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Colonel Andrew Fuller Rodgers

 

Colonel Andrew Fuller Rodgers

Source: Alton Telegraph, September 6, 1877

COL. FULLER RODGERS has a grove of three hundred sugar maples on his fine farm in Wood river township.

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Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 21, 1903

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton will go to Carbondale Wednesday to attend a reunion of his old regiment, the 80th Illinois. Col. Rodgers has not attended a reunion of his old regiment for five years and hopes to again get in touch with the members of his old command. No regiment during the war saw more honorable service than did that of Colonel Rodgers, and when the veterans get together to talk over their old experiences there will be many tales of glory on the battlefield. Col. Rodgers is among the most remarkable men in Madison county. He has enjoyed more dangerous personal experiences and has done more things that are interesting facts of history than almost any other man in the county. He went to California in 1849 with the gold seekers; later went to Mexico to take part in the war there and was the first man up in storming the heights of Chapultepec and had a most honorable part in the Civl War.

 

 

 

MRS. A. F. RODGERS HAS DANGEROUS EXPERIENCE ON "TOBOGGAN" RIDE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 12, 1904

Mrs. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton, who has been spending the last month with her family in their Chautauqua cottage, had a dangerous experience Thursday morning at Chautauqua while out with her daughter, Miss Sarah Rodgers, gathering maidenhair ferns. Mrs. Rodgers had ascended one of the Chautauqua hillsides at the north end of the valley near the upper gate, and in her hand she carried a butcher knife, long and sharp, with which she was digging ferns.  When far up the hillside, Mrs. Rodgers leaned against an old, dead tree, and the tree fell with a crash. Mrs. Rodgers fell with it down the hill and landed on the trunk of the tree, which was about 8 inches in diameter. To Mrs. Rodger's horror, the tree started on a toboggan slide down the steep hill, and she clung to it until her toboggan brought up against an obstruction, which stopped its mad flight. During the ride she carried in her hand the butcher knife, but fortunately she was not injured by it. The only hurt Mrs. Rodgers sustained was a wound on one finger, but she was badly shaken up.

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YOUNGEST SON OF COL. A. F. RODGERS WEDS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 1, 1904

A genuine surprise was sprung in the Altons Thursday by the quiet announcement of the marriage of Henry Fuller Rodgers, youngest son of Col. and Mrs. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton, to Miss Mary Edwinton Ellis, daughter of Mrs. Mary Ellis of St. Louis. The marriage took place Thursday afternoon at 1:30 o'clock at the homestead of the bride's mother, Mrs. Mary Ellis, at Troy, Missouri. The old homestead is now occupied by Mrs. Ellis' brother, William R. Brown, and because of the fact the bride's mother was married there and the bride was born in the house, it was decided to have the ceremony there. Miss Sara Rodgers, a sister of the groom, of Upper Alton, was bridesmaid, and Mr. Will Rodgers of St. Louis, a brother of the groom, was groomsman. Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers will take a trip to Montreal to visit Mr. and Mrs. Harry Phillips for a wedding trip. The bride has been cashier in the office of the St. Louis Republic for a number of years. Her father held the position before her, and at his death she succeeded him. She is said to be one of the most efficient cashiers in St. Louis, and her departure from the Republic office was deeply regretted by her employers. She is a charming young woman with many beautiful traits of character. The groom was born and reared in Upper Alton, and all the Altons are full of his friends and well-wishers, who hope that his married life may be one of unalloyed happiness. They will live at 799 Aubert avenue, St. Louis.

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SARAH BADLEY RODGERS, DAUGHTER OF COL. AND MRS. A. F. RODGERS OF UPPER ALTON, WEDS DR. HARRY KING BARNETT OF UPPER ALTON

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 15, 1904

A little ripple of surprise will be caused in the Altons by the announcement of the marriage of Miss Sarah Badley Rodgers, daughter of Col. and Mrs. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton, to Dr. Harry King Barnett of Upper Alton. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Harris H. Gregg of the Washington and Compton avenue Presbyterian church, St. Louis, at the West End hotel, and was witnessed only by a brother of the bride, Mr. William L. Rodgers of St. Louis. The couple decided to have the ceremony in private, as it was inconvenient to have some of the distant relatives come at the time, and for that reason they kept their plans secret, not divulging them even to the relatives outside the immediate family circle.....The groom is a young dentist who has built up a very lucrative practice since he settled in Upper Alton, and as his business has prospered he has likewise prospered in the esteem of all who know him. The bride is known as a young lady of the utmost sincerity of heart, and her cordial manners have won the admiration of everyone. Miss Rodgers has been one of the best liked young women in Upper Alton, and there will be many to extend the most cordial congratulations to her and her husband. She is a graduate of Monticello Seminary.

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COLONEL A. F. RODGERS WILL RECOVER SWORD

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 1, 1905

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton received another letter Monday regarding his old sword, which has been held by one of his captors and which will be given back to Col. Rodgers in a few days. The writer of the letter to Adjutant General Scott, which was turned over to Col. A. F. Rodgers, has written in response to the letter subsequently addressed to him by Col. Rodgers, in which he gives a brief account of the old sword since it left Col. Rodgers' possession when he was taken captive in 1863. The writer is Joseph Sturges of Grow, Oklahoma Territory. He says that the sword captured from Col. Rodgers was taken to Texas after the war by the possessor, who kept it the remainder of his life. Recently he died in Texas and the sword came into the possession of his son, who said that he would restore it to the original owner if he or his family were living. Accordingly Mr. Sturges, who was his neighbor and a Union veteran, set about trying to ascertain whether the owner or his family was living. Accordingly he wrote to the Adjutant General and the letter was turned over to Col. Rodgers, who took up the correspondence. Mr. Sturges writes that his neighbor lives about 40 miles from an express office and will send the sword back to Col. Rodgers as soon as he can get to the express office to send it.  He also invites Col. Rodgers to attend a reunion of old soldiers at Grow, O. T., but Col. Rodgers will be unable to go.

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COL. RODGERS RECEIVES CAPTURED SWORD

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 29, 1905

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton was the happiest man in the country today. After 42 years of captivity, he received the old sword presented to him by his mother, and which he wore away with him when he became Lieutenant Colonel of the 80th Illinois, and which was taken from him at Rose, Georgia when Col. Rodgers, with his command, was captured there in 1863 by Forrest's band. George Woods of Elk City, Oklahoma Territory had the sword, recently having come into possession of it by the death of his brother, who held possession of the sword from the time it was captured. As told by the Telegraph some time ago, Col. Rodgers had made many efforts and enlisted much assistance, without success, in finding the sword. Recently he received a letter written by a Union soldier in Oklahoma, telling him that the sword could be had by Col. Rodgers or his family if any one desired to claim it. On the blade of the sword was a Masonic emblem, and the possessor of the sword being a member of the Masonic fraternity, decided to return it, on getting possession after the original captor died. Col. Rodgers was overjoyed to get the sword back, and says he will hand it down to his family as an heirloom. On the face of the sword is the name, "Lieut. Col. A. F. Rodgers, 80th Illinois."  The Masonic square and compass were on the sword and this was what decided the man to institute search so the sword could be returned. The search was instituted through Adjutant General Scott of Illinois, who sent the first letter to Col. Rodgers, and Col. Rodgers then took up the correspondence.  The sword came by express Tuesday morning, and Col. Rodgers could hardly contain himself in his delight at recovering the old weapon. He has never found any of his other accoutrements taken from him when he was captured May 3, 1863.

