard duty with Union forces there.

He remained in the Army until August, 1865, when he was taken ill and was discharged. He returned to Ripon, and was married on March 5, 1866 to Katherine Radebusch of Ohio. In 1871, they moved to Omro, Wis., but Mr. Gibson a short time later joined the lumbering crews of Gerard, Drake, Webster & Wilson, and came to Vesper in Wood County as a teamster.

He continued as a teamster for 16 years, moving his family to Vesper in 1874 by team and wagon. In 1887 and 1888, he and Mrs. Gibson were employed as cooks in logging camps near Vesper, and in the two years following, Mr. Gibson held the post of Superintendent of the Wood County Poor Farm.

Moved Here in 1894
The Gibson's returned to Vesper in 1890, to operate a boarding house for a short time. He later bought 80 acres of land, but in 1894 sold it and moved to Centralia. The next two years he served as Centralia Street Commissioner, taking the Marshal position in 1896, and holding it until he was chosen as the First Chief of Police of the consolidated cities of Centralia and Grand Rapids. A grandson, James, is now a member of the Wisconsin Rapids police force.

Mrs. Gibson died on October 23, 1917. Mr. Gibson retired as Chief and has since lived with his son, who survives with five grandchildren, Mrs. Miles Lumsden, Mrs. C.J. Billmeyer, George J., and James, all of Wisconsin Rapids, and Harry, Milwaukee. Three great-grandchildren and eight step-grandchildren also survive.

Sources: Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Thursday, 7 July 1938, Pgs 1 & 9
Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers: War of the Rebellion
Janet Eiler - Winnebagoland Genealogical Society, 1890 Veterans Schedule

Researched by Vince Barker

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Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Department of Wisconsin


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