Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring / Summer of History-Civil War 150- Lake County, Ohio - John ( General Jack) Casement

John (Jack) Casement was born in New York in 1829. At the time of his death in 1909, his accomplishments rivaled other better known American figures.  An airport, Casement in Painesville, a WWII Liberty Ship, and an Ohio Historical Marker (#12-43) now bear his name.  Hailing from New York and arriving in Ohio in 1850 by way of Michigan, John Casement aged 21 had spent a large part of his youth working for the railroads.  Newly employed by the Lake Shore Railroad Company to lay track, it took him only three years to secure his first railroad construction job on his own.  While laying track on Jennings Road in Lake County, he met his future wife Francis ( soon to become a noted women's rights and suffrage pioneer as well as an 18th and 19th Amendment contributor).  They married in 1857 and moved to Painesville.

The Civil War interrupted his railroad career and led him down the road to another avenue of historical prominence.  Joining the local Seventh Regiment, he served as a major under General George McClellan.  As an infantry soldier, his unit gave General Stonewall Jackson his only defeat.  By 1863, he was fighting for the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and in 1865 he attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Union Army.  Commands held included the Second Brigade, Third Division, and XXIII Corps.  Casement participated in the Carolinas Campaign.  Major battles fought included Nashville, Franklin and Wilmington.

1869 saw former General Jack return to the business of laying track.  He and his brother Daniel took positions with the Union Pacific Railroad.  Union Pacific lore claims he laid eight miles of track in a single day.  At the time of his death, he had laid over 1044 miles of track in the United States.  During this period of railroad greatness, John never failed to call Painesville home.  He befriended Buffalo Bill Cody and brought Bill and Annie Oakley to Painesville in 1901.  His family home was designed by Charles W. Heard and Jonathan Goldsmith.   Built in 1870 for wife Frances by the Jennings, it remained in the family until 1953. Their house on Casement Drive remains a residence today.  Both John and Francis Casement are buried in Painesville's Evergreen Cemetery, #14- Division 10 -West side.  The Casement Home and cemetery marker are two spots worth viewing during this spring / summer of history as Ohio remembers the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

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