Each time the last surviving veteran from any war passes away, it marks the end of an era and the closing of a chapter in history. The question of who was the last often brings lively debate. In some cases, the claims are contested and not verifiable, and in other times, early records are missing. We’ve combed our archives to share the stories of some veterans who are among the last survivors from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, and WWI.
Revolutionary War: Daniel Frederick Bakeman was the last soldier from the Revolutionary War to receive a pension. He was 109 years old when he died in 1869. Though no specific records to validate Bakeman’s claim of service survived, authorities deemed his testimony credible, and he received a pension. Bakeman was born in Schoharie County, New York, in 1759. At age 18, he enlisted and served as a private in the Tryon County Militia. He fought at the Battle of Johnstown. After the war, Bakeman married Susan Brewer, and they had eight children. Bakeman outlived his wife and two children. He died in Freedom, New York, on April 5, 1869. In his 109 years, Bakeman experienced inventions that revolutionized daily living, such as trains, gas lighting, elevators, typewriters, the sewing machine, and photography. His lengthy pension file contains records, letters, and testimony.
War of 1812: Hiram Cronk was born in Frankfort, New York, on April 19, 1800. He enlisted in the 157th Regiment of the New York militia on October 8, 1814. He was 14 years old and served at the naval station at Sacket’s Harbor. Following the war, Cronk married Mary Thornton. He worked as a shoemaker, and they had ten children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. During his lifetime, Cronk witnessed incredible advances, including the invention of electric lighting, the automobile, and the airplane. When Cronk passed away in 1905, he was honored with a state funeral in New York City. Thousands lined the streets to view his funeral procession. The event was captured on film and preserved in the Library of Congress.
Civil War: When Albert Henry Woolson was young, he met Abraham Lincoln. It’s hard to comprehend that a soldier who met President Lincoln in the 1860s survived long enough to see Elvis Presley’s hits top the charts in the 1950s. Woolson was born in Antwerp, Minnesota, on February 11, 1847. He enlisted as a drummer boy on October 10, 1864, in the 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment, Company C. During Woolson’s lifetime, he had a front-row seat to history and watched the industrial revolution transform the country’s landscape. On his 109th birthday, Woolson said he enjoyed pipes and cigars and smoked for nearly a century, beginning when he was 12. Woolson died in 1956.
WWI: The last surviving American veteran of WWI was Cpl. Frank Woodruff Buckles. Buckles was born on February 1, 1901, in Missouri. He enlisted at 16 and served in the American Expeditionary Forces with a detachment from Fort Riley. He mostly drove ambulances and motorcycles in Germany and France. Following the war, Buckles sailed home aboard the Carpathia – the same ship that rescued survivors of the Titanic. Buckles went to work as a purser on commercial ships. He was in the Philippines in 1941 when Japan invaded and became a civilian POW. He endured nearly three years of cruel treatment before being freed after a US Army raid on the prison where he was held. In 2008, President George W. Bush invited Buckles to the White House. Buckles lived 110 years, passing away on February 27, 2011. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
To learn more about these and other veterans, explore military records, veteran Memorials, and other collections today on Fold3®!
We owe a lot to these Gentlemen.
I wonder if they saw AMERICA today would they have fought that hard?
Thanks to Fold3 for keeping our history alive.
And let us not forget Nathan Edward Cook (1885-1992) US Navy, the last surviving veteran of the Spanish American War (officially 1898-1902). Cook served through World War II.
Daniel Frederick Bakeman was my Maternal 6X Great Grandfather! Thank you for your service Grandpa!
Amazing! Look at all the history these people witnessed. I’m 81 and was born on May 18, 1941, just five months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Sometimes I stop and think about all the history I have witnessed, look, I’m writing this on my home computer. It’s been an amazing life so far.
Hi Mr Van Steenburg,
I greatly appreciate your history, and willingness to share it with others. However, “the Japanese” as an entire ethnic group did not bomb Pearl Harbor. The government and military of Japan made that choice.