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GETS HIS SWORD BACK - COL. RODGERS' SEARCH OF OVER FORTY YEARS IS FINALLY REWARDED

Source: The Union Springs New York Advertiser, February 1, 1906

A living chain in inquiry, started more than 40 years ago, has just resulted in the finding of a sword which was lost on a southern battlefield by a union officer 43 years ago. The [unreadable] weapon, given by a mother to her son when he set out for the war, was discovered in Oklahoma, many miles from where it was lost. A few weeks ago, says the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, it was restored to its proper owner, and now graces his [unreadable], a sacred relic with a history as interesting as any that has been gleaned from the records of the War of the Rebellion.

 

The owner of this sword is Colonel A. F. Rogers, of Upper Alton, Ill., well-known in this part of the country, where his early youth was spent. The colonel was born on a farm in Howard county, near Fayette, Mo., way back in 1827. His parents had settled in Howard county, the father coming from Kentucky, and the mother from Tennessee. Col. Rogers ancestors on the father's side hailed from Mon----shire, England, while his mother's people, the Jacksons, furnished a warrior captain for the War of 1812. Mr. Roger's father, Ebenezer Rogers, was a Baptist preacher, school teacher, and farmer, who taught some of the Glasgows, well known in St. Louis, in the little Howard county schoolhouse a good many years ago. In 18_3 he moved to Upper Alton, and settled on a strip of land containing about 40 acres, which he began to cultivate. When he was old enough, Col. Rogers went to Shurtleff college, of which his father was one of the oldest trustees.

 

In 1846, at the outbreak of the Mexican War, Col. Rogers, then a lad of 18, volunteered in the Second Illinois Regiment, and went to Mexico with General Taylor. He was just big enough to shoulder a musket, but he stood with his men in the battle of Buena Vista, one of the hardest fought battles of that war, when 2,000 American volunteers faced an army of 32,000 Mexicans.

 

In 1862 he entered the United States Army as a volunteer. He was the first elected captain and then lieutenant colonel of the Eightieth Illinois Regiment, which he himself organized and mustered in at Centralia, Ill. It was upon the occasion of his commission as lieutenant colonel that his mother presented him with the sword, which is the subject of this article.

 

Col. Rogers and his regiment went first to Louisville, Kentucky to assist in tarowing up the breastworks which were to hinder Bragg on his march north, and fought several battles on his march south, that of [unreadable], Arkansas, October 3, 1862, is McCook's corps, where he was wounded in the head and taken as dead from the battlefield, but one of his brothers, who was assistant surgeon, had him removed in an ambulance and soon restored him. Afterwards he joined the "[unreadable] Raiders," at Milton, and forged his way south, fought a pitched battle at Rome, Georgia, and was one of those forced to surrender to Morgan (?), after that battle.

 

In the Rome battle, the sword became detached from his side, and it was lost on the third day of March 1863. 

 

Capt. Rogers was first sent to prison at Atlanta, and from there removed to Libby prison at Richmond, where he remained 12 months. Finally at Macoa, he was exchanged with about 50 other line officers, who had been taken by the southerners. He came straight to St. Louis, and soon after his arrival was ordered by the war department raise the One Hundred and Forty-Fourth Regiment at Upper Alton, which he did, and he took his 800 men to the arsenal there to equip them. He resigned then, his health having been broken down by his wound and the long imprisonment in the South. Soon after his resignation in 1865, he began the search for his sword.

 

But the years passed, and nothing was heard of the good old sword, until on June 19 of last year, Col. Rogers received information which brought him into touch with Mr. G. W. Wood of Angora, Oklahoma. After correspondence, Mr. Wood very gladly returned the sword, with information as to how it had come into his possession. It had fallen into the hands of an older brother of Mr. Wood, who was in the confederate army and taken it to Hood county, Texas, in 1877.  There, a Masonic hall was erected and the sword, because of the Masonic emblem upon the hilt, was held there. Mr. Wood had for years been anxious to have efforts made to return the sword to its owner, and last May, while on a visit to his brother's, secured it and took the steps which have eventually brought sword and owner together. In his letter to Col. Rogers, Mr. Wood expresses this sentiment:

 

"This old relic bears with it on the blade the letter G and square and compass. That speaks in many ways. It teaches brotherly love, morality and virtue. You certainly must be a member, or it would not be there. The respect I have for this little emblem has been the cause of this coming to your hands. Respectfully yours."

 

Col. Rogers, who now rejoices to get his old sword back again, will leave it to his oldest son, with a stipulation that it shall ever remain an heirloom in his family.

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SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF BUENA VISTA - COL. A. F. RODGERS AND CAPT. WM. B. WRIGHT LAST SURVIVING ALTON VETERANS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 21, 1907

The sixtieth anniversary of the battle of Buena Vista will fall on tomorrow, and the date will be observed by Col. A. F. Rodgers and Capt. William R. Wright of Upper Alton, both of whom fought in that battle.  Col. Rodgers was 18 years of age when he enlisted for service in the war with Mexico.  Madison county sent four hundred volunteers to this war, and Alton had a big share of them. Parts of two companies were enlisted in Alton in the Second Illinois Infantry.  Col. Rodgers said today that he believes that himself and Capt. Wright are the two last Madison county survivors of Buena Vista, at least he knows of no other. It was a custom annually for four of the veterans, Col. Rodgers, Capt. Wright, H. W. Hart and John Diamond, to take dinner on the anniversary of the great battle when 2,500 American troops under General Taylor overwhelmed and defeated Santa Anna with 21,000 Mexican troops. It was a great day for American arms, and the veterans never failed to meet and recount their experiences.  Mr. Hart and Mr. Diamond are dead, and today Col. Rodgers was inviting some other friends to join in the dinner party. The Alton veteran who will celebrate tomorrow were very young when they were at Buena Vista, hardly more than boys. They had a gallant part in one of the most memorable fights in American history, and they brought back with them a record of which their children may be proud.  Col. Rodgers went to California with the first argonauts in 1849, went through experiences which are remarkable, escaped with his life from a shipwreck in which he lost all his gold and the fruits of his hard labor in California, and he returned to Alton. Later, he went through the Civil War with other remarkable experiences, including prison life and afterward honorable promotion, and ever since the Civil War he has lived a stirring life. Today he is hale and hearty and deeply interested in every event of importance in current affairs.  Capt. D. R. Sparks, who is a veteran of the Mexican War, and Mayor Beall, will join in the anniversary dinner party.

