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Dept Michigan
Robert Finch Camp No. 14
Traverse City, Michigan


SUVCW ArmsCorrespondence:

Commander George Goodrich


JVC Joe Conger
(231) 929-7142


Commander: George Goodrich
Junior Vice Commander: Joe Conger
Secretary: Tom Jenkins
Signals Officer: Bill Skillman

NEW! - "Although having 501(c) (4) Tax Exempt Status. “Donations to the Department of Michigan - Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, its Camps, or Sons of Veterans Reserve Units operating within the Department of Michigan, Are Not Tax Deductible.”

About the Robert Finch Camp No. 14

There were three Robert Finches. Camp Historian George Goodrich has done some very thorough and considerable research on who is the "real Robert Finch" that our Camp was named after. There now can be no doubt that the real Robert Finch is Sgt. Robert Finch of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters. He was a charter member of Weathermax Post 75 of Grand Haven, listed second on the roster when the Post was formed in 1885. He was a sergeant and was discharged due to wounds. He transferred to Custer Post 5 in Grand Rapids and is reported on the Muster record of December 1903. His death was reported by the Post on February 10, 1924. Our newest member, Robert Clark is the great, great grandson of Robert Finch.


We are proud to be the oldest, active Camp in the Department of Michigan -dating from March 26, 1914.

Camp No. 14 originally was based in Grand Rapids until it petitioned to relocate to Traverse City, a convenient location for members and potential members in the area. John LaRue was the first Commander in that location.

Until April 14, 1997, the Camp could boast of one of the oldest and one of the youngest members of SUVCW. This claim ended on that date with the death of Lowell Herbert Orebaugh who at age 95 was a "Real Son."

Camp Meeting Information

2012 Meeting Schedule

Meeting Date and Activity

January 14th             Installation of Officers and Staff
                                    Guest: Dept. of Michigan Commander Don Shaw

March 3rd                  Guest speaker: Frank Slaughter,
                                    Author of  Echoes of Distant Thunder

March 31st               Department of Michigan Encampment
                                    Great Lakes Christian College-Lansing, MI

May 12th                   Guest speaker: TBA

August 9-11             National Encampment
                                    Los Angles, CA

September 8th         Guest speaker: TBA

October 5th              Robert Finch Camp 14 Banquet
                                    Traverse City St. Francis Church-Family Center

November 10th       Election of Officers

Camp 14 Brothers participate in National observances: Memorial Day, Independence Day, MIA-POW day, Veterans Day.

All Camp meetings are held at the Elks Lodge, located at 625 Bay Street (at the junction of Grandview Parkway and Division) in Traverse City.

We begin to arrive around 11:30 A.M. Business meeting follows lunch and usually begins around 12:45 P.M. and adjourns at about 2:00 P.M.

Our ladies auxiliary, Francis Finch No. 9, begin their Meeting at 11:00 a.m. and join us for our luncheon

Camp Activities


By the end of the year, our roster had increased by one new associate; however we suffered the loss of past camp commander Clint Kennard. Brother Clint passed away on December 10th. He was our oldest member at 96 years, and our longest in time of service at 31 years. Clint was one of the 8 members who had moved from grand rapids to traverse city in 1988. This leaves brother Clarence Rabach at age 93 and 30 years of service as our only member left from that group.

The year was highlighted by 4 civil war gravestone dedications. The first was on may 31st for Alfonso Brooks in Brooks Cemetery in Emmet County. The cemetery had been abandoned, but was discovered by the Emmet County Genealogy Society who requested this ceremony. On June 21st, we did two gravestone dedications for our auxiliary member Jane Prebble. The first was for her great, great grandfather George Hayner in sunset cemetery in East Jordan, and then in the afternoon, we did one for other great, great grandfather Newton Balch in Brookside Cemetery in Charlevoix. Many family descendents were present at both of these ceremonies.

On October 17th, we dedicated the gravestone of John P. Sinclair in Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City. Sinclair was a Sergeant in Battery C of the 1st Michigan Light Artillery. This unit is remembered by reenactors from Battle Creek known as Robinson’s Battery. They had discovered Sinclair’s unmarked grave site and placed a gravestone there. This ceremony was conducted with the Robinson’s Battery and their cannon was used in the three gun salute. Under the direction of grave registration officers Tom Jenkins and Jim Slis, much work was accomplished in this area.

