Decoration Day was officially established three years after the end of the Civil War, in 1868, by the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), which was the organization dedicated to Union veterans’ affairs. From the beginning, observances have included speeches, processions to cemeteries and the decoration of veteran graves with flowers, and later flags.
Memorial Day commemorations received a great deal of newspaper coverage in nineteenth-century Wellington. Noah Huckins was very active in veterans’ affairs, having served himself in the Civil War, so I have found numerous mentions of him serving on planning committees throughout his life. In 1873, for example, he and E. F. Webster were the Oration Committee “for the observance of Memorial or Dedication Day in Wellington” (The Wellington Enterprise, 5-22-1873, pg. 3). The proposed program outline was as follows:
General procession of Soldiers and Citizens with Band.
To form at town Hall, at 1 o’clock, p. m. and proceed to
the different cemeteries and perform the ceremonies of Decoration.
Huckins would have had no difficulties recognizing the parade of veterans, public service personnel, musicians and children that marched down South Main Street to Greenwood Cemetery at 11 o’clock this morning.
For a listing of Wellington’s GAR membership, complete with images from the ‘Spirit of ’76’ Museum and obituaries from The Wellington Enterprise, please visit this page on the Wellington Genealogy Group website.