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COL. RODGERS PROVES CLAIM AGAINST GOVERNMENT FOR COLONEL'S SALARY

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 14, 1907

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton has proved his claim for back salary due him as colonel in the United States army during the Civil War for a period of nearly eighteen months, during which he was in prison in the South. Col. Rodgers was commissioned as a colonel in the army by Governor Richard Yates in April 1863, after being a Lieutenant Colonel of the 80th Illinois. Before he could be elevated to the rank of Colonel formally and mustered in as such, he was captured with part of his regiment in a big battle, and was consigned to a Confederate prison where he remained until he was exchanged. When he came out of prison he was offered the position of colonel of the 144th Illinois Regiment, which was raised for home guard duty in the vicinity of Alton by order of General Rosecrans.  During the time that intervened from the capture of Col. Rodgers until he was liberated by exchange, he never received any pay, and now he has proved quite a healthy claim against the government, which he will no doubt receive. The salary of a colonel is several hundred dollars a month. Col. Rodgers says that a law was enacted by congress making it possible for him to collect the full pay of a colonel from the time Governor Yates appointed him until he was enabled by being released from prison, to qualify in the position. He is 80 years of age.

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COL. A. F. RODGERS RESTING EASY AFTER BEING STRUCK BY AUTOMOBILE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 3, 1908

Col. A. F. Rodgers, who was struck at noon yesterday on College avenue in Upper Alton by an automobile, is reported as resting easy today. His foot that the machine ran over was badly hurt and has given him much pain, and the attending physician thinks possibly a small bone in the foot was broken. The machine struck him on the hip and he fell upon his shoulder on the pavement and he is badly bruised as a result. It is said now the auto belongs to Alton parties and the two boys driving it were Alton young men. Several people have said they narrowly escaped being struck by the machine as it was running at a high rate of speed through the village. It is said the boys were throwing stones at dogs along the street, and when the canines ran after the auto the boys "hit her up" and tried to outrun them. Col. Rodgers believes the boys were looking backward when he was knocked down as they did not appear to see him until he was run over.

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LADY RENEWS ACQUAINTANCE AFTER MANY YEARS - COL. RODGERS SAVED HER LIFE IN SHIPWRECK AND FIRE IN 1853

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 26, 1908

A few days ago Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton entertained at his home and renewed acquaintance with Mrs. Mizner, mother of Rev. Henry Mizner of St. Stephen's mission in St. Louis. It was the first meeting of the couple since they parted amid very intensely exciting circumstances, February 16, 1853. Mrs. Mizner came to Alton to see her rescuer who saved her life in a shipwreck and the burning of the vessel. On February 16, 1853 the Independence, a ship on which Col. Rodgers, then a young man seeking his fortune in the west, was a passenger, struck a rock in Magdalena Bay at one of the Margarita islands, and catching fire was burned. Over half of the 600 passengers on board lost their lives. Col. Rodgers helped the young woman, then aged 18, into a boat, and she was a passenger in the last boat that left the ship. Col. Rodgers afterward swam ashore with a young man saving his life. Mrs. Mizner always said that if it had not been for Col. Rodgers' assistance, she would have been burned to death or drowned, and for that reason she has always cherished a warm place in her heart for him. She had never seen him since she parted from him at the time of the wreck, and did not know he was still living until she learned in the newspapers that Col. Rodgers was struck by an automobile in Upper Alton and was injured. She began inquiries and learned that it was the A. F. Rodgers she had known and who had saved her life over 55 years ago, and she determined to see him at her first opportunity. When Col. Rodgers and the young lady he had known when she was only 18 years of age, now grown to be a woman of advanced years, met, they had a very pleasant time recalling olden times. Mrs. Mizner was a member of the family of Gen. Semple who laid out part of the city of Alton and at one time lived on that place now known as the Root homestead on State street. It was a very interesting meeting for Col. Rodgers, as he had not heard from Mrs. Mizner since he saved her life, and he was glad to meet her again after the lapse of fifty-five years. It was in this wreck that Col. Rodgers lost much of all his worldly possessions and he was forced to start anew. After landing on the island where the ship was wrecked, it was necessary to drag a boat three miles across the rocky piece of ground to the other side, and there some whalers in Magdalena bay were signaled and they got help for the shipwrecked survivors who were destitute of food. The island was covered with mesquite bushes and bore no other vegetation, so it was necessary to get help quick.

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GOLDEN WEDDING CELEBRATED BY COL. AND MRS. RODGERS - Not One Death in Family in the Fifty Years of Married Life of Well Known Upper Alton Couple

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 1, 1910

The golden wedding anniversary of Col. and Mrs. A. F. Rodgers was celebrated Tuesday afternoon and evening at the home of the couple in Upper Alton. It was a very quiet observance, only members of the family being present, but the home circle was complete, and it was all the more enjoyable. In this connection it may be said that in the half century since Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers were married, there has not been a death to break the family circle, either in the second or the third generations, and the life of this couple has been remarkably free from sorrow. Those who were present were Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Rodgers and four children, who recently moved from Denver to St. Louis to make their home; Mrs. Harry Phillips and two daughters of Montreal, Canada; William Rodgers of St. Louis; and Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Rodgers and son of St. Louis; and Dr. and Mrs. H. K. Barnett of Upper Alton.  Col. Rodgers and wife were married in Upper Alton fifty years ago. Col. Rodgers was taken to Upper Alton when he was 6 years of age, and he is now 82, and except the times when he was fighting in defense of his country, he has always lived there. The wedding dinner was a delightful one. The house was decorated in white and gold for the occasion, and a huge wedding cake was one of the features, decorated in the same colors. Col. Rodgers made a short talk to his assembled descendants, responding to the congratulations. His only infirmity at the present is a trouble with his eyesight. Yet his physical health is good and he is able to do some hoeing in his garden. Col. Rodgers has one of the most interesting careers of any person in the Alton. His army experiences and his trips to California in quest of gold are filled with incidents that make a good story, yet he has always been reluctant to talk much of his personal experiences. In his army experience he had many narrow escapes from death, and served a long time as a military prisoner in the South, but was finally released and took command of a regiment. Throughout his career in the army, he bore himself valorously, and when he returned home immediately resumed the ways of peace. Another interesting incident in his life was the return of a sword a few years ago, captured from him when he was taken prisoner during the Civil war, and sent back to him after many years by a man who observed on it a Masonic emblem and the name of the owner. The man who had the sword hunted, through the Adjutant General of Illinois, and found Col. Rodgers and sent him back the sword. This is one of his cherished relics.

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REUNION OF BAND WHO LEFT ALTON 65 YEARS AGO TO FIGHT OLD MEXICO

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 24, 1911

Col. and Mrs. A. F. Rodgers who have been living in their cottage at Piasa Chautauqua all spring and summer, returned home yesterday to remain. Col. Rodgers told a Telegraph reporter today that he will be busy now for several days arranging for the reunion of the band of men who left Alton sixty-five years ago, last July, to fight for Uncle Sam in the war with Old Mexico. The gathering will be held here on September 20 and 21, and the Colonel says he doesn't know how many will be present. Two years ago he says there were twelve survivors; a year ago there were nine. He is sure that two have died since then, but doesn't know if any others passed over or not. The Colonel himself is in excellent health, and has only one drawback to face as old age advances. His eyesight is very bad. Otherwise he enjoys life as much as ever, and as he has always taken an active interest in the happenings of the world daily, he now has someone to read all the daily papers contain regularly. The reunion will be held in Hotel Madison.

