Conversation Club learns about Gilbert Van Zandt


Fifteen members of Conversation Club met recently at Cape May Living campus on a sunny day. President Judy Sargent opened the meeting with a humorous reading. Sharon Breckel was thanked for serving as hostess. Roll call was taken with members answering with a quote or stating what had been their favorite Mother’s Day gift..

The program for the day was presented by Suzanne Madison on Gilbert Van Zandt- Little Gib from Port William, Ohio. Her research was mainly from a Xenia newspaper article in 1938 by Van Zandt himself. The article had also been shared with the Wilmington News Journal. Port William, Ohio is the birthplace of Gilbert Van Zandt, quite possibly the youngest enlistee in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was born on Dec. 20, 1851. Little Gib joined the ranks of Company D, 79th Ohio Volunteer infantry at the age 10 years, seven months and 16 days. Barely four feet tall tall, Van Zandt served initially as the company’s drummer boy, and later as a courier for the regiment.

Distinguished for his bravery under fire, young Gilbert saw action in the battles for Atlanta, Sherman’s Campaign, March to the sea and the Carolina Campaign. He was discharged from service on June 9,1865, already a seasoned veteran at 13. Van Zandt died in Kansas City, Missouri on Oct. 4, 1944 at the age of 92.

In 1999, the Ohio Bicentennial Commission erected a historical marker honoring Gilbert Van Zandt in Port William, Ohio. It was sponsored by The Longaberger Company, Port William Dam Days Committee and the Ohio Historical Society (marker number 3-14).

The next meeting for Conversation Club will be at Cape May on May 23. The hostess will be Becky Strafford and the program will be presented by Vicki Wilson.

A 125th Anniversary Celebration luncheon will be held on June 23.

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