As usual, our camp was represented in several communities for Memorial Day ceremonies, and we also participated in Flag Day services, POW/MIA services, and veteran day ceremonies as well as the Grand Rraverse Heritage Days. Our camp also attended the Charlevoix County Genealogy Society Research & Open House. We had 7 delegates and 3 past camp commanders attend the Department Encampment where we were very proud to accept the Abraham Lincoln Certificate of Appreciation that was awarded posthumously to civil war memorial officer Fred Knoodle. We framed this award and presented it to Fred’s wife and family at our September camp meeting. Senior vice Commander Dale Aurand represented us at the National Encampment in Louisville, Kentucky. We also mended our by laws to comply with the national and department in including associate juniors.



On October 4, 2008, CAMP NO 14 conducted the SUVCW Dedication Ceremony at the Grave Site in Lakeview Cemetery in Harbor Springs, for Brother Fred Knoodle, who had served the Camp as our Civil War Memorials Officer for eight years.  Fred had also served for several years on the Department’s C.W. Memorials Committee as well as serving on the Department’s G.A.R. Records Committee. Fred was the custodian of the Petoskey Confederate Cannon from 2002 until he helped transport it to Karkadoulias Bronze Art in Cincinnati in June of 2007.  Fred did much of the research on this cannon and was a prime mover in its restoration and dedication on June 21, 2008.  Fred was killed when he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle.  Fred had logged over 92,000 miles on his bike. Around 75 family members and friends attended the Ceremony.  A luncheon was held At the First Presbyterian Church. Six Brothers from Camp 14 had served as Pall Bearers at Fred’s funeral on August 25, 2008 (Memorial Page)

The Robert Finch Camp No. 14 completed  Two Major projects in 2008..

On August 23, 2008, Camp 14  dedicated and presented to Grand Traverse County two bronze plaques placed on a 10,000 pound Chilton Stone.  The stone sits between the “Old Soldier’s” Monument and the 6.4 inch 100 Pounder Parrot Rifled Naval Cannon that had served on the U.S.S. Sabine during the Civil War.  August 23rd was the 150th anniversary of the commissioning of the U.S.S. Sabine.  PCC Neal Breaugh served as Master of Ceremonies for the Dedication Ceremony.  Before the Dedication, President Marian Solem of the Frances Finch Auxiliary No. 9 placed a beautiful floral arrangement at the base of the plaques. PCC Bill Skillman spoke on the history of the “Old Soldier’s” Monument. Department Civil War Memorials Officer Doug Armstrong from Camp No.58 in DeWitt spoke on the history of this Naval Cannon.  Camp Barb Jim Ribby delivered three short poems for the occasion.  The Dedication Team consisted of Dave Kaplan, Commander; Don Gray, Chaplain; Jim Ribby, Officer of the Guard; Alan Werdehoff as Guard of the Plaques; the VFW Cherryland Post 2780 served as the Honor Guard and Rifle Salute Squad; taps was played by Ben and Dan Sattler.  After the Dedication, Camp Commander Robert Clark presented the Stone and Plaques to Grand Traverse County Commission President Sonny Wheelock who accepted the gift.