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ILLINOIS MEXICAN SOLDIERS REUNION - BANQUET A FEATURE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 18, 1911

Col. A. F. Rodgers has made all preparations to entertain for two days the survivors of the Illinois regiments of the Mexican war, who will meet with him Wednesday and Thursday at the Illini hotel.  Col. Rodgers has plans made to entertain the visitors with auto rides and other diversions when they come here, but one of the main features will be a banquet at the Illini hotel on Wednesday night. The old soldiers who went through the Mexican war are few in number and they are very old, so all will bring their wives or some other person along.  Col. Henry Wyatt of Franklin, Ill., president of the association, will arrive with Mrs. Wyatt tomorrow. Col. Wyatt, who has been receiving the acceptances of the old soldiers, says that so far 19 have sent word they would come, and that maybe nine more would attend, who were uncertain as to their condition of health. There will be some honorary visitors at the banquet, among them being H. B. Sparks, son of a Mexican war soldier, and beside him there will be a few other citizens who will aid in the welcome for the visitors. Col. Rodgers, who says he is the youngest of the lot, is 84 years of age. Col. Wyatt, he thinks, must be near 90.

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MEXICAN WAR VETERANS GATHER IN WHAT MAY BE LAST - TELL STORIES OF DARING DEEDS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 20, 1911

Over 65 years since they were mustered into service at Alton, Ill., the men who entered the Mexican war as Illinois troops met today in their annual reunion at Alton. The city of Alton has an important place in the memory of these men, now grown to be old and feeble, weak of sight and slow of foot. It was at Alton in 1846 and 1847, that every one of the six regiments sent by Illinois was mustered into service. Illinois was to furnish thirty full companies of 80 men each, but seventy-five companies volunteered and selection had to be made from the number. Alton was appointed as the rendezvous, and it was here the young men came, full of vigor and fight, all anxious to go to Mexico and fight for their country's honor.  Col. J. J. Hardin's regiment, Col. W. H. Bissell's regiment, and Col. Ferris Foreman's regiment, were mustered into service at Alton, July 2, 1846. The first and second named regiments started south first, and were with Gen. Taylor at the Battle of Buena Vista, which began February 22, 1847, and ended the following day with the defeat and routing of Santa Anna. The third, Col. Foreman's regiment, was joined with the fourth, which was organized because of the great demand for entrance of some of the disappointed ones, and they went south too, after being mustered in at Alton, July 18, 1846. The fifth regiment was organized at Alton, June 8, 1847, and mustered out here October 18, 1848. The sixth regiment was organized at Alton, August 3, 1847, under Col. James Collins, and was mustered out at Alton, July 25, 1848 at Alton. The first and second were mustered out in Mexico. For these reasons, it is very appropriate that the Mexican war veterans should hold at Alton what some of them say will be their last reunion. It is hardly to be expected that men so old and so feeble would be able to meet again, much as they would be pleased to do so. Most of the Madison county men enlisted in the regiment of Col. Bissell, afterwards Gov. Bissell, and Madison turned out a good quota. This much for the historical side of the reunion, which younger people may not know of. The Illinois regiments furnished about 5,000 men for service in the Mexican war, lost many from sickness and on long marches to Mexico, and they lost heavily in the battles in which they engaged. Illinois was at all the important battles, and the First and Second [regiments] received particular praise, in connection with a Kentucky regiment, for the part they bore in the battle of Buena Vista, in which at odds of five to one the Illinois troops stayed the advance of Santa Anna and his troops. Of the 6,000 Illinois troops, there is a very small regiment. In the whole country there are left only about 4,000, less than the number that Illinois furnished alone. This figure was obtained by the secretary of the Illinois association, to be read at the reunion, showing how fast the Mexican war soldiers are falling off. The reunion with Col. and Mrs. A. F. Rodgers began Tuesday evening, when Col. and Mrs. Wyatt arrived. Col. Wyatt got his title in the Civil War, although he held a commission of lower grade in the Mexican war. At the same time, there came with them, J. G. Hammer of Pekin, who is past 91, and is the father of Mrs. William R. Demonbreun of Fifth and Alby streets. With them was a genuine "old hickory," Thomas Cooper of Pekin, Ill., who is "only 81" and disputes Col. Rodgers claim of being the "kid" of the gang. However, he enlisted at New Orleans, and not in an Illinois regiment, which saves the honor for Col. Rodgers among Illinois volunteers. Cooper says that he makes personally conducted tours every winter to Mexico, and has done it for thirty years. He is young in actions and no doubt when he is conducting a party is young as the rest of them. He spends every winter in the city of Mexico. In preparation for the gathering, Col. Rodgers had made arrangements for the veterans and their wives, or their companions, to have quarters and meals at the Illini. Almost every one of them had to come with a companion because of their age, and so arrangements were made in doubles. Big badges had been provided for the visitors, and every courtesy they could desire was ordered extended to them. When the old soldiers began arriving Tuesday evening, it became apparent that there were no really young men in the crowd. Some of them are vigorous, able to take care of themselves, and some are so feeble that they require constant attention.  Mrs. Rufus Cleveland, of Galesburg, whose husband is 85 but is young in looks and action, suggested to him that he get busy and look after some of these "old men."  Mr. Cleveland said he would, and he did. The ages of the men who had registered are between 81 and 91. The roster of those present is as follows:

 

Col. W. J. Wyatt (86), Franklin, Ill. Col. A. F. Rodgers (84), Upper Alton, Ill. J. G. Herron (85), Carrollton, Ill. John Velker (81), Whitehall, Ill.
John Hammer (91), Loami Rufus Cleveland (85), Galesburg David Smith (84), Sumner Albert Kinkade (88), Olney
John Wedig (87), Nameoki, Ill. M. F. Howe (85), Ashmore, Ill. Michael McEnnis (85), St. Louis, Mo Thomas Cooper (81), Pekin
Robert Wornick (87), Blue Mound, Ill. J. D. Bramlet (87), Eldorado, Ill. Jacob Miller (87), Ramsey, Ill. John King (84), Jacksonville, Ill.
John McConnell (84), Mt. Vernon, Ill.      

 

Mrs. Wyatt says she has 87 names on her list, and that 34 accepted the invitation to attend the reunion. The morning was devoted to enrolling the arrivals, and the old soldiers told war stories while they sat around the upstairs dining room of the Illini. After luncheon, they had a business session, and tonight they will have a banquet tendered to them by Col. Rodgers. Col. Rodgers has planned an interesting feature for the old soldiers. When the regiments were encamped at Alton, they had their camp in what is now the residence district of Middletown. The place is now filled with houses where woods once were, and the old soldiers will find little to remind them of the early day. They will be taken around to view the city in automobiles, and afterward they will hold their election of officers. The banquet tonight will be at the Illini hotel.  J. Nick Perria, an honorary member of the association, will be the principal speaker.