Many members of my family are Asian or Eurasian. I can’t blame them for decisions made by their governments. Just as I hope people outside of the US don’t blame me for decisions my government makes. Yes, I vote at every election. This doesn’t make me responsible for every decision made by every branch of our government.
(And yes, had I been alive, I would have protested against the atomic bombs my government chose to ‘deliver’ to Japan. Their country has suffered through 3 generations of health problems — including death — since ‘45.)
Wishing you and yours a peaceful night, and an amazing day tomorrow,
I don’t think that Mr. Van Steenburg was lumping all Japanese together. I am almost as old as he is and have lived through the same eras. My dad and uncles have served in the wars of the last century. I served in Vietnam. One of my Japanese friends, who also served in Vietnam, lived in a Japanese internment camp in California when he was young. My neighbors are Vietnamese, Chinese, Romanian, Russian and those are just the ones I know. We are all friends. This is a great country. We have made many mistakes but have learned so much from them. Oh, I almost forgot my wife’s family is from Mexico. Have a great day.
Lisa Harmer, People of those years referred to the “Japanese booming of Pearl Harbor” as a common phrase. Consider educating yourself on how each generation expressed themselves in those years. Communication is the key!
Thank you Mr. Steenburg. I sometimes think that many of us don’t appreciate what we’ve lived through and the changes that occur on a daily basis. Bravo sir. Lisa, I respectfully disagree. As an “American” you are supportive of a Government “of the People, by the People and for the People”, regardless of how you voted. Therefore you are responsible for the actions your government makes- for better or for worse.
I was born in 1942, and I feel as you do about all the history I have lived through. We have seen so much in our lifetimes! I took a 14 year old cousin on a tour of historic places in our family today, and when she asked why they had so many children, and why men had so many wives, it led to a conversation about lack of contraception and antibiotics, and a lot of other things that have changed the lives of people in the last 100 years! Many of those changes happened in our lifetime!
Ezra Edward Hill Sr., a WWII veteran from Baltimore believed to be the oldest living man in U.S., dies at 111
My Grandfather Vincent Witschen was one of the lost battalion survivors of WW1. He died Jan 17 1972.
That was an amazing episode in the Great War. They were great men.
Oh wow! I so admire the men of the Lost Battalion. Their bravery and perseverance. What an amazing group of men.
What a story that was! I did a paper.o. The Lost Battalion and had to “create” a memorial when I took a course on World War I. Did a lot of research and work on that. What a great learning experience it was for me. My granddad was a WWI medic..came to the war somewhat late. He never got his Service Medal but my mom was able to when a warehouse full of them and other stuff was found in the 1970s. It’s fragile, at least the ribbon is and I ha e to swear on.y life I will take get care of it when I borrow it…also have his discharge papers in the original leather case. A story I want to flesh out some day. Thank ls toen like your grandfather we have what we have today
My grandfather had two brothers who did not make it out of that battle. One is buried in Argonne in a US Military Cemetery. The other was a victim of being gassed and died a while later back in the states. A third brother, while in basic training at Camp Haddock, Georgia, came down with the “Spanish Flu” and died while there. They are all heroes, whether they made it through or not. They must never be forgotten. “Heroes All”!
According to ‘Finding the Lost Battalion” by Robert J. LAPLANDER, your Grandfather was in “K” Cy 307th inf Regiment , 3rd Battalion and is a true member of the Lost Battalion episode, October 2-8 -1918.
According to ‘Finding the Lost Battalion” by Robert J. LAPLANDER, your Grandfather was in “K” Cy 307th inf Regiment , 3rd Battalion and is a true member of the Lost Battalion episode, October 2-8 -1918.
Fantastic stories of even better Patriots!!
Thanks to Fold3 for keeping history alive. I thank these veterans for their service. God Bless all veterans.
i’ve had the privilege of working in VA hospitals. Met veterans from the Spanish American war to the first Gulf War then i retired. my late husband’s great uncle was a Rough Rider.
