STODDARD, CHARLES S, Private, Minnesota 2nd US Cavalry, 1864-1865 Officially Unassigned to a Company, Fort Snelling, Minnesota
Born: October 23, 1846, in Hampshire, Illinois,
Married: Laura Belle Gossard, 14, September 1875
Charles and Laura Belle had 2 sons. The youngest son, Harry, was born in 1881. Harry married Myrtle Rolph and had 3 children. The oldest son, Rolph, had 3 children from whom this member descends.
His father was a Tanner who emigrated from England in 1837 and died when Charles was only 5 years old in 1851.
Personal Life and Military History:
Shortly after the death of his father in 1853, his mother, Catherine, married her second husband, Thomas Smith, and moved to Minnesota with Charles and his younger sister, Martha. Thomas was a farmer and Charles worked on the family farm until he was 16.
At that time, he tried to enlist in 1863 in the Union Army but was turned down on account of his age.
As a result, Charles went back to help work on his uncle’s farm in Northern Illinois who was away in the Union Army.
He finally obtained his mother’s consent and voluntarily enlisted again in Hastings, MN on July 30, 1864. He was mustered into the 2nd Minnesota Cavalry as a Private assigned to the Company of Captain C. C. Hunt at Fort Snelling, Minn. His duration of service was for one year. He was responsible for guarding draftees at the garrison who were being mustered into the regular Union infantry, trained, and then sent off for active duty elsewhere. Occasionally he would go out on patrol of the Sioux Indian tribes that were camped just outside the Fort to keep the peace. He wrote in his diary at the time of the suffering he witnessed of the Indians and fellow soldiers who were dying of typhoid fever. He mustered out of the service on May 11, 1865, with an honorable discharge. He decided without delay that his life goal was to become a doctor to help heal the suffering of others.
He first saved his soldier’s pay and bought corner lots in Farmington, Minnesota, and then later sold them for a profit. With the proceeds, he made a down payment on a farm near his mother’s home near Castle Rock, Minn. From the earnings of his summer farming, he was able to afford to attend Hamlin University in Redwing, Minnesota for one year.
He then entered Jennings Seminary in Aurora, Illinois, as a university student for 4 years while working on the local farms during the harvest season. After graduating, he was given a teaching certificate for 1 year and taught school nearby in Castle Rock, near his mother. He then began the study of medicine in a doctor’s office in Owatonna, MN. In 1872 he started his first formal medical school training at Bennett Medical College in Chicago, IL, and later graduated from there in 1874. During his visits back to Owatonna, to work for the local doctor in between semesters he met a schoolteacher, Laura Belle Gossard. She was the daughter of Reverend T.M. Gossard, Pastor of the Methodist Church in Northfield, Minnesota. After a two-year engagement, they were married on September 14, 1875.
In that same year, he was elected Surgeon of Weiser, MN Post #31 of the G.A.R. and later became its Commander. From 1876-1878, he was elected Medical Director of the Minnesota Division of the Grand Army of the Republic. He then became Senior Vice Commander for all of Minnesota. He was also selected to be the Examining Surgeon for Pensions at Scott and Carter Counties, in 1877.
He practiced medicine for the next few years in southern Minnesota. By then he had become a father of two sons, Thomas born in 1878 and Harry born in 1881.
To further his education and residency he attended to patients at the famous Bellevue Hospital in New York City and graduated from there in March of 1883 with an MD diploma and board-certified Surgeon.
In 1886, he moved with his wife Laura Belle, and his young family to Santa Barbara to set up a medical practice. Charles served as a beloved physician for 42 years before his death in 1928. His wife Laura Belle became prominent in the local community as one of the founding female members of the board of directors of the Cottage Hospital. They both were active members of the Grace Methodist church in town. Charles served as a patron for the CA/NV Department of the daughters of Union Veterans, Commander of the local Starr-King Post #52 as well as Department Commander for the CA/NV G.A.R. He also served as the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Public Health. He examined the sanitation at local dairies and inspected prisons for safety. He even held a position as a trustee on the Santa Barbara School board in 1898.
After the death of his wife, Laura Belle in 1915, he suggested in 1921, that the local Starr-King chapter of the Women’s Relief Corp name the new Tent #22 in honor of his late wife, Laura Belle, who spent countless hours donating her time to the Relief of Civil War veterans, just as he did.
So, from then on, for over one hundred years, Tent # 22 has been so named in LAURA BELLE’s honor!
He died on May 18, 1928, and is buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery in Montecito, overlooking the Pacific Ocean alongside his wife, Laura Belle. It is said that flags flew at half-mast throughout the city and hundreds showed up for his funeral.
In 1931, 250 persons honored the memory of Dr. Charles S. Stoddard at the dedication of a Redwood tree and plaque that still stands to this day over 100 feet tall on the lawn of the First Methodist Episcopal Church on the corner of Anapamu and Garden Streets in Santa Barbara. The presentation was made by the representatives of the Starr King chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Women’s Relief Corps auxiliary of the GAR, and the Laura Belle Stoddard Tent #22 of the daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
Pamela Stoddard DeWeerd.