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OLD SOLDIERS CLIMB STAIRS - ELEVATOR AT ILLINI HOTEL WENT OUT OF BUSINESS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 20, 1911

Today, the Illini hotel elevator was out of business, just at the very worst time. Manager Ratz thought it would be ready to resume business at noon, but it was not, and the old soldiers, borne down by the age of years, were obliged to climb the stairs or take passage in the freight elevator. Some of them were very feeble and could not walk up the stairs to their meeting place. Some of the old men were obliged to go to bed after sitting around a while. Others condemned anybody who tried to look after them, and insisted upon looking after themselves. "You would think I was an old man," one of them complained, "the way people want to help me around and try to look after me."

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MEMBERS OF OLD SETTLERS UNION WANT COL. A. F. RODGERS AS PRINCIPAL ORATOR AT ANNUAL MEETING IN JUNE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 23, 1913

The annual gathering of the members of the Old Settlers Union of Madison county will be held in Edwardsville, June 4, and the meeting always interesting, will be particularly so this season. The Union was organized on the 21st of September, 1887, at the home of the late Volney P. Richmond at Liberty Prairie, and Col. Rodgers of Alton is the only survivor of the charter members. The program committee this year will try to get Col. Rodgers for the principal speaker at the June reunion, and it is likely he will agree to the proposition for, despite his 85 years, he is hale, hearty, full of life and activity, and in addition is a very entertaining talker. He knows early day country history, and was a very important figure himself in making much of that history, and his talk will be not only interesting and entertaining, but will be very instructive likewise.

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LOOKING FOR REUNION WITH OLD FRIEND - HORACE McTARR, WHOSE LIFE HE SAVED MANY YEARS AGO

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 2, 1913

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton is looking forward with pleasant anticipation to a promised visit from a friend of Mary years ago, Horace McTarr, whose life Col. Rodgers saved when the ship Independence sank off the California coast, and many lives were lost more than sixty years ago. McTarr is now a wealthy contractor in Pittsburg, Pa., and in a round-about way learned that Col. Rodgers was still alive. When the ship Independence went down, a girl who afterward became Mrs. Mizner, was on board and was saved. A son of Mrs. Mizner recently met McTarr during a trip and learned that he was a survivor of the Independence. When McTarr learned that Mrs. Mizner's mother was also a survivor of the shipwreck, he went to see her and there he learned that Col. Rodgers was still living, so he wrote at once engaging to meet Col. Rodgers some time when he was in this part of the country. It has developed that McTarr was only a boy and was unable to swim, and that Col. Rodgers, then a very young man, took him in tow and swam ashore with him. McTarr thought Col. Rodgers was dead, and Col. Rodgers thought the same of McTarr. However, they will soon meet again. McTarr has written his recollection of the wreck, and so has Mrs. Mizner, and Col. Rodgers will give his recollections. It is possible that of the number saved from this wreck, that the three mentioned are the only ones living, and they may plan a reunion at some near date.

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RODGERS - ACKERMAN SALE TOMORROW

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 13, 1913

A public sale will be held tomorrow at the Col. A. F. Rodgers farm in the State hospital site. Fred Ackerman, who has been Col. Rodgers tenant on this farm almost twenty years, will quit farming here and will leave the place. As Col. Rodgers has sol out to the State, the two men will sell their personal property jointly. They have an immense herd of milch cows, each owning half, and these cows will be disposed of. There is a great deal of personal property to be put up at auction. Mr. Ackerman will go to Canada to farm when he leaves this country.

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OLD TIME FRIENDS HAD A REUNION

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 20, 1913

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton has just been having a reunion with an old time friend, Capt. H. G. H. Tarr of New York City, a wealthy contractor, in their reunion there was much that was interesting. The last they saw of each other was at the time of the sinking of the ship, Independence, off the California Coast sixty years ago. They separated after the wreck, and each thought the other had died. It was by chance that they came together, and were able to enjoy another opportunity to talk over the old times and review the story of the wreck of the Independence and see how exact each had retained the story in his mind. Col. Rodgers saved the life of the man who visited him for a few days at his home in Upper Alton. The man of today was a mere boy then, and he could not swim. Col. Rodgers aided in getting him to shore. He had good reasons for believing in later years that Tarr was dead, and it was only last summer that Col. Rodgers received word from Tarr that he had heard of him through Mrs. Mizner, mother of Wilson Mizner of St. Louis, and that he wanted to visit him the first time he was anywhere near Alton and talk over the incidents of the wreck of the Independence. It was in this wreck that many lives were lost, and Tarr's father was one who was drowned. In the years since then, Tarr has prospered greatly. He served during the Civil War and rose to the rank of Captain. He is now a prosperous contractor. It was like a voice from the grave when Col. Rodgers just saw him. The aged Upper Alton man, whose eyesight is dimmed, eagerly scanned the face of the now aged contractor to see whether or not there were in his features any of the lines that had distinguished his father. The reunion was an exceedingly joyous one. Col. Rodgers has had his recollections of the wreck of the Independence set down and so has Capt. Tarr. A few years ago, Col. Rodgers was visited by Mrs. Mizner of St. Louis, who was a survivor of the wreck of the same ship, and whose life he had assisted in saving. Sixty years ago Col. Rodgers was a strong young man, a good swimmer, and he did able service that day in life saving. Mrs. Mizner thought he was dead and happened by chance to learn he was living. So she came to visit him. Then when her son met Tarr during a trip early this summer, he told of his mother being alive and through her Tarr learned of the fact that Col. Rodgers was still living.

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COL. RODGERS WAS 40 YEARS ON BOARD - GIVEN HONORARY JOB

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 13, 1914

At the annual meeting of the stockholders and directors of the Northwestern Mutual Fire Insurance company held this morning in the Upper Alton village hall, Col. A. F. Rodgers, the only one of the original incorporators of the association forty years ago, who is now an officer in the company, was unanimously voted an honorary director for life. His term as an active director will not expire for another year....

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COL. RODGERS MAY BE ONLY MEXICAN WAR VETERAN LIVING IN THIS VICINITY

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 21, 1914

Col. A. F. Rodgers, a soldier in Co. E, Second Illinois regiment during the Mexican war, 1840-48, is perhaps the last survivor in Madison county of the soldiers who responded to the call for volunteers. A few years ago Col. Rodgers entertained the Mexican War veterans at Alton, and he was one of the youngest of the lot. When interviewed today, Col. Rodgers said that he does not know of any of the survivors of the war of '40-48 in Madison County, but of this he is not absolutely certain. It was sixty-eight years ago that Col. Rodgers, then a mere boy, started away to war in Mexico, and he saw some stirring scenes there and he participated in some bloody battles in the old Second Illinois. This state bore the most important part in the Mexican War, aside from Texas regiments.

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MORE THAN THIRTY TONS OF GRANITE FROM VERMONT BEING PLACED IN RODGERS LOT IN OAKWOOD CEMETERY BY WILLIAM FLYNN

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 4, 1914

For two or three days, William Flynn, the Belle street marble cutter and monument dealer has had a large force of men at work conveying to, and placing in position in Oakwood cemetery, a large granite monument, the material for which came from Vermont. The base weighs more than fifteen tons, and the part that goes immediately above the base weighs as much more. The apex is not so heavy of course. The monument is a very fine one, and has cut in the granite on the base the name "Rodgers." It was purchased by Col. A. F. Rodgers and his brother, Edward Rodgers. The Rodgers cemetery lot is as yet untenanted and Altonians generally will join in the hope that it will be very many years before any member of the family will find a resting place there.

