Department of Michigan
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Don E. Hoch
Department Commander 1949-1950
Don Hoch signed his membership application on January 13, 1937 few
of the members of Austin Blair Camp No. 7, in Jackson, Michigan
could foresee what an important part he would have in coming years
in sustaining both Camp No. 7 and the Department of Michigan.
In 1937 most of the Camps of the SUVCW still had what we called
“True Sons” and in many parts of our state there were
still actives GAR Posts and many surviving members of the GAR. He
had known his Grandfather, Samuel E. Bailey, who enlisted in company
H, 15th Michigan Infantry on Christmas Eve, 1863, when he was 17
years old. He served through the end of the war and was mustered
out with his regiment on Aug 13, 1865. Don joined the SUVCW as the
grandson of Samuel Bailey. Soon after Don joined the SUVCW he became
active in many of the activities and held numerous offices within
In 1949 the Michigan Department bestowed the highest honor it could
on Brother Hoch by electing him Department Commander. At the time
of his death Don was the Senior Past Department Commander in Michigan.
Sixty nine years a faithful member of the SUVCW, more than sixty
years of leadership after having served as Department Commander.
World War II took its toll on members of the Michigan Camps of
the SUVCW almost as much as the passing of more and more members
of the GAR. It was during the next few years that Don’s dedication,
resourcefulness and leadership abilities began to be more evident.
Not only was the GAR beginning to rapidly decrease in numbers but
so were the “True Sons”! Just maintaining the membership
was a constant battle as more and more of our members donned a uniform
to answer our Country’s call. Don had been too young for WW
I and on the upper edge of those that Uncle Sam needed most during
WW II. However our leaders wanted Don to stay at home and keep the
railroads running, which he contributed to doing for more than 40
But Don didn’t just do his job at the rail yard! No doubt
in his youth he had heard that as the Civil War soldiers were traveling
to and from their homes the people along the way provided food and
other necessities for them . Trains had no “Dining Cars”
at that time and at many stops the town’s people were on hand
By WW II supplying troop trains with food had advanced considerably.
However, Don and others of the Allied Orders of Jackson staffed
and supplied coffee, cookies & etc., in our local station as
the men and women were traveling via railroad.
After WW II membership in many fraternal and social organizations
faltered. However Don had a number of family members in the local
Allied Orders and was able to rally them together and keep focused
on our real purpose…”keeping green the memory of the
Boys who wore the Blue.”
In 1947 the GAR disappeared from Michigan, now only a memory. And
various local entities of the Allied Orders were disappearing also.
In the early 1960’s there were less than a dozen Camps of
the SUVCW in Michigan.
From its beginning in 1882 our local Post No. 48, GAR, had been
given free use to facilities in the County Court House. Never did
they have to worry where they would meet or what the costs might
be. However, the day after our last member of the GAR died the Allied
Orders were ordered to vacate the room in just a few days.
For Don and his long time friend and co-member of Camp No. 7, Thayne
La Banta, fell the responsibility to remove all the furniture, records
and miscellaneous property from the facility. The GAR left the SUVCW
a great heritage… and a great challenge… “to keep
green their memory”.
Two men of our local Post left us some things to help fulfill those
responsibilities. One left us a complete set of the Records of the
Michigan Regiments in the Civil War, a.k.a., “The Brown Books”.
Don and Thayne saw to it that they were preserved and today we
enjoy the luxury of having one of the few complete sets in private
hands. These help us “keep green” their memory. Another
Comrade left each of the local Allied Orders shares of Consumer’s
Energy stock. Not much, but enough to help maintain the work to
Upon loosing their meeting place, under Don’s leadership
they formed a society and named it after the man whose action sustained
the Camp in the unforeseen future. The Schofield Society, was formed
by members of the SUVCW, DUVCW and the ASUVCW. They pooled the dividend
proceeds of their combined stock, obtained a mortgage and brought
an old church and it became their home. Used by all of the Allied
Orders, they continued on.
Locally membership grew for a few years but by the mid to late
1950’s it again began to dwindle. The ASUVCW, DUVCW and WRC
all closed their local groups. Don and Thayne, combining their dedication
and ingenuity again prevailed. They were able to keep Austin Blair
Camp No. 7, as an active Camp, thanks in a large part to the proceeds
of their two remaining shares of stock. It wasn’t until approximately
twenty years later that with the support of the Curtenius Guard
Camp No. 17, in Sunfield, that new members were encouraged to join
with Brothers LaBanta and Hoch and reactivate Camp No. 7.
Both Thayne and Don lived to see Camp No. 7 take on new life and
they saw the Auxiliary to Camp No. 7 once again become active. Until
the limitations of age overtook them they were again active in the
Camp. Quite possibly Don was the last member in Michigan’s
Department to have Comrades of the GAR attend their meetings. He
was Department Commander when the last Annual Encampment of the
Grand Army of the Republic was held. He was held in great esteem
by all who knew him, he will be missed.
(Taken from the Summer 2006 edition of Michigan's