Community members in Stryker will be honoring a famous native son on the 100th anniversary of his death, complete with presentations by a Civil War expert from Georgia and the dedication of a new flagpole at his gravesite.
A day-long commemoration is being planned by members of the Stryker Area Heritage Council on Saturday, September 24 in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the death of Stryker’s Civil War hero and Medal of Honor recipient William J. Knight.
One of the highlights of the day will be two presentations by Jonathan Scott, curator of the museum in Kennesaw, Georgia that presently houses the train Knight engineered during the daring mission known to many as “Andrews Raid” or as “The Great Locomotive Chase.”
In his first talk set to begin after some introductory remarks at 9:00 a.m., Mr. Scott, curator of the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, will be telling how Knight, along with a group of other Union soldier volunteers, went behind enemy lines during the Civil War and stole the Confederate train at Big Shanty, Georgia.
Knight was the engineer on the locomotive General that sped away from its unsuspecting Confederate guards. The mission received wide attention during the day, inspired many in the Union cause and was later adapted into at least two movies.
Of interest to many will be photos of the physical remains of the significant locations involved in the famous story.
In his second presentation planned to start about 2:30 p.m., Mr. Scott will focus directly on the locomotive, the General, that is housed at the Georgia museum and will include an interesting look at photos of items in the museum that relate to the raid.
Mr. Scott’s presentations are slated to be held at the Stryker American Legion Post, 110 North Defiance Street in downtown Stryker.
Community members and civil war enthusiasts are also expected to join together at 1:00 p.m. for a ceremony to honor Knight at his gravesite in the Oakwood Cemetery on Chase Street south of West Curtis Street in Stryker. Civil War historian Don Allison will speak about William Knight’s post war life. The commemoration will conclude with the dedication of a new flagpole in memory of the Medal of Honor recipient. Those who come may want to bring their own lawn chair.
Members of the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Civil War will hold a drill at 12:30 p.m. before the commemoration at the cemetery. Those in attendance will be able to get a glimpse of what it was like for soldiers during the Civil War.
The activities of the day will conclude with a showing of the 1956 movie “The Great Locomotive Chase” at the legion hall at about 3:30 p.m. following Mr. Scott’s second presentation.
The Stryker American Legion post will be hosting a breakfast from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. at the legion post and the Stryker Fire Department is planning a luncheon beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the fire department on South Depot Street.
The Stryker Area Heritage Council will have their museum open during the day. Those attending will be able to visit the historical displays including a handmade replica of the General at the Stryker Area Heritage Center at the former railroad depot in Stryker at 205 North Depot Street after Mr. Scott’s presentations and the gravesite ceremony.
SAHC President Terry Wieland said, “Placing the new flagpole at the gravesite of William Knight and hosting a day of presentations are important ways we can salute a hero from Stryker on the 100th anniversary of his death. It also keeps the memory of what he did and his contribution to one of the important events during the Civil War alive to us all today.”
There is no charge to attend the events of the day except for the breakfast and lunch which is open to the public, and the members of the Stryker Area Heritage Council invite anyone who would like to join the commemoration to come.
The council is having a special coin struck commemorating Mr. Knight that will be available for sale that day, along with commemorative ribbons, and other memorabilia.
The times for events may need to be adjusted slightly to accommodate the activities for the day.
Anyone with questions about the upcoming commemoration is asked to contact SAHC President Terry Wieland at 419-902-8551.