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COL. RODGERS ENJOYS FISHING

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 6, 1914

Col. A. F. Rodgers, soldier, statesman, politician and general man of affairs, was down from Piasa Chautauqua today, and in conversation with a Telegraph reporter said he is enjoying the summer at the health and pleasure resort very much. His health was never better, and it is only his eye sight that causes him any trouble. He said Mrs. Rodgers, too, was enjoying good health at the resort. When asked if he was catching any fish this summer, the Colonel, who is an enthusiastic and successful angler, replied "lots of them. I caught seven very fine ones Monday and yesterday I caught a great many more perch, several of which weighed two and one half pounds each." He said he fishes with three poles and lines, and that each line is equipped with three baited hooks. The lines are long enough to be thrown at least thirty feet from shore into the river. Upon each pole the Colonel has a bell, and the least nibble at the hooks causes a bell to ring. His hearing is acute and as soon as the bell rings he gets a hold of the pole upon which the alarming bell is fastened, and the rest is easy. He keeps the poles secured on shore by piling a large heavy rock on the end of each pole, and the poles are set out about twelve feet apart. Col. Rodgers is almost 8_ years young.

 

COL. A. F. RODGERS INJURED IN FALL - SUSTAINS SLIGHT CASE OF BRAIN CONCUSSION

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 4, 1915

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton had a fall Sunday morning in his home, sustaining a case of concussion of the brain, which, it is believed, he will rally from, if no complications set in. He had risen early and was making his way through the house when he fell and struck his head. A surgeon was called and found that the concussion of the brain was the only bad effect he could notice. Col. Rodgers is 88 years of age and a veteran of two wars. He served through the Mexican and the Civil wars with honor in both cases. He has had a stirring career, was one of the Argonauts who went to California in the early days, and has had many a near-breath escape. Those who know him well feel that a man who has gone through so much, and so safely, as Col. Rodgers has done, will have no difficulty in overcoming the shock from a slight fall in his own home. He is a man wonderfully well preserved except as to sight, and it was his defective vision that caused him to have the fall.

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COL. A. F. RODGERS ALTON'S ONLY MEXICAN WAR VETERAN - IS STILL A PATRIOT

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 22, 1916

Just seventy years ago today - June 22, 1846 - Col. A. F. Rodgers volunteered to go to war against Mexico. He was between 18 and 19 years old, and thought it would be fun to join the army on its march to Mexico to protect the interests of America. In discussing the Mexican situation today, Col. Rodgers said to a Telegraph reporter that he believes we are in for a war with Mexico again. The Colonel said he responded to the call for volunteers on the 22nd day of June in 1846, and the boys were held at Alton a couple of weeks before being mustered into the service. "On the 14th day of July," Col. Rodgers continued, "we were mustered in by United States Army officers in the yard at the old Bob Smith place in Middletown, and we started off the same day down the river for New Orleans. We never got back to Alton again after that day until the war was over." Col. Rodgers will be 89 years old next October, and will commence his 90th year at that time. He is in splendid health, but his sight has failed until he is unable to get about on the street alone. He cannot see to read at all and the papers with the war news and all other news have to be read to him by members of his family. He is vitally interested in the Mexican troubles of the present time. A staunch Democrat, he says he thinks President Wilson has gone as far as any President of the United States could go in trying to keep out of a fight with Mexico, and that he believes now there is no way possible to avoid a war. He says he expects the Mexicans to attack the United States troops that are in Mexico at any time, and when they do the trouble will begin in earnest. Col. Rodgers says that if other nations do not take part in the fight, and he doesn't think they will, it will be a very short war. He says the Mexicans are generally a half civilized lot of people with no education, no discipline and the men in the army do not amount to anything. He says the army has no officers that can be depended upon and he doesn't believe they have anything like the equipment for fighting they are reported to have. As to the ammunition this country has been flooding into Mexico, the Colonel says he believes it has mostly been used up in their fighting among themselves. He thinks Villa has very likely been storing away some ammunition because he has been trying all the time to get the United States into trouble with Mexico, but it will take the United States a short time to "make a cleaning" in Mexico. He says the young men in the United States are just like they were when he went to the Mexican war - they think it will be fun and there are plenty of them ready to go down to the border to protect America against the murderous Mexicans. He thinks the Mexicans are the most treacherous people in the world, and he believes nine-tenths of the Mexicans are friends of Villa. He continued: "I am mighty glad to see the young men of this country responding so promptly to the call to arms. They are responding more liberally than I expected, and the response has been sufficient to guarantee that Mexico can be completely wiped up by the United States in a very short time, if it comes to a show down. Mexico would be very foolish to tackle this country, especially in the shape that country is in after fighting so long among themselves." Besides participating in the Mexican war and going through some of the worst battle and the greatest victories of the war, Col. Rodgers served in the Civil War as a Union soldier. If he were younger and had better sight, he would be found now enlisting to fight the Mexicans as he has always been a seeker for adventure in places where danger was the greatest.

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COL. RODGERS CAN SEE AGAIN - VISION IMPROVED FOLLOWING OPERATION

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 13, 1916

Col. A. F. Rodgers, well known retired farmer, prominent Democratic politician, Mexican and Civil War veteran, ardent fisherman, and a most excellent citizen generally, will not have to wear bells on his fishing pole in future, in order to be certain fish are nibbling at the bait. He lost his eyesight some time ago, partially, and after a time totally, the trouble being the formation of cataracts. He had small bells attached to his fishing poles because while his eyesight was failing steadily, his hearing was becoming even more acute, and he could hear that bell ringing at the least nibble. On his birthday, October 13, as told in the Telegraph, Col. Rodgers entered a St. Louis hospital to submit to an operation which it was hoped would restore the sight. The operation was successful; the cataract was removed and a few days since he returned to his home on College avenue. He can see again out of one eye, and the sight is becoming stronger daily. He was forced to recognize friends by the sound of their voices for the last few years, but he can now recognize them by sight. Yesterday he walked uptown from his home, and delighted many people en-route by recognizing them on sight and calling out to them before they spoke to him. He is not using his eye much yet, that being the orders of the surgeons who want the member to become stronger before too much work is put upon it. It is certain, however, that it will soon be in a condition that will permit him using it all of the time, after which he can do his own reading and seeing. The cataract on the other eye is not yet ready for the knife but it is likely it will be removed as was the other when the time comes, and the affable Colonel will again have two perfectly good eyes.

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COL. A. F. RODGERS - 300 POUNDS OF FISH IN NINE WEEKS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 5, 1917

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton made a record of catching 300 pounds of fish in nine weeks. He has returned home from a summer stay at Chautauqua, and never in his years of experience did he have such a good time, nor has he enjoyed better fishing than he had this year. It will be recalled that when Col. Rodgers' sight failed, he invented an annunciator to let him know by his keen sense of hearing when he had a bite on his line. He needs no eyes to land a fish after he gets that tinkle of the bell. Col. Rodgers will be 90 years old next month. For years his sight had been failing, and not long ago the veteran of two wars and the hero of many experiences in the days of gold seeking on the California coast, underwent a surgical operation on his eyes to improve his sight. It worked all right on one of his eyes, and his sight was much improved. That probably accounts for the fact that he had such good success fishing this year. Though he is nearing ninety, he is still strong and active and there is no more enthusiastic fisherman any place than Col. Rodgers. He was one of the founders of Piasa Chautauqua, and has been one of its most enthusiastic supporters in years gone by, serving as superintendent for years very satisfactorily.