Magnificent Hoorah’s rendered to these Veterans! Quite a tale each and every one.
Semper Fi from a grunt Oorah!
We owe a debt of gratitude to these men and those that follow in the military service of this nation.
Amazing history. True heros of America!
My father, Rober W Weber, passed 09/29/2022. Born 02/10/1936 He was in the Koren War
My dad was in the Korean War, too. On his way over, his ship passed over the International Dateline on June 25, 1953. I was born on that day! Dad is still alive and doing well for a 92-yr.-old. God bless him and all of our military personnel.
I’m 79,a Vietnam Vet. Many of my senior NCOs were vets from as far back as WW1. Tough, strong an great leader!! Those old Vets, were grandfathers in my eyes and very protective of we “kids”! We could not get away with any bs. I learned so much from them; respect, trust, honor, duty and commitment and love for my country . Oorah grandfathers!!!
Hello Jenny Ashcraft,
I would like to add John Shepherd as one of the last survivors of the French and Indian War. He fought with Washington at Braddock’s Defeat and also in the Revolutionary War at Brandywine and Germantown.
Please see http://www.johnshepherdfamily.com/john-shepherd.html for more info.
My mother, Audrey Ewry Payne, always said that she was the 9th woman in Chicago, IL, to enlist in the Marines in WWII. She attained the rank of Sergent & was given an Honorable Discharge after the war.
When asked “why the Marines?”, she would reply “That’s where the men are!”
Stories are amazing. I’m doing genealogy and have found family that have fought in several wars. I’m so proud of all veterans. May God Bless Them Always.
I retired in 1985 after 30 years Navy service. People ask me what I did in the Navy and my answer is usually, “a little bit of everything”. I had a great career and feel blessed to have found the Navy and blessed in my life. And yes I have seen lots of change in the Navy, in technology and in our society.
My father and his brother were both on the Navy and both were assigned to the Pacific fleet. We were fortunate that both of them came back without a scratch! Dad retired after 22 years of service a Lt. Commander, but I’m not sure about when his brother retired. Both said that they had good careers in the Navy.
Ron, thank you for your 30 years of service!
Not mentioned are Spanish-American War veterans (1898), albeit other than Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders” at San Juan Hill few are remembered.
Next-door neighbor in North Omaha as we moved into our house in 1955 was Mr. John Barber, a veteran of Nebraska’s S.A. Contingent serving in the Philippines. (Remembering Admiral Dewey’s order to his flagship captain in Battle of Manila Bay, “You may fire when ready, Gridley.”) Barber was born in early 1870’s and died circa 1959. He was a retired banker and former bond salesman, also great-uncle of financial guru Warren Buffett. Latter “Oracle of Omaha” credits much of John’s mentoring with Berkshire Hathaway success.
Awesome story! Thank you
Good day. Is this Bobby Shanks from BDA
I love these stories! Thank you for sharing!
I got my heritage ancestor line in America from Ancestry, but it contained no info on military service. My first ancestor William Backus, immigrated to Boston, Mass. in 1637. Is there a way to determine any US military service? – Charles Edward Backus (age – 85)
DAR has extensive genealogy records, especially for the Revolutionary War. You could contact your local DAR chapter to see if they have any information on him. You need birth and death date at least.
I have seen the name of Backus a few times in Ulster County, NY., history between 1780’s to late 1800s.
Even if your ancestor was a very young child when he came to America in 1637, he would not have been alive during the Revolution that started 138 years later in 1775. He also would have been 126 in the final year of the French & Indian war of 1756-1763. Also unlikely.
However, he could have participated in King Philip’s War in 1675-76, or King William’s War or other conflicts between the British and the French then in charge of Canada until 1763.
Although your first ancestor who immigrated in 1637 would not have been alive in the Revolution, his descendants–children or, most likely, his grandchildren–probably would have, and no doubt fought or provided assistance during the American Revolution. You could contact DAR or SAR (Sons of the American Revolution) to help you track that info down. If you have access to Ancestry online, you can also search military records for each ancestor on Ancestry, or Fold3.
