Thirteenth Separate Company Goes to Camp. The Company History
Liberal Support by the People and Patriotic Encouragement from the Beginning
Splendid Records of the Fenton Guards.

Transcribed and Submitted By PHGS Member Lloyd Lanphere

Jamestown, June 13 - (Special) - The 13th separate company of Jamestown will leave for a tour of duty at the State camp of instruction near Peekskill on Friday evening of this week. At home the company is known by its honorary title, the Fenton Guards, assumed out of compliment to our distinguished townsman, the late Gov. Reuben E. Fenton . The 13th today ranks among the best separate companies and in point of military qualities the separate companies excel the regiments of the State.

The history of the 13th is interesting. It was organized 19 years ago. The first meeting in regard to the new company was held in Scandinavian hall, June 6, 1875; an election of officers was held July 17 of that year, and on August 25 the company was mustered into service by General Rogers, who was present with his entire staff. The ceremony took place in Jones’s Hall and the company contained 76 members. As the company was composed mainly of Swedish-Americans, and as no "State uniform" was then insisted on, the new company adapted a handsome blue, with yellow trimmings, similar to that worn by the body guard of the King of Sweden. The uniforms cost $32 each, of which the company had to pay $14. The company was known as "Company No. 1 of the 8th Brigade," and was probably the first separate company organized under the State law authorizing the formation of such companies.

The officers at the mustering-in of the company were Captain John P. Hollers and first Lieutenant Conrad A. Hult. Captain Hollers , as captain of a company in one of the New York regiments, is remembered as a soldierly-looking man and a good drill-master. His death occurred about two years ago. He remained as captain a year and a half or two years, and the company was then under Mr. Hult, as first lieutenant, commanding until April, 1880, when he was made captain. Captain Hult is a military man of ability and long experience. He served in the Danish army as a lieutenant in the Danish-Prussion war in 1864, and during the war of the Rebellion he served in the 88th New York Infantry. The other officers of the company previous to its reorganization were First Lieutenant A.W. Ljungberg and Second Lieutenants Frederick J. Waldin, John Swanson, and Gustaf F. Smith.

The organization, which started in as the 1st Separate Company, had its designation changed by the State authorities in 1880 to the 4th Separate Company, and again changed, during the administration of Governor Cornell, to the 13th Separate Company. The company was the first in the State to wear the military helmet now worn by the National Guard and the regular army. It was also the first company in the brigade to adopt, in 1882, the white summer helmet, with which was then worn white horse-hair plumes. After the first destroyed their arms and uniforms the company came out in a handsome new uniform adorned with gold lace facings, to the purchase of which the citizens of Jamestown contributed $1,000.

In 1887 the company was reorganized. Captain Hult had resigned in February, 1887, and on May 31, 1887, Captain Henry Smith , who had been previously elected captain, was duly commissioned. He displayed great energy in recruiting the company, and soon brought it to a high state of efficiency in drill and military standing, as well as in strength of membership. A new armory was secured, new uniforms granted by the State, and a general revival of interest in military matters was created. The citizens, by forming the honorary list, the

Supervisors by furnishing and equipping a new armory in the Warner block, and Governor Fenton’s family, by elegantly furnishing the company’s rooms, all aided and company and put it on a more permanent footing.

Shortly after Captain Smith’s election Lieutenant Ljungberg resigned. John Cadwell, who had been elected second lieutenant at the same time as Captain Smith, and had helped in the work of reorganization, also resigned. R. E. Fenton, only son of the late Governor Fenton, was commissioned first lieutenant November 28, 1889, and Frederick W. Hyde was commissioned second lieutenant on the same date. Dr. William Marvin Bemus was commissioned first lieutenant and assistant surgeon September 23, 1887. In October 1890, Captain Henry Smith resigned and Lieutenant Hyde, having been duly elected was commissioned captain March 26, 1891. Quarter-Master Sergeant Daniel H. Post was duly elected second lieutenant and commissioned as such with rank from April 23, 1891, to succeed Lieutenant Hyde. Lieutenant Fenton resigned January 6, 1892, and Lieutenant Post was promoted to the vacancy January 22, 1892. On February 18, 1892, First Sergeant Frank A. Johnson was elected to succeed Lieutenant Post.Mr. Johnson enlisted August 3, 1880, and is the senior member of the company in point of service. Captain Hyde, who was an enthusiastic, industrious and able commanding officer resigned March 27, 1894, and Lieutenant Daniel H. Post , an able officer, was elected captain April 6, 1894, and duly commissioned with rank from that date. Captain Post makes a good officer and the company is sure to prosper under his able guidance. Albert Gilbert, Jr., first sergeant , was elected first lieutenant on May 7, vice Mr. Post promoted.