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COL. RODGERS OBSERVES 90TH BIRTHDAY

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 15, 1917

Saturday, October 13th, was the 90th birthday anniversary of Col. A. F. Rodgers. It was observed with a family dinner party at the home of Dr. and Mrs. H. K. Barnett on College avenue, with about twenty guests present. Col. Rodgers, who recently regained the use of his eyes so that he can see to go about unattended and can easily recognize acquaintances, after a period of almost complete blindness, is in a remarkable state of good health. Though he is ninety years old, he has no difficulty in ascending steep grades in Alton without slackening his pace. He thinks nothing of climbing Third street hill from Piasa to Market, and only a few days before his birthday made the climb without any slackening of speed or laboring in his breathing. At the party, Saturday evening, one novel feature was the cutting of a huge birthday cake with Col. Rodger's sword, by Col. Rodgers himself. This sword has a history. It was captured from Col. Rodgers during the Civil War when he was taken prisoner. On it was engraved his name and rank and there was a Masonic emblem on it. The sword happened to fall into the hands of a member of the Masonic lodge for use. Over forty years afterward some one thought that perhaps the owner might be found, and inquiring through the Adjutant General of Illinois, learned Col. Rodgers was still living at Alton. The sword was returned to him and is one of his most treasured possessions. It was wielded by the Colonel Saturday evening in cutting up the birthday cake that had been baked for the occasion.

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COL. A. F. RODGERS WAS 92 TODAY

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 13, 1919

Col. A. F. Rodgers of Upper Alton was 92 years old today. He spent the day very quietly. It was said at his home there was no formal celebration, and that there would be not even a family gathering, as the members of the family are not here. Col. and Mrs. Rodgers enjoyed the day at their home. Col. Rodgers is in remarkably good health, notwithstanding his great age.

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60TH YEAR OF MARRIAGE IS CELEBRATED

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 1, 1920

Monday was the sixtieth anniversary of the marriage of Col. and Mrs. A. F. Rodgers. It was a date that one might think would be on the mind of the couple, but so interested were they in plans for Memorial Day observance, the venerable couple paid no attention to their own anniversary. The children were not unmindful of it, however, and they had planned a fitting observance of the anniversary. Col. and Mrs. Rodgers went to Oakwood Cemetery to participate in the Memorial Day observance there. Col. Rodgers is 93 years of age and is one of two surviving veterans of the Mexican War still alive in Madison County. He, therefore, was a big feature of the Memorial Day observance at Oakwood, and there was special mention of him in the principal speech of the day by C. C. Ellison. But, when Col. and Mrs. Rodgers arrived home, they found a real surprise. Their daughter, Mrs. Harry Phillips of Montreal, with her daughter, Miss Madeline, were there visiting, but to cap the joy of the occasion, all the rest of the children had come, at the invitation of Mrs. H. K. Barnett, the other daughter. There was William Rodgers, Fuller Rodgers, his wife and son and John Rodgers, his wife and four children - the whole family - waiting for the aged couple when they came home. Beside, after the family dinner party, which was enjoyed by twenty-two persons, other relatives and friends came in and there was a joyful time. There was no evening gathering, owing to the fact that the couple were well wearied by the excitement of such a full day. Both are young in spirits though not in years, and both are capable of enjoying fully the manifestations of love and affection shown by their family and friends.

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COL. RODGERS SICK TWO WEEKS, IS MUCH WEAKER

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 18, 1922

Col. A. F. Rodgers, who has been sick two weeks at his home on College avenue, was reported today as being much weaker. His family had been hopeful that he would recover as he did not appear to be very sick, but was confined to his bed. The venerable veteran of two wars was not accustomed to being in bed, as in his whole life he had suffered very little from ill health, and would never give up, even if not feeling well. Today it was noticed that his strength had fallen off greatly, and his condition was the cause of much anxiety to those most interested in him. He does not yet know of the death of his brother, Reynold Rodgers, whose body is to be brought here from El Paso, Texas tonight, and whose funeral is scheduled tomorrow. Col. Rodgers is one of the best known men in Alton. His life has been an active one. He was one of the gold seekers to make the trip to California when gold was discovered there. He was in the Mexican war and he also served in the Civil War. His life has been one of stirring adventure, and he has been a man of the hardiest physique. The fact that he would be content to remain in bed is one of the discouraging features of his sickness. It was said today that he was conscious, but rapidly losing in strength.

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RODGERS, ANDREW FULLER (COLONEL)/Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 20, 1922       Hero of Two Wars Dies at Home Here

The adventuresome career of one of Madison County's most picturesque pioneers came to an end when Col. Andrew Fuller Rodgers, veteran of two wars and prominent in civic life, in Alton, died this morning at 7:20 o'clock at his home on College avenue, after an illness of about two weeks. His death due to a physical breakdown from old age. He would have been 95 years of age next October 13. Col. Rodger's life was one singularly full of stirring adventure. It was a life remarkable for a connecting up of the past with the present. The fact that he was fortunate enough to live to an old age, blessed with bodily and mental vigor, interested in all that went on about him, made it possible for Col. Rodgers to connect threads that were broken off in his early life, and he found the ends later on. Numerous incidents can be related of the strange linking together of old time events of his younger day experiences he had in his later years. His breakdown was recognized as the probably beginning of the end. The fact that he was content to remain in bed was the most discouraging fact about this old soldier and adventurer, who had never in his long life confessed his inability to combat physical weakness. That he was not going to rally was a foregone conclusion when he showed no inclination to be up and about. Up to the time he broke down two weeks ago, about the only sign of failure was the loss of his eyesight. That had taken effect a few years ago, but beside that he was in good condition. The aged wife, from whom he had been separated but a few times since he married her back when both were young, is prostrated. She has been anticipating such an end as came this morning to her aged partner in life, but the crisis found her unprepared, and she has since been confined to her bed. Col. Rodgers did not know that his last brother, Reynold Rodgers, was buried the afternoon before his own end came. He was not told of the death of his brother.

 

That type of American immortalized in song, story and history, he blazed the trail of progress, participated as a leader in the great movements of his time. Resourceful, energetic, enterprising, courageous, upright, his experiences included service in two wars - in one of which he was a prisoner for more than a year - participation in the gold rush of '49, shipwreck with 250 others on an island in the Pacific, service in the State Legislature. No task was too great, no duty too tedious for this man, who was a living example of that American of which the world is so envious, and unable to completely fathom. Of indomitable will, he accomplished what he set out to do. Nothing seemed impossible to him, no situation too trying. Whatever the circumstances, however great the chances against him, Col. Rodgers did that which always seemed right, and did it well.