The other significant event of 2008 occurred on June 21, 2008. During the Petoskey Historical Days Festival, the Camp dedicated the restored Petoskey Confederate Cannon in Arlington Park, Petoskey, Michigan. Along with the Cannon and the replica Civil War NO. 2 field artillery gun carriage, the Camp also dedicated a 30X36 bronze plaque describing what is known about the history of this cannon. Before the Dedication Ceremony, the Camp had the City of Petoskey move the G.A.R. bronze plaque on a stone to a spot near our restored cannon and plaque.  The G.A.R. plaque had been donated and dedicated by the Petoskey Women’s Relief Corp in1927. At our ceremony, the current National President of the Women’s Relief Corps. Marcia Butgereit, who is also a member of Camp 14’s Frances Finch Auxiliary No. 9, spoke at the ceremony.  Also present at the Ceremony was Commander Al Cutshall of the John Petterson Ray Camp No. 2119 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Berkley, Michigan.  Commander Cutshall with his Colors joined our Color Guard.  Camp 14 Civil War Memorials Officer Fred Knoodle spoke on the History of the Cannon. Camp Barb Jim Ribby delivered an appropriate poem. PCC Neal Breaugh served as Master of Ceremonies.  Our Conservator Mercene Karkadoulias of Karkadoulias Bronze Art was Present with her daughters and grandchildren.  Marian Solem, Marcia Butgereit, Emily Breaugh and Mary Rose of our Auxiliary NO. 9 unveiled the Cannon before the Dedication Ceremony.  The Dedication Team consisted of Dave Kaplan, Commander: Don Gray, Chaplain; Jim Ribby, Officer of the Guard; George Goodrich, Guard at the Cannon; The Petoskey Marine Corps League  served as Honor Guard and Rifle Salute and also provided Taps.  Camp 14 Commander Bob Clark then presented the Cannon and Plaque to the City of Petoskey.  Petoskey Mayor Dale Meyer accepted the Cannon with some appropriate remarks.  Ken Stanley, President of the Petoskey Historical Society also spoke.  Subsequently, a 4 X 6 inch caste aluminum plaque was added to the Cannon in Honor of our Civil War Memorials Officer Fred Knoodle who was killed on August 21, 2008 when he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle. The Camp had begun raising funds for this project in late 2005 and succeeded in raising close to 26,000.00 for the restoration of this one of a kind partially destroyed (12 inches of muzzle was blown away) Confederate “substitute iron Napoleon” that had been cast at a foundry in Augusta, Georgia in 1864. In the Spring of 1996 Emmet County Department of Public Works were installing new sewer lines behind Stafford’s Perry Hotel when they unearthed a heavy dirt-encrusted object, that they initially thought was a piece of broken sewer pipe.  However, after removing the object from the trench and brushing away the accumulated mud, they discovered they had unearthed a cannon.  The cannon was transported to the County garage and dumped out back.  In July, 2002, CWMO Fred Knoodle, while searching for a different cannon missing from a Petoskey Park, was asked by the DPW head if our Camp was interested in taking this cannon off its hands before it was destroyed.  We accepted and the DPW then transported the cannon to Fred’s pole barn.  It was afterwards, when attempting to clean the cannon up that Brother Fred discovered its historic significance. Despite much research, we still have not been able to clearly discover just how this Confederate Cannon got to Petoskey and was buried near Stafford’s Perry Hotel. In the meantime, after raising $ 86,000.00 for the restoration of the “Old Soldier’s Monument in Traverse City, and dedicating that Monument on May 30, 2005, we contracted with Mercene Karkadoulias of Karkadoulias Bronze Art(whose Firm restored the Grand Traverse County Civil War Soldier Statue) to work her magic on the damaged Confederate Cannon.  Mercene proposed to replace the missing 12 inches of muzzle and mount it on an aluminum
reproduction Civil War field carriage. We planned to then return it to the City of Petoskey and place it in Arlington Park, which is right across the street from Stafford’s Perry Hotel where it was found in 1996.  Arlington Park already has a G.A.R. Marker-a large boulder with bronze tablet that reads: “1861-1865 G.A.R.  to the honor and memory of LOMBARD POST NO 170 by Lombard W.R.C. No. 152  June 14, 1927”.  This park is the very ground where the G.A.R. reunions and encampments were held over a century ago.  In June of 2007, Camp 14 Commander Bob Clark, and CWMO Fred Knoodle transported the damaged Confederate Cannon to Mercene Karkadoulias in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It was returned restored and dedicated on June 21, 2008.

Robert Finch Camp No. 14 began working on these two projects in 2003. During that time they raised $ 86,000.00 for the Traverse City Monument Restoration, $ 26,000.00 for the Petoskey Confederate Cannon Restoration, and $ 8,000.00 for the Two Plaques in Traverse City for a total of $ 120,000.00.  By December, 2008, everything was completely paid for, the final thank you letters with pictures had been mailed out, and the checking account for these projects was closed.


On June 11, 2007, accepted the transfer of Brother Andrew Hopkinson of London,
England into Camp 14.  Andrew’s Civil War Ancestor George Poskitt served with
Company F of the 4th Michigan Infantry from June 20, 1861 to September 26, 1861 when he was discharged due to organic disease of the heart. He reenlisted on December 16, 1863 and served with the heavy artillery regiment of the 6th Michigan Company K until discharged on February 28, 1865.  George Poskitt died in 1928 and is buried next to his wife in Oak Grove Cemetery in Manistee, Michigan. George’s younger brother, Frederick Poskitt, enlisted at the age of 16(saying he was 18), and served with Vosper’s Sharpshooters Of the 27th Regiment Infantry. He fought at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. He was taken prisoner before Petersburg and died in a prison camp. Brother Hopkinson visited Camp 14 in 2008 and was our guest speaker at our May 10, 2008 Camp Meeting.

