On October 5, 2013 Jerome Township and the New California Presbyterian Church held a centennial re-dedication of their Soldiers Monument. At the request of Reverend Phillip L. Bougher, Pastor Emeritus of the Church, Ohio Historical Society curators Cliff Eckle and John Haas took collections related to William L. Curry to display at the Church during the commemoration ceremony.
William L. Curry was born in Jerome Township, Union County in 1839. He was a member of the New California Presbyterian Church which held strong anti-slavery views. When President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers, Curry was among the first to answer the call. He served in Company K of the 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and rose to the rank of colonel.
Among the objects that curators took to New California were his uniform jacket, uniform hat, powder flask, drinking flask, revolver, holster, and haversack. Perhaps the most striking artifact is the uniform hat. You can still see brown stains of dried blood on the brim from a wound Curry suffered. Luckily for him, it was minor. The day he was wounded Curry was also captured by Confederate soldiers, but fortunately was paroled to continue service with his regiment.
The archival collections included photographs of Curry during and after the Civil War. He continued to serve as a colonel in the Ohio National Guard, and in his later years Curry was the military historian at the Ohio Historical Society. Curry donated his Civil War collection to the Society in 1927, the year of his death.
In addition to military service, Curry was a prolific writer and historian. Among his works were the official history of the 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, the history of Jerome Township and the history of Union County. Curry’s books are available in the Archives/Library Research Room on the third floor of the Ohio History Center.
A strong advocate for Civil War veterans, Curry was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Loyal Legion of Union Veterans. Curry delivered a speech at the original dedication of the Soldiers Monument in 1913. Reverend Bougher commented that having Colonel Curry’s collections present at the re-dedication of the monument made Curry’s presence feel quite strong as it had been a century before.
Cliff Eckle, Senior History Curator