 

Col. Rodgers was born in Howard County, Missouri, on October 13, 1827. He was the son of a pioneer Baptist minister, the Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers. The Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers was born in England and came to America in 1818, locating at Louisville, Ky.. In 1819 he accompanied Cyrus Edwards to a new home in Howard County. Mr. Edwards was prominently identified with the early history of Alton. In 1834 the Rev. Mr. Rodgers moved to Upper Alton and located on a farm of 40 acres, since included in the limits of Upper Alton. He was one of the founders of Shurtleff College, and one of its early trustees. In 1823 he married Permelia Jackson, of a family that settled in Howard County in 1818. Col. Rodgers was one of twelve children.

 

Col. Rodgers was one of the early students of Shurtleff College. In 1844 he became a clerk in a St. Louis hardware establishment, but returned to Upper Alton before the beginning of the war with Mexico. When the war with the southern republic broke out, Col. Rodgers became a member of Col. Bissell's Second Illinois Infantry under Captain Lott in Company E. It was in the Mexican War that the career of adventure of Col. Rodgers dawned. Brave and possessing that fire and determination so necessary, he was the ideal soldier. He gave distinguished service with his regiment in a number of engagements, the chief of which was at Buena Vista. After the war he returned home. But farm life was without the excitement and thrills sought by this conquering American. He joined the gold rush to California in 1849. A year at the mines was followed by service more suitable to young Rodgers. He served as a deputy sheriff of Sacramento County, and was a member of the famed Sutter Rifle Company. He returned home for a visit, and on his return voyage to California added to his adventures that of being shipwrecked. His vessel was wrecked in the Pacific in 1853 with the loss of 250 passengers. Col. Rodgers, with a few other survivors, was cast on Margueretta Island. At that time he saved the life of a girl passenger. Fifty years later he learned that the girl he saved was living in St. Louis, the mother of a clergyman of the Episcopal Church. The survivors were finally picked up by a whaling vessel, which landed them at San Francisco. Col. Rodgers again served as a deputy sheriff and lived in Sacramento County until 1853, when he went to the mines. The following year his father died, and he returned to Alton in July 1854. He was married on May 31, 1860, to Jane E. Delaplain, a member of one of Madison County's oldest families. Young Rodgers continued at home, tending the farm and sawmill, until the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1862 he entered the service as Captain of Company B of the Eightieth Illinois Infantry, and when the troops were mustered in on August 25 of the same year, he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment. His service in the Civil War was arduous, eventful and of a distinguished order. He was carried from the field of battle at Perryville, Ky., wounded. In April 1863, having recovered, he commanded his regiment in a raid against Bragg's army.  His audacious leadership won for his regiment many victories. The resourcefulness of the young commander made of the outfit an efficient, able fighting force. In 1863 his force was captured at Rome, Ga. He and his fellow officers were made prisoners and kept at Danville. Later, they were transferred to the notorious Libby prison. Col. Rodgers spent 12 months there. He was afterward transferred to the prison at Macon, and finally to Charleston. At Charleston, Col. Rodgers and his fellow officers were placed in a cell directly in line with the enemy's fire, and in this perilous position remained for six weeks, until released by exchange. While in the Southern prisons, Lieut. Col. Rodgers was commissioned Colonel, a title he had fully earned, by his service in the field and exposure in the prisons. Upon his return to the North, he recruited 500 men for the 144th Illinois regiment, at the request of Governor Yates and General Rosecrans. He resigned from the army on November 25, 1864.

 

When his regiment was captured at Rose, a sword given Col. Rodgers by Alton friends upon his departure from home, was stolen. On the handle of the sword were a Masonic emblem and the name of the owner. Fifty years later, Col. Rodgers was informed by the adjutant general of Illinois that a man in Texas was seeking an officer by name of A. F. Rodgers. The sword was returned to the Alton officer by a brother of the man who led the Southern troops which captured Col. Rodger's force. The sword had been used in a Texas Masonic lodge as the tyler sword.

 

Col. Rodgers was a leader in civic affairs. His energy and ability were in demand when a public movement was projected. In politics, he was a staunch Democrat, and in his earlier years was devoted to Stephen A. Douglas. He was frequently a delegate to district and state conventions and in 1870 was elected to the state legislature. He was prominent in Masonic circles, and was the oldest Knight Templar in the city. He was made a Mason in Upper Alton in 1852.  Following his retirement from the army, Col. Rodgers lived on his estate near Upper Alton. Col. Rodgers was one of Alton's most picturesque characters. Many anecdotes are told of him. One of them is that he attached a small bell to his fishing pole when fishing, so that he might be warned when fish were biting. Mr. Rodgers' surviving children are John B., Catherine, William, Sarah H., and Henry F. Colonel Rodgers engaged in two wars, and lived during four of the nation's six important wars. A veteran of the Mexican and Civil Wars, he lived during the Spanish-American and Great wars. After having fought in two, he had sons and grandsons in the other two. Colonel Rodgers' death was the first in his own immediate family, all his children and grandchildren being alive. On the other hand, he was the last of his father's children, the funeral of his brother taking place the day before his death. Describing the meeting with the girl he saved in the shipwreck in the Pacific, in "Reminiscences," as prepared from Col. Rodgers' story by a daughter, the colonel said:  "A few years ago (the Reminiscences were collected in 1910) the Rev. Henry Watson Minzer, of St. Louis, read an account of a gathering of the few remaining Mexican soldiers in Alton. Later, when here, he asked to be taken to see them, as he wished to know if they remembered his father who was at Buena Vista with the same regiment. I happened to be chosen. At college and in the Mexican war I knew his father well, and immediately asked if it was true that he had married Ella Watson. Strange to say, the answer was 'Yes,' and I could scarcely realize that before me stood the son of the beautiful young girl I last saw during the wreck of the 'Independence.' Several months later, when Mrs. Ella Watson Mizner was visiting her son, they stopped at Alton, and although after a lapse of 55 years, we were immediately taken back to our last meeting on the burning 'Independence.'"  The reminiscences of Col. Rodgers are concluded with: "With all the children away, we are alone again, just as we started our journey together, 50 years ago."

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COL. RODGERS' CAREER AT A GLANCE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 20, 1922

1827 - Born in Howard County, Missouri

1834 - Moved to Alton with parents

1844 - Became clerk in St. Louis store

1846 - Enlisted for Mexican War

1849 - Joined gold rush to California

1853 - Shipwrecked on Margueretta Island in Pacific, enroute to California after visit home.

1854 - Returned home on death of father

1860 - Married to Jane F. Delaplain

1862 - Enlisted for Civil War, made Captain. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

1863 - Resumed command of regiment after recovering from wounds received at Perryville, Ky. Captured, made prisoner for more than a year

1864 - Resigned from army

1870 - Elected to legislature

 

Read his sister's obituary             

 

 

Tombstone of Colonel A. F. Rodgers

 

Rest In Peace Colonel Rodgers

Tombstone in Upper Alton (Oakwood) Cemetery, Alton, IL

Photo taken in March 2010

 

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Photo of Col. Andrew F. Rodgers home, 105 Rodgers Avenue, Alton, IL

From the book, Our 150 Years, Madison County, 1962

 

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Copyright Bev Bauser.  All Rights Reserved.