Private Israel Rickard
Israel Rickard (spelled "Reckard" in the AG's roster, and "Reekard" in the muster roll) is shown as 45 years of age at his enlistment as a wagoner in Co. G of the 76th NY. He lied about his age - he was actually 61, as can be seen in the obituary below, from the Cortland Standard for March 10?, 1898. Rickard Street in Cortland, New York, is named for him.
AN ACTIVE AND USEFUL LIFE BROUGHT TO ITS CLOSE
Oldest Man in Cortland County Died Saturday Evening - Was Born Dec. 31, 1800 - A Veteran of the Civil War and a Pioneer Resident of the County - Sketch of His Life
Israel Rickard, the oldest man in Cortland County, died Saturday evening at the home of his nephew, Mr. E.O. Rickard, 90 Clinton Ave. He was afflicted with no disease, but death came as the natural result of old age and its attendant impairment of body and health. Mr. Rickard had been in his usual health until about a month ago, when he began to grow weaker, and his friends realized that the end was not far distant. Death came gradually, and was like the fading out of daylight into darkness. He was 97 years, 3 months and 8 days of age.
No better pen picture of his life could be given than the following which was written by Mr. Martin Edgecomb of Cortland which appeared in the National Tribune of June 25, 1896:
Grover Post 98, Department of New York, claims to have mustered the oldest veteran in the United States. At an adjourned meeting in the G.A.R. hall May 21, the post mustered Israel Rickard, aged 95 years and 5 months, lacking ten days. It was an impressive scene as the aged veteran stood before the open Bible and crossed swords, in the presence of thirteen of his comrades, and with a strong voice repeated after Senior Vice-Commander J. F. Wheeler the obligation of the order. When the word "flag" was repeated, he voluntarily said, "I love that flag. It looks good to me. I have always stood by it."
Comrade Israel Rickard was born at Coleraine, Mass., Dec. 31, 1800. It was the last day of the year and the last day of the month, and the last day of the week and the last hour of the day. It being near midnight - New Years Day - when he first breathed the breath of life. He was the sixth child of a family of twelve children, six boys and six girls. All except the comrade died some years since, his father died about the age of 45 and his mother at nearly 70.
Early in 1803 Comrade Rickard moved from Massachusetts, together with his father's family to Truxton, N.Y., when the country was a wilderness. At the age of 11 he was bound out to a farmer, and was subject to him until he was 21, during which time Comrade Rickard says he had an "axe or handspike in his hand most of the time." Reaching his majority, he worked for different farmers wherever he could obtain the best wages. At the age of 25 he married his first wife, who was the mother of his two children, who died in infancy. His wife died about three years after marriage. About three years later he married his second wife, who died thirteen years ago last September, leaving no children. Comodore Rickard has lived a widower since.
From 2 years of age he lived in the town of Truxton until about thirty years ago, when he went to Pennsylvania, where he lived about ten years. He then came to the town of Cortlandville, N.Y., and bought a farm adjoining the county farm, where his last wife died. Being alone and childless, he broke up housekeeping and removed about fourteen years ago to 90 Clinton Ave., Cortland, making his home with his brother Washington, and since the latter's death, with his nephew E.O. Rickard, at the same place.
Commander Rickard is a man of powerful build, muscular and corageous, and has enjoyed the best of health. He never called the aid of a physician but once, when he had the typhoid pneumonia, from which he entirely recovered except for the impairing of his eyesight.
He was present at Port Watson at the time the troops, who had enlisted in this vicinity in the War of 1812, marched toward Albany. He had one brother in the war of 1812, and an uncle was killed at the battle of Bunker Hill.
Israel Rickard enlisted in the sixty-first year of his age in Captain Lansing's Co. G, Seventy-sixth N.Y., Sept. 30, 1861, and was mustered into the United States service Oct. 4, 1861. He served as a wagon-master for a time, but that proved uncongenial, so he shouldered his musket and joined the ranks as a private and served faithfully until discharged on account of disability, he having lost his teeth. After having procured artificial teeth, he again offered to enlist, but was not accepted on account of age.
When Comrade Rickard enlisted he was 5 feet 10 inches high and weighed 225 pounds. He was always present with his company, ready and willing to obey any order from his officers, and always on or a little ahead of time at the place of appointment. There never was any shirking or shrinking from duty or danger. He always marched every Memorial Day at the head of the column a distance of over two miles to and from the cemetery, and on the Memorial Day of this year he had expected to do so again, but was persuaded to ride in a hack.
Mr. Rickard still enjoys planting and working the garden, and only this spring just past he walked eight miles distant to Truxton. Not long since, when walking down a flight of stairs unaided, Comrade H.B. Greenman offered to support him in descending. Not accepting the offer, he said to Mr. Greenman, "if you are weak I will carry you."
Politically, Mr. Rickard was a Whig and then a Republican and has never failed to vote the aforesaid party tickets in every election each year but one, because of change of residence. He voted for Henry Clay for president in 1824, when Clay ran against Gen. Jackson. Comrade Rickard is still very patriotic, and takes an interest in the welfare of our country, especially in the matter of protection to American industries and sound money.
In the issue of THE STANDARD of May 22, 1896, appeared the following:
Mr. Israel Rickard, the oldest veteran of the Civil War in this part of the state, was mustered into Grover post, No. 98, G.A.R. yesterday afternoon at a special meeting of the post at 2 o'clock. Mr. Rickard was a private in the Seventy-sixth regiment, Company G, commanded by Captain Aaron Sager. He enlisted in the fall of 1861, at the age of 60 years, and at first had charge of a wagon train, but soon shouldered a musket, preferring that to driving mules.
The funeral will be held from his residence, 90 Clinton Ave. Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock and will be attended by Grover post in a body, who will have charge of the services at the grave in Cortland Rural cemetery. Rev. Adelbert Chapman, pastor of the First Baptist church, will deliver the funeral sermon.
Rickard is buried in the Cortland Rural Cemetery - Mike Brown Photo May 2010
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- Last Updated August 6, 2011