” Daniel Frederick Bakeman was the last soldier from the Revolutionary War to receive a pension.”
Great stories, thanks Fold3 for sharing
Much honor to all veterans. We owe them so much. Frank Buckles was my cousin. He was an amazing, kind man!
I salute all those who served in military campaigns and appreciate hearing the stories of strife and their bravery.
I have a 3x Great Grandfather Frederick Price who served in Civil War who was taken prisoner in 1864, went to Confederate POW camp and apparently died of some disease before the conflict ended.
Unfortunately he is one of many who lies somewhere in an unmarked grave.
Thank you for your service.
Your comment touched me deeply.
Through Family Search, I indexed many, many names of soldiers and other information pertaining to their service from the Civil War, WWI, WWII.
During the Civil War so many soldiers were very young, fathers & sons, uncles & cousins joined individually, together or group. True patriots.
I did this to honor those who served and I was searching for the ship my
aunt, who served in WWII army nurse corp, was on while on route from North Africa to Italy.
It saddens me to know that so many soldiers lie in unmarked graves.
Know that wherever they live, their service & ultimate sacrifice are honored.
During the Civil War the average age for Union soldiers was almost 26, about 6-7 years older than the average private in Vietnam. It was not unusual to see men in their 30s and 40s serving in the line of CW regiments.
Through my Ancestry research I learned Fred Price was taken prisoner to a CSA POW Camp Ford at Smith County, Texas where many POWs died of disease. Those who lived were later transferred to another POW camp in Louisiana. The records at both of these camps acknowledge burials of so many Unknown Union Soldiers.
I honor them one and all…
You could join and become a member in The Sons of Union Veterans or the Civil War. I belong to the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1860-1864.
Sharon, I didn’t know of that organization.
Thanks, I’ll check it out.
They all did their sacred duty and honored our nation by their example. God will give them grace in the hereafter and we will never forget their devotion and sacrifice.
It is so interesting reading about these amazing men and their part in our history. I found out I have an ancestor named Bela Graves who is buried not far from Mr. Bakeman in Allegany County, N.Y. He lived to be 101 years old or more. He was born in Connecticut and served in militia units there. He too outlived his wife and at least one of his children. I have another ancestor Enos Ludden who is buried close by them in Hindsdale, Cattaraugus County, N.Y. He served from Braintree, Massachusetts and married there after the revolution. His father, older brother and future father-in-law all served and likely uncles and many other relatives. We owe them so much!
I have two ancestors who served in New York Militia units during the war of 1812. They were both denied anything afterword for their service? One was claimed to have deserted thit his whatever he was issued. In my searches I discovered discahage papers from his units. One included 5 extra days of pay as this was the time it was calculated it would take for him to walk the 100 miles back to his home! That does not sound like a deserter to me? Often their pension or bounty land claimes were processed many years after their inlistments. The documentation needed to verify their service often consisted of finding anyone alive who might remember them. It is my opinion that the person who remembered him as a deserter had the wrong person. There was at lease one other person with the same name who served. My second ancestor who served in the War or 1812 died shortly after submitting his application for a pension or bounty lands. It was denied? His widow and family continued to submit applications for his service to which his widow would be entitled a widow’s benefit. They were too were denied. After his widow died in 1883 their son passed along information on her death and the fact that the family never recieved anything for their patriots service. This ancestor’s wife was the first cousin of President James Garfield’s mother. Himself a Union General during the Civil War. My observation of these events is: the officers in these militia units made some very impressive money compared to the private soldiers. They seemed to control many things perhaps including the inlistments of the men serving under them? So you may find the high ranking officers receiving hundreds of dollars for several months service while the privates were paid $10 or $12 dollars for a few weeks inlistment? My ancestors served at different times with short inlistments? So it appeared that men were being added and dropped from these units during this war? I would like to see them honored even at this late time for their services. I feel they are long overdo !
