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The 41st OVI Home Front - An Incident in Stow

"Toward the end of the war, a practice developed in a number of localities of forcing contributions from people who had donated nothing to bounty funds*. The targets of the "raiding" were generally copperheads, who had defiantly condemned all bounty contributions. So serious a challenge to one's personal rights did this become that a law was introduced in the state senate to prohibit it. In the last month of the war, however, a "raiding" venture at Stow Corners in Summit County led to tragedy. The committee of Stow Township, badly in need of funds, on its own authority levied assessments on all people eligible for the draft as well as on all property owners. Most assessees paid the tax without protest, but a few absolutely refused to pay.

One of the non-payers was a well-to-do farmer, named William Graham, who lived a mile from Stow Corners. Graham was assessed $50.00 for his property; and his son, who was liable for the draft, was hit for another $10.00. On March 2, 1865, the committee called on Graham, who was working in his fields. One member was delegated to approach Graham; but, angry and armed, Graham ordered him away, firing a shot to enforce the order. Then, as a neighbor came rushing across the road to appease Graham, the latter moved along his property line to where the committee was standing, and killed two members with gun-blasts at point-blank range. Graham defied one and all to come and get him, and it was not until dusk that a posse finally cornered, wounded, and captured him."

From "Ohio's Bounty System in the Civil War", a pamphlet by Eugene C. Murdock, The Ohio State University Press, 1963 (produced for the Ohio Civil War Centennial Committee). The original source was area newspapers, primarily the Summit County Beacon of March 9, 18, and 23, 1865.

*The bounty funds referred to here were set up to provide incentive payments for individuals to volunteer for military service. By the end of the war, men could sometimes be paid $800 or more for volunteering.

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Date last updated 08/22/98

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