‘Brave And True’

DAYTON – To mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and to honor a local soldier who died, the Wesley United Methodist Church held a commemorative historical event. Pvt. Anson N. Park, a local soldier who died 150 years ago was honored Saturday at “Brave and True, Always Such Has Anson Been.”

Park died on March 22, 1864 as a member of the 154th NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment in Lookout Valley, Tenn. The 154th Regiment was comprised of soldiers from both Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.

Bill Parke, one of the event organizers and great-great-grandson of Anson, explained the Park family arrived in the town of Dayton in the early 1800s and were farmers. The 154th Regiment was mainly recruited in 1862 at the request of then-President Abraham Lincoln for soldiers, according to Phil Palen, Gowanda village historian. The regiment went into winter camp at Fairfax, Va., and fought its first battle at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. During this battle, the men suffered 228 casualties. The men of the 154th also took part in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Park died from a complication of measles while in Tennessee. One of the last visitors Park had prior to his death was his cousin Andrew, who also served in the 154th Regiment. He was only 19 years old at the time of his death.

“We can only hope that Anson was comforted by a visit from his cousin, Andrew, in his last hours,” Parke said.

“Regimental historian … describes them as a hard-fighting, long-suffering regiment,” Parke continued. “Over the course of their service, 630 were lost to battle, … 523 were lost to other losses. … Today with this service, we had a chance to explore some of the suffering and the fight.”

Cattaraugus County Legislator Paula Stockman read a proclamation from Norman Marsh, Cattaraugus County Legislature chair, in honor of Park and the service of the 154th Regiment. In the proclamation, it read that due to soldiers? sacrifices like Park’s we are able to enjoy the freedoms of today.

“… I, Norman L. Marsh … do hereby recognize the great sacrifices made by Anson N. Park on this 150th anniversary of his death,” Stockman said.

Music was provided by Rush the Growler who performed songs of the era, as well as two soldier?s poems that have been put to music, including “The Army Song of the Cattaraugus Boys.” The benediction was given by the Rev. David Parke, another descendant of Park.

Following the event, re-enactors led an honor guard march to the Park Lawn Cemetery for a memorial service at Park’s grave. Tom Bradigan, chaplain from the American Legion Post 1593 spoke with Gerd Tabak, from American Legion Post 1593 played “Taps.”

Kathy Nerogic traveled to the event from Salamanca. She had heard through friends the event was happening at the church. She commended the event for being such a family-friendly event.

“It’s a wonderful family and friends occasion,” said Nerogic. “It’s a phenomenal experience to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Anson. It’s nice to see how family and friends still come together.”