Bayha, John Philip, Sgt., Battery D, 1st WV Lt. Artillery, James A. Garfield Post 80, Red Cloud, NE


And Charles O Rovohl Post 302 G.A.R., Colby, Kansas

Bayha_1901John Philip Bayha (BAY – hay) was born on February 15, 1843 in what was then Wheeling, Virginia, as the second child of 4 sons and 2 daughters to an emigrant German couple. His father, Louis J. Bayha (b. 1813 in Germany), was a baker who arrived in the US at age 18 with his parents and siblings in 1832. He moved to Wheeling shortly after arriving, set up his bakery and married John’s mother, Elizabeth Eckhardt (b. 1823 in Prussia) there in 1840. His father was also a baker.

The first of his family to sign up, John enlisted on August 16, 1862, at age 19 in Battery D, 1st WV Light Artillery, US Army, all 106 members from the Wheeling area. The battery captain was John Carlin. Not long after his enlistment he was made sergeant, perhaps because he could read and write.

He kept careful diaries throughout his service until the end of the war. The family is fortunate enough to have his 5 war diaries, detailing his duties and life in the unit. His duties included caring for the pieces of artillery, the horses that pulled them, the harnesses, the caissons and wagons that carried ammunition, and leading drills. He was also responsible for the firing of one of the pieces of artillery in skirmishes. He often stepped in and handled duties for sick officers, foraging, locating supplies, distributing pay, and the like. They are uniformly lacking in personal reflections and stick strictly to facts; nevertheless, they are priceless treasures.

Some of the encounters he survived were the second battle of Winchester, the battle of Newmarket, Staunton, Piedmont, Hunter’s Raid on Lynchburg, Diamond Hill, Liberty, Buford’s Gap, Salem and he was at Petersburg. He mustered out on June 27, 1865. He was seemingly uninjured but his pension papers tell the true impact of the war on his body, such as an arm injury due to his artillery piece misfiring and other common complaints of soldiers such rheumatism, etc.

In September 1865 he completed a bookkeeping course in Wheeling and moved to Nebraska. By 1870 he was living in Dakota City, Nebraska and his occupation was clerk.

On October 19, 1871, he married his lifelong partner Elmira Mitchell in Dakota City, Nebraska. Together they had 3 sons, 3 daughters, and a set of twin girls, one of whom survived the birth.  He was a clerk, bookkeeper, and merchant to support the family.

John was quite active in his community. He served as City Marshall, Street Commissioner, City Clerk, and Mayor of Dakota City. He was also secretary of the Freemasons, vice president of the first Bible Society and the first baseball club in Dakota City. By 1880 when they had moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska, he served as Councilman and Mayor of Red Cloud, County Clerk and County Recorder of Webster County. He also joined the James A. Garfield Post 80 of the GAR in Red Cloud, Nebraska.

By 1889 he had moved to Colby, Kansas, where he joined the Charles O Rovohl Post 302 of the GAR. He was immediately chosen as quartermaster and held that position alternating with adjutant until he and the family moved to California in 1900. The family resided in Westminster, Riverside, and Monrovia for the remainder of their days.

On August 20, 1912, he traveled to Wheeling, West Virginia, for the 50th anniversary of the enlistment of Battery D and to pose for a photo with the remains of the artillery unit. He also attended the 46th GAR National Encampment in Los Angeles in 1912 as he had the badge from that event.

John died at the age of 79 on June 1, 1922, and was buried in Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside,



California. When his granddaughter discovered his marker simply had his name, birth and death years, she had the stone replaced with one that recognized his years of service to our country.


May 2015


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