Thank you fold3 for preserving history. It is so important to let everyone know what transpired too make it possible for us to have the freedoms that we have today.
I am the Regent for the Van Rensselaer chapter ,Troy,NY, NSDAR. We take pride in preserving history and educating as much as possible. It is wonderful that there are such organizations committed to spreading awareness of our heritage. Thank you for all that you do.
My Grandmother’s grandfather Miles Moore was the Drummer Boy 54th Massachusetts USCT 1863-65 and Buffalo Soldier Fort Clark Texas 1867-70. He was in the the same outfit with Frederick Douglas’s two sons.
The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War by Richard Rubin is a great book about the author interviewing all of the remaining US WWI veterans when they were 103 years old or older.
I remember him writing that one of these veterans living in the north would climb up on his roof to shovel off the snow when he was 107 years old.
Very interesting.found out that my relatives served in the Civil War, WW1, WW II, Korea, Vietnam and Dessert storm.
We owe these heroes so very much for our freedoms. We owed a debt that these gentlemen paid. Rest well, your day is done.
What about the last surviving veteran of the Spanish-American War in 1898?
My father, Capt. Harry Axel Anderson, served as a Merchant Marine during WWII. His two brothers Roy and Walter and sister Ruth served in the US Navy. His cousin, Admiral Clifford Swanson, M.D., served aboard the USS Missouri during WWII, was present at the surrender of Japan in Tokyo Harbor, and later became Surgeon General for President Truman. My mother’s brother, Sigmund, served in the US Army during WWII. I served in the US Army during Vietnam War.
The Fold3 information was enlightening, and so many of the comments were so touching! Thank you for this entry!
Just think of all the hardships all these men endured! Still they lived long rich lives! Those are the men who built this country, not the politicians ( especially the politicians of today) that are there to take the credit!! Lord God save us from the direction this country is taking now!
My Father was in WWII and served over 18 months on Adak Island (Alaska) in the Aleutian Islands campaign. Heis 15 days from his 101 birthday, born in November 1921. He is in failing health and may not make it to 101. Growing up living in a small northern Wisconsin lumber town, the depression era of the 1930’s and WWII formed him for life. Gave much to his family, and as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent. Knights of Columbus and served on the VFW burial platoon for 20 years. Hi uncle (two Purple Hearts with Patton) and sister (uniformed Coast Guard at War Department) and his Father in WWI served to make America great. All of these military people contributed to the good, the bad, the fabric of our country. Thanks to all the Old Soldiers and a tip of the hat to Fold3.
Dear Mr. LaFleur,
Please pass on my Happy Birthday wishes to your father for me. And I wish to thank him, and the rest of your family who served in the United States Armed Forces, for all of their efforts to keeping this country safe from harm. Thank you!
The familial motives to participate in war correlate to the traumas of war – both of which run in our unconscious minds
My maternal great grandfather Christian Theodore Martin Broemer was born in 1841 in Saxe-Weimar, Germany. He learned the trade of blacksmithing and Machinist. In 1859 he shipped on the whaling ship “Delphine” as a blacksmith (or armor). In the following year he shipped on the steamer “New York” as a blacksmith for six voyages. On the sixth voyage to New York, in 1861 he enlisted in the 41st New York Volunteer Infantry and took part in the following engagements while in the service of his adopted country: Cross Key, Rappahannock and the second battle of Bull Run, where he was slightly wounded by a fragment of a shell. Later while on picket duty at Fairfax Court House Virginia, he was taken ill with typhoid fever, and sent to the Northeastern Hospital at Philadelphia, PA from which he was honorably discharged. President Abe Lincoln shook his hand while on a visit to the wounded.
He married Emma Solomon, who was born in Cornwall, England and they married in 1865. They had 13 children, nine of whom survived. My grandfather Christian Fredrick Broemer being one of them
My great grandfather died in 1925. He founded the Hancock, Mi fire department after the fire of 1870.
By 1993 when a Broemer Family book was put together he had at least 250 descendants.
