It’s About Time – Stories about Fair Haven and Sterling

    By on October 14, 2015
    • Private George Ingersoll, World War I

    • Young George Ingersoll

    • George Ingersoll as an infant

    • Roy Bloomingdale, initiator of Fair Haven’s American Legion Post

    • Last of the GAR veterans, date unknown

    • World War II veterans standing in front of the American Legion building, in approximately 1950. The building was constructed by World War I veterans.

    Susan Parsons – Fair Haven Village & Sterling Town Historian, Sterling Historical Society Secretary

    George Ingersoll

    In the autumn of 1921, Roy Bloomingdale decided to help bring about a Legion Post in the village of Fair Haven. The organizational meeting was held on December 27, 1921. Dr. Leon Griggs, Fair Haven’s resident physician, was elected temporary commander. The group voted to have the new American Legion Post named after Private George E. Ingersoll who had died during the so-called “Great War.”

    The G.A.R., a similar organization for Civil War veterans, asked the group of World War I veterans to take charge of Memorial Day ceremonies in 1922, as the number of Civil War veterans was rapidly dwindling. That year, the old Civil War veterans lined up in front of the Methodist Church with the World War I veterans right behind them, and they marched into the church and took their seats in a church filled to capacity.

    In 1923, the Legion group decided to build its own clubhouse. They did most of the work themselves. The building still stands, on Lake Street, Fair Haven and still functions as the quarters of the Legion Post as well as the Fair Haven Community Center.

    George E. Ingersoll was born to John R. and Emma Van Patten Ingersoll in 1891. The family lived in Sterling. By about 1913, George and his brother Calvin had built and were running a garage on the north side of Main Street, Fair Haven, near the railroad station.

    Dear Uncle:

    I am feeling fine again after my turn with the Flu but some of the boys are still in the hospital.

    I suppose you would like to know what we are doing here. Three kinds of gas are made here and put into shells and also aeroplane bombs. … We have gas here three times a day and in between. The leaves are about all dead from the effects of it. We all have masks to wear when the darn stuff gets loose.

    From your nephew,

    PVT George Ingersoll

    From a newspaper headline: GEORGE INGERSOLL DIES IN CAMP (Fair Haven Register 10/24/1918)

    The town of Sterling was shocked this week to receive the news of the death of George Ingersoll, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Ingersoll of Sterling, which occurred at Edgewood Camp in Maryland.

    He had been sick from influenza but had recovered and was feeling well. … Sunday night he retired in apparent good health and during the fore part of the night he and his chum talked back and forth from their cots. About five o’clock next morning, the chum was awakened by groans coming from young Ingersoll, and going to him he found him unconscious… The cause of death was given as pneumococcic meningitis.

    George E. Ingersoll was born on the farm where his parents now live and spent his entire life in this town. His age was 26 years.

    The following letter was written by the late George Ingersoll’s “chum.”

    George was a friend of every man in our company; he is missed very much here. …

    Now what caused his death: I have talked with the Orderly who worked with the doctors on him at the hospital and he said he had been gassed… It is a slow poison; sometimes does not work until two or three days after one has been around it… It sure is a very sad thing to think men will get up such things to kill each other with… Men are burned or gassed with it almost every day in some part of the plant. … They can’t stop it burning very quick, it is so poisonous.

    Am glad they had a military funeral for the poor boy. …

    The official cause of death as described by the military was disease, but the information from a friend as well as Mr. Ingersoll’s letter that he had recovered from the flu ended up describing an entirely different end of the story for George E. Ingersoll.

    Sources: Fair Haven Register; Archives, Fair Haven and Sterling; Fair Haven Public Library.

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