January 24, 1935 - Wellsville Daily Reporter

Everitt Van Nostrand, Last Civil War Veteran, Claimed by Death Here This Morning

Chronic Stomach Ailment Which Harried “Grand Old Man” Throughout Life Finally Brings End for Last Wellsville Member of Grand Army – Was First to Enlist – Military Funeral Monday Afternoon

Everett Van Nostrand is dead.

He died in his home, 82 Jefferson Street at 10 o’clock this morning at the age of 95, but he lives on in the memory of hundreds.  It was the chronic stomach ailment, which harried him through almost 75 years, that sent him to bed for the last time on Saturday.  This morning, conscious to the end, he surrendered – for the first time in life.

Answers Last Call

VanNostrand Photo1 It was as though an army of men in blue came marching out of nowhere and sounded the bugle for their comrade – the last of the Grand Army of the Republic in Wellsville – and even as he was first to respond to that call many years ago, so today, Wellsville’s “grand old man” fell in line with that invisible legion and marched away once more into the hazy something that is death.

So quietly and peacefully was life brought to an end for Everett Van Nostrand.  Behind him he leaves his wife and a nephew, Edwin Collister, of New York City, a son of his late sister, Mrs. Ellen Collister, now associated with the New York Central Railroad, having grown up like a son with the Van Nostrand’s. 

Wellsville’s last honors to the last veteran will be paid Monday.  Funeral services will be held in the late home at 2 PM, the Rev J.D. Herrick of Towanda, PA officiating.  Military rites will attend burial service in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Was Colorful Figure

Mr. Van Nostrand, was unquestionably and in the same breath – one of Wellsville most colorful and best loved figures.  His familiar figure represented a community’s adulation for one of the last of those fighting men in blue of the Civil War.  Probably no one was better known in Wellsville and certainly no one more merited the respect which he was shown.

An artist should have painted Mr. Van Nostrand for in his features in that expressive face lined by the unerring hand of time, were marked all of the characteristics of those grand old men who today still sit in peace and quiet, fading memory always carrying them back to the battle fields of that great intersectional strife.  Truly, Mr. Van Nostrand was the composite picture of all he stood for.

Wellsville must look back to those war days to glimpse the gallant young soldier that was Mr. Van Nostrand.  Born in the town of Granger on January 15, 1840 a son of Luzon and Harriet Gilchrist Van Nostrand, a grandson of Captain Isaac Van Nostrand, one of the early pioneer settlers of northern Allegany county, his was a hardy and fighting heritage.

Enlisted at 21

At the age of 21, with war clouds hovering over his country and the Union threatened, he was the first man in the town of Granger to answer the call of the Army of the North, leaving school at Rushford to shoulder arms and sacrifice his robust health in rigors of training and war that left him throughout life with a chronic stomach condition – the ailment that finally claimed him at 95.  There is every possibility also that he was the first person in Allegany county to join the Union forces on that day in May of 1861 when he enlisted in Company I, 27th regiment.

It was while barracked at Elmira even before he had seen the torment of war that the young and dashing soldier first suffered its hardships.  Billeted in Elmira in one room with 40 others, before being sent south, he suffered from gas fumes which left their mark on his health throughout his long life, a life prolonged only because of careful and right living. 

Because of his illness, he was detailed to the medical corp under Dr. Barnes of Rochester, serviced with distinction for two long years and eventually seeing action in no less that 11 bitter battles.

He saw Lincoln.

One of the prized vignettes of his vivid memory was the time he saw Abraham Lincoln. It was after the battle of Bull Run that the great President visited Van Nostrand’s war torn brigade, accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln, whose kindly heart was stirred by the long lines of tired men under the blazing sun, protected only by small skull caps.  She proceeded to make for them hooded sun shades to wear over the little caps.  The vision of that tall lanky homely man, a picture of sadness and kindness – the man who was soon to fall before a crackbrain assassin’s gunfire, remained engraved on the memory of young Van Nostrand throughout his life.

Following the war, Mr. Van Nostrand returned to Granger, where a lovely bride was waiting.  She was Prudence Smith, of the town of Granger and they were married in Nunda on November 10, 1869 by the Rev. Frank Stanley Brown.  Then began a union that stands out as a model for a generation which now takes lightly the vows of holy matrimony.  For over 65 years the couple lived in happiness and harmony in a loving companionship that today must sadden the hearts of many as it is broken by death.

At the time of their marriage, Mr. Van Nostrand was already established in the drug business in Wellsville being associated with the late E.B. Hall from 1868 until 1885.  It was in 1871 that the veteran built a home for his bride and through the years they resided in that now picturesque old brick home lovely for its antiquity, now a landmark in Wellsville.

Memorial Park VanNostrand

Plaque at Memorial Park, Wellsville at tree planted in memory of Mr. VanNostrand

Early Retirement Forced.

Recurring attacks of the stomach ailment forced Mr. Van Nostrand’s retirement at the age of 46 in 1885, but the veteran was by no means willing to surrender to the chronic illness.  The couple began their long years of simple life together, Mrs. Van Nostrand busying herself in the home which now holds many treasures of an almost forgotten period of American life, Mr. Van Nostrand keeping fit by working in his garden, carrying on a hobby of woodcarving and odd jobs of carpentry about the home.  He was through the years one of the most familiar figures on the Wellsville streets.

One incident in Mr. Van Nostrands later life must be included here.  It was at the time the Ford Motor Company was preparing to present its first Model A car.  All the countryside awaited “the new Ford”.  Mr. Van Nostrand – at 89 – decided he must have one.

The new car came and many orders were taken, among them one from Mr. Van Nostrand.  But so great was the demand that there was delay in filing the orders,  the Wellsville veteran waited patiently at first.  Then he lost all patience and wrote to Henry Ford.

“I am 80” Mr. Van Nostrand wrote to Mr. Ford.  “I want a new Ford.  But I would like to drive the new car while I am still able.”

He Got the Car.

The story goes that Mr. Ford was touched deeply by the appeal.  He rushed a wire to a Buffalo executive of his great concern and said: “Get this man a car at once”.  Mr. Van Nostrand got the car and in the months that followed, Wellsville residents saw him at the wheel of the car from which he derived many hours of enjoyment.

Mr. Van Nostrand desired a military funeral.  And as a fitting tribute to his memory, will be given the full honors of military rites.  Even now, plans for the funeral are going forward.