My dad joined the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked and had to have his parents sign for him, he was 17. Ten days later he was on a train to Great Lakes. His first ship was the USS Washington BB-56, he was on it until the end of the war. He spent seven years in the Navy, four years in the Air Force Reserve, then the Coast Guard Reserve. He retired as a CWO-4, and as a Lt. from the Louisville Ky, Police Department. Dad past away 4 years ago this coming Dec., at the age of 94.
I served in the Navy aboard 3 different aircraft carriers, USS Saratoga GM Division Vietnam, the USS Enterprise VF-1 Vietnam Evacuation and USS Constellation VA-147 Peace Time. I also served 1-1/2 years at Cubi Point Philippines.
My brother served in the Army after Vietnam.
Thanks for the articles and to all those who served. God Bless you all and have a Blessed weekend.
Let us not forget Daniel O’Connel Huntl
I’m sort of a vet. I never served in the military. But have served as a vet of the N-SSA for 52 years, For any who has never heard of the N-SSA its better know as the North -South Skirmish Ass. We are trying to keep the memory of the Civil War alive.
Albert Woolson is my 7th cousin on my paternal grandmother’s side. I never knew about this. Thanks for posting.
What a wonderful story. Thank you for the treasured information!
@ Lisa Harmer
Why so sensitive? Of course it was “The Japanese” that bombed Pearl Harbor.
Just as “The Americans” entered the Viet Nam War, and “The British” attacked “The Colonies” during our Revolutionary War.
Those statements make perfect sense and yet none are intended to incorporate every single individual citizen of those particular countries.
Obviously, you feel an affinity to the Japanese people as a group, which is fine, but to get ruffled because someone says “The Japanese” bombed Pearl Harbor is trite. No one said “Lisa Harmer” bombed Pearl Harbor.
I am 81, Served in Viet Nam as an interpreter/infantry. I served 21 years in the Army retiring as Master Sergeant. It would be nice if I could hit 100. What a trip I had. Many of my buddies are gone now and one of them and I have stayed in touch for over 55 years. We are the same age but sadly he is experiencing Alzheimer’s and we don’t communicate like we used to. He was a great American soldier and we served together in several places to include Viet Nam. We retired almost together, and he went on to serve a head of the Joint Casualty Resolution Committee. He was one of the last off the roof in Saigon in April 1975. He lost a son and wife, Nova, in a plane crash while assisting the evacuation of orphans. He co-authored the book “Leave No Man Behind”. Garnett E. Bell, aka Bill Bell.
Hello Sarge, he sounds like a good friend. I’m glad you made it out ok, I trust that you’ve had a great life so far. I didn’t get to Vietnam, like you I’m 81 and amazed that I’ve lasted this long. I joined the Marines in 1958 and left in 1964. I’m shooting for 100 but with all that is happening to me I believe I’ll fall short, never give up, it is amazing what the docs can do these days. Stay frosty my friend and I’m rooting for you to hit the 100 jackpot.
Dedication to these men who served without reservation to there own needs
A poem I remember, about a very old veteran of our Revolutionary War, as seen by Oliver Wendell Holmes:
I saw him once before,
as he passed by my door.
The cobblestones resound
as he totters over the ground
on his cane.
They say that in his prime,
ere the pruning knife of time
cut him down,
Not a better man was found
by the Cryer on his round
thru the town.
But now he walks the streets,
and he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan;
And he shakes his weary head,
that it seems as if he said:
“They are gone.”
So, the last surviving American must still be alive, eh? I hope he lives to be 130, pr longer, if he is of sound mind. It would suck to be that old, and not have all your senses about you. I hope I live to be, at least, 150 yr.s old before I go home . Really, I want to live forever, but, only if my mind is healthy.
I agree, a healthy mind is an intricate part of getting us all home.
I am looking for any soldiers remaining from serving in Germany in 1945 who crossed the Rhine River at the end of the war. I have a soldier in my senior living community who would like to connect.
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