Strike Duty Performed by the 13th

The company has been three times ordered out for duty, once during the general railroad riots of 1877 and once when called out by Major Price in January, 1888, in apprehension of trouble caused by a dispute about the crossing of two railways. On the night of August 16, 1892, just before midnight orders were received to assemble the company and proceed to Buffalo in aid of the civil authorities, the "Switchmen’s strike" having got beyond local control. Within two hours, all the officers of the company, and 63 of the enlisted men were on board the cars en route for Buffalo where the company remained, doing its part of the work, until the afternoon of August 27. On their return home the members received an ovation from the citizens.

The company first attended the State Camp in 1884 under Captain Hult. It went again in 1886 under Lieutenant Ljungberg and in 1888 under Captain Smith. In 1891 the company went to camp under Captain Hyde. Its camp record has always been good. The company participated in the parade at the opening of the Niagra Park, and in the Washington Centennial in New York April 30, 1880. It camped with the G.A.R. at Point Chautauqua during one soldiers’ reunion, has participated twice in G.A.R. day at Chautauqua, and has paraded in Buffalo, Salamanca, Titusville, Dunkirk and other places. It has entertained the Titusville and Westfield companies, the Cleveland City Troop, and the Buffalo Cadets, and was once, in 1884, entertained for three days by the 32rd Regiment of Brooklyn. The reception to Governor Hill and the other social events of the company of late are fresh in the memory of all.

Rifle Practice

The company has a fine armor range, 30 yards in length, and during the past in-door season qualified 15 sharpshooters and 46 marksmen. The open-air range is on the Lakewood line of electric cars, three miles from the Armory, and is 600 yards in length, supplied with sliding targets, and a convenient range house, and is in all respects in first-class condition. In 1893 the company
qualified 13 sharpshooters and 59 marksmen for State decorations out of a total of 74. Their "volley target" was the best in the State. The company team took part with four other teams in the "4th Brigade match" at Bay View, and made the largest score by four points. By a technicality the prize was, however, awarded to another organization. The excellent shooting record of the company is largely due to the efforts of Dr. Laban Hazeltine, chairman of the rifle committee.

The New State Armory

As the company has changed its name several times so also has it changed its habitation. Its first armory was in the old Congregational Church at the southwest corner of Fifth and Main streets. When this building was destroyed by fire the company moved into Jones’s Hall, thence to the Opera House building on East Second Street, and thence to the fourth floor of the Warner block. The new State Armory of the 13th, which has been occupied about a year and a half, is at the corner of South Main Street and Fenton Place. It is a substantial and military-looking structure of Medina brown stone and brick. It affords a drill shed 70 by 110, and an administration building 50 by 22. A rifle range, company rooms, officers’ rooms, store rooms, steam heating, gas for fuel and light, electric light, modern plumbing, bowling alleys, and in fact "all the modern improvements" give the company a permanent home that is second to no armory in the State, and which the members, with the generous aid rendered by our citizens, and the wise liberality of the supervisors, have made attractive and pleasant beyond the majority of such structures. The cost of the Armory and site was $38,000, and the furnishings and additions made by the company have probably added at least $5,000 to the sum. The building is an ornament to the city, and a source of pride to all the members of the organization.

Present Condition of the Company

The company now has 85 members, having a full complement of officers, non-commissioned officers and musicians, and 65 privates. At the annual inspection and muster May 23 every member was present. On Decoration Day 78 members turned out for parade. Since March 5 the average attendance at drills has been over 85 per cent. These facts speak well for the interest shown by the members.

The company has a complete company-cooking outfit, and will be able to go into the field, if ordered on active service, fully prepared for every emergency and able to begin soldiers’ housekeeping from the start, while in case of casualties Surgeon Bemus will have every modern appliance of military field hospital equipment at hand to aid him in his department of work. The 13th are fortunate in being detailed to camp under command of so accomplished and efficient an officer as Captain W. Maurice Kerby of the 2nd Separate Company of Auburn, who will command the 1st Provisional Battalion of which they form a part. The other companies will be the 2nd of Auburn, 42nd of Niagara Falls, and companies from Oswego and Elmire. The "swell" cavalry troop of New York City, "Troop A," will be in camp at the same time, together with the 2nd Provisional Battalion, which contains five first-class companies, Captain Lloyd of Troy, battalion commander. The above named organizations, the 13th included, will have the distinguished honor of opening the camp of 1894. The 13th will thus be in good company, and it is needless to say, will strive to do credit to themselves and Jamestown, and will seek to prove again, as they have so often done before, that 13 is not an unlucky number.

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