Thursday, January 05, 2006

A "Young American Guard" in Waynesville in the 1850s

In his old age, Daniel R. Anderson wrote a series of articles published in the Miami-Gazette newspaper of Waynesville which are his memories of old Waynesville from when he was a boy. One of his memories is about the "war spirit" in Waynesville in the early 1850s:

"There was a war spirit in Waynesville, early in the fifties. A company of young men 16 to 20 years of age, organized into a company of young American Guards and I remember only a few of the 50 in that company. Capt. J. M. Robb who had been in the Mexican War (1846-1848) was captain. Jos. G. Keys was first lieutenant and the rank and file was Dan R. Anderson, John P. Kinney, Will Henley, Geo. Phillips, Jasper McComas, Hen Spangler, Alf Hammell, Clarence McReynolds, and others."

Daniel Anderson continues telling a story about the Waynesville American Guards and Prof. William Henry Venable:

"Prof. Venable's Debut: About the year '53 or '54 a Sunday school picnic was held up the Xenia pike in the grove of David Chenoweth. The young American Guards were escort on that occasion and I have a fervid recollection of the debut of that Prince of all fellows of which Warren County has been embellished, Sir, Prof. W. H. H. Venable. I can see him now in my minds eye as his father assisted him onto one of the tables and that was perhaps his maiden effort, and it was well received and applauded." (Both quotes: Miami-Visitor, April 14, 1915.)
  • Captain J. M. Robb was a dentist in Waynesville famous for his "Hippodrome Liniment".
  • Joseph G. Keys was the brother of John W. Keys. They were business partners in the "Furniture Ware Rooms" located on the west side of Main Street.
  • Alfred Hammell was the son of Enoch Hammell, the owner of the Hammell House.
  • Clarence McReynolds was the son of Dr. John McReynolds of Waynesville.
  • Jasper McComas was a son of Waynesville blacksmith, Thomas M. Mc Comas. Thomas B. McComas was raised in Maryland. In 1827 he and his brother moved to Xenia, Greene County, Ohio where he was a blacksmith with Samuel Harry. Then he moved to Waynesville where he was a journeyman for a while before setting up his own successful business. He died December 27, 1878. Another one of his 15 children, Acquilla, will become a grocer in Waynesville.
  • Will Henley was the son of Moses Henley, a tanner in Waynesville, and brother to John Wesley Henley who published the Miami-Visitor newspaper for two years.
  • For more information about the Anderson family see, Triple Murder in Waynesville ~ Willie Anderson.

Power over the local state militias has traditionally been divided between the Federal government and the states. The state of Ohio had the right to appoint officers and supervise the training of the enrolled men. The Federal government reserved the right of imposing standards, although this could become rather lax on the local level. All males between 18 and 45 were required to enroll in the state militia. Another option was to form volunteer companies of men who would buy their own uniforms and equipment. The Federal government set the standard for these companies, too, and also provide a small amount of money for weapons and ammunition. Local companies, such as the "Young American Guard" in Waynesville, were usually urban or town oriented and could also be a group of men sharing the same ethnicity.

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