L.C. Turner Post No. 26
Grand Army of the Republic
The Grand Army of the Republic, or G.A.R., was a national fraternal organization of honorably discharged Union veterans who served in the Civil War.
The L.C. Turner Post was organized and mustered into the Department of New York on May 26, 1878. The Post was named in honor of Judge Levi C. Turner, who had a law practice in Cooperstown and served as Otsego County Judge. As a professional journalist he was editor of The Otsego Farmer, Cincinnati Gazette and writer for the New York Tribune. During the Civil War he rose to the rank of Major and was appointed Judge Advocate under Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. He died in Washington in 1867 and is buried in Lakewood Cemetery.
One of the pyramids of cannonballs added to the Soldiers Plot in 1902. The urn was added in 1907.
The Honorable Andrew Davidson was chosen Commander of the Post. He enlisted at Cooperstown in July 1862 and served with distinction, rising to the rank of Captain. After his discharge he returned to Cooperstown, studied law, and was admitted to the Bar. He was the long-time editor of The Otsego Republican, and served as a New York State Senator. He was Commandant of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Bath, New York, where he died in 1902. He is buried in Lakewood Cemetery. He was awarded a Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor in 1892.
The post had a prominent role in Decoration/Memorial Day celebrations. In the morning members would march to Lakewood Cemetery to decorate the graves of soldiers, followed by the impressive ritual service of the Grand Army. Ladies contributed potted plants and flowers. There was an afternoon parade followed by addresses delivered in Firemen’s Hall by clergy and distinguished citizens. In later years, the American Legion, Spanish-American War and World War veterans participated. Graves were decorated in all cemeteries in the Cooperstown vicinity, Christ Churchyard and St. Mary’s Cemetery as well as Lakewood Cemetery. The tradition continues to the present day.
Some of the graves of the 16 Civil War veterans buried in the Soldiers Plot
The Post purchased a Soldiers Plot in Lakewood Cemetery in 1891 and added to it in 1911. In 1902 a ton of cannonballs was received by L.C. Turner Post and placed in two pyramids of ten balls in each plot. Sixteen soldiers were buried there between 1893 and 1920. An urn with a plaque for the plot was presented by attorney J.J. Byard in 1907.
In 1915 a Civil War Monument at the Court House grounds was erected by L.C. Turner Post.
-- Written for Memorial Day at Lakewood Cemetery, May 31, 2021
The grave marker used for veterans who belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).