On the Porch

Major John Winslow Blake, a Civil War veteran, lived in Marshall and is buried in the Marshall Cemetery. He is one of several Civil War veterans who lived in Lyon County. Major Blake, a civil engineer for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, was instrumental in getting the railroad built in Marshall. Major Blake bought land upon which the city of Marshall now stands and in company of others platted and founded the town.

Major Blake was born in Dover, Maine on Aug. 29, 1839. He moved to Wisconsin in 1840. He attended school at the University of Wisconsin, studying engineering. In 1860, he established and published the Jefferson County Republican in Jefferson, Wisconsin and was conducting the journal when the war began.

He enlisted for three months’ service as a private soldier and afterwards re-enlisted for three years in Company E, 4th Wisconsin Infantry. In October, 1862, he was made first lieutenant of H Company, 29th Wisconsin Infantry, and was regimental adjutant from December 1862 to June 1864. He was then commissioned captain of H Company and detailed on the staff of General Cameron. In October 1864, he became major of the 42nd Wisconsin Infantry. The next month he was made provost marshal on the staff of General John Cook, in which position he served at the close of the war.

During the course of the war, Major Blake was active in many captures and battles. For instance, he was in the battle of Baton Rouge, capture of Arkansas Post, Vicksburg campaign under General Grant, battle of Fort Gibson, capture of Jackson under General Sherman, and capture of Fort Esperanza to name a few.

The traveling exhibit, Boys in Blue: The Grand Army of the Republic, A Civil War Veterans’ Organization opens March 1 at the Lyon County Museum. The exhibit runs until June 1. The traveling exhibit was organized by the Siouxland Heritage Museums, Sioux Falls, S.D. Exhibit opening reception and program is Monday, March 1. Doors open at 6 p.m. Dr. Lloyd Petersen will talk at 6:30 p.m. on the history of the Grand Army of the Republic. Free event and light refreshments will be served.

The photograph featured this week shows members of the D.F. Markham G.A.R. Post in Marshall in front of Addison Hardware store. The G.A.R. hall was located on the 2nd floor of the Addison building. The Lyon County Historical Society is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. For more information on membership, research, volunteering, or the museum’s collection, please contact us at 537-6580 or director@lyoncomuseum.org. Like our page and follow us on Facebook.