On September 16th several Members of of Camp 14 attended a ceremony in Mancelona conducted by the American Legion Post 264 to honor PFC George E, Puckett, who was killed in action in France on November 9, 1918. Following that ceremony the Camp conducted the SUVCW rededication ceremony for the gravestone rededication ceremony for Mancelona Civil War Veterans Samuel Lesher and Rosewell W. Donaldson. Over 100 people including several members of the Lesher and Donaldson families attended this ceremony. Camp 14 was also honored to have in attendance DC Rick Greene, DSVC Robert Grove, DS Dennis Deer, and PDC Bruce Butgereit. Also at this event, Camp 14 Commander Bill Skillman presented Mancelona resident and WW 11 Veteran George Ouvry with an Honorary Membership in Camp 14 for the tremendous research he has been doing on not only Civil War Veterans but the Veterans of all wars in the Antrim County area. DC Rick Greene also presented Mr. Ouvry with a Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Michigan.


On July 30, 2006, seven Members of Camp No. 14 along with the Francis Finch Auxiliary No. 9 president, crossed Lake Michigan by Ferry Boat to South Manitou Island to join with the S. Manitou Historical Society in their annual ceremonies and to conduct the SUVCW rededication ceremony for the gravestone of Corporal Aaron Sheridan, his wife Julia, and young son Robert. After representing New York in the Civil War, Sheridan became the light house keeper on S. Manitou Island from 1866 to 1878 when he, his wife and son were lost in a storm returning from the mainland. Over 100 people attended these ceremonies including ten descendants of Corporal Sheridan.


On Memorial Day, May 30, 2005, Camp No 14 rededicated the Traverse City Civil War Monument on its 115th anniversary Close to 1,000 patriots attended this gala event on this beautiful sunny day. All of the areas Veterans Groups were part of the Color Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard presented the Flag as a Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead. Senator Carl Levin gave the keynote address. Also represented were Senator Debbie Stabenow, State Senator Jason Allen, State Representative Howard Walker, County Commissioner President Wayne Schmidt(all served on Our Fund Raising Committee), Traverse City Mayor Lynda Smyka, National JVC-in-C, the Honorable James Pahl, DSVC Robert Grove along with a few other Department Members. The Northwinds Brass Band and the TC Christian Choir provided ample entertainment. After the Rededication, our Francis Finch Auxiliary No. 9 hosted a wonderful reception in The Grand Traverse County Building.

On August 31, 2005, Camp No 14 presented the County Commissioners with:

  • A check for $ 10,000 for a permanent Maintenance Fund for the Monument
  • A one of a kind casting of one of the Monument’s panels, enclosed in a Beautiful wooden frame with a gold plaque—to be hung in the Old County Court House near the Monument.

The Camp also requested permission to place an appropriate Plaque at the T.C. Cannon near the Monument that would give background information on the Cannon. The Grand Traverse County Commissioners granted that request, officially dismissed the Monument Restoration Committee with thanks and presented Robert Finch Camp No. 14 with a beautiful Plaque that represented their “2005 AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE”

On September 20,2005 an 18x14 inch cast aluminum plaque was placed at the foot of the Monument giving the date of the Rededication and thanking the students, citizens, businesses and organization of the Grand Traverse Region and naming six organization who made contributions of over $ 5,000 to this project—including the Robert Finch Camp No. 14

The other project that is almost completed is the plaque to be place at the TC Cannon on the Courthouse lawn next to the Civil War Monument. With the help of Department Civil War Memorials Officer Doug Armstrong and through the extensive research of Camp Commander Bill Skillman, we have discovered that our Cannon served on the USS Sabine during the Civil War and is the only one that survives from that ship. It was cast in 1862 at the West Point Foundry. We have pictures of the USS Sabine including one with its crew around our TC Cannon. We hope to present this Plaque to Grand Traverse County this Spring or Summer. the last $1,180.00 of our Monument Fund Raising will be used to pay for this Plaque.


On July 24, 2004, at the Camp’s annual Picnic Meeting, National Auxiliary SUVCW President Danielle Michaels re-chartered the Frances Finch Auxiliary No. 9 with Rank from August 9, 2003. This Auxiliary was originally chartered in Grand Rapids on January 28, 1925. Officers installed that day were Marge Pifer, President; Marian Solem, VP; Mary Rose, Sec/Treas; Mary Lautner