Tuesday, July 2, 2013

150th Anniversary of Gettysburg and our Local Connections

Civil War history buffs are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg, While the three day battle resulted in a horrific number of casualties, Gettysburg was considered the turning point of the war which would lead to cessation of hostilities.

Several men in our local history had connections to the Battle of Gettysburg. While there is some debate on the matter, many believe the first shot of the Battle was fired by Marcellus Jones of Danby, Illinois, which is what Glen Ellyn was once known as.

But Jones is not the only local connection. According to the tale, Jones made the shot with a carbine he borrowed from Sergeant Levi Shafer of Naperville.

Following the War, Jones moved to Wheaton and was most likely among the men who swiped the DuPage County records from what was then the county seat in Naperville. He’s buried in Wheaton Cemetery, a few steps from the cemetery office.

Jones' home, built in 1865, was moved about one block away from its original location to Illinois Street in May of 1977. It now serves as the law offices of Peregrine, Stime, Newman & Ritzman.

Shafer returned to Naperville where he married Anna Naugle, worked as a carpenter and raised three daughters before being laid to rest in the Naperville Cemetery.

Visitors attending Gettysburg Anniversary events might learn about DuPage County from a monument that Jones, Shafer and buddy Alex Riddler erected to their contribution to history. The men had a stone monolith cut in Naperville commemorating the event and then, using their own funds, they dragged the marker to Pennsylvania and purchased a small piece of the battlefield from a local farmer on which to rest the monument. Kathleen Logothetis features the stone on her Hidden Gems of Gettysburg website for history buffs who want to view it.

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