Monday, July 21, 2014

On this Date in Minnesota history: July 21

July 21, 1885 - "Thirty-four survivors from Minnesota Company B of Civil War fame met and formed 'The Last Man Club', the first of its kind in the nation. The survivors gathered annually at the old Sawyer House, where the Lowell Inn now stands. The chairs of the departed were draped in black and the centerpiece was a bottle of wine, donated by Louis Hospes, to be consumed by the last survivor.

Each year the number dwindled and the gatherings became less joyful, and in 1928 the three remaining members decided to close or disband the club. Charles Lockwood became the 'last survivor,' and before his passing in 1935 is quoted as saying, 'Don't anyone ever start another club like this.'” 

Charles Lockwood

Charles Lockwood

Thirty-four surviving veterans of the First Minnesota, Company B, met yearly to remember those who had “crossed the river.” This wine bottle stood at the center of the banquet table at each gathering; only the last survivor was to open it. On July 21, 1930, Charles Lockwood fulfilled the club’s promise. Surrounded by 33 vacant chairs, he stood and toasted his departed comrades and regiment’s memories.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson at Minnesota Historical Society Civil War Exhibit - Minnesota History Center; March 2–Sept. 8, 2013. Released into the public domain July 21, 2014, as long as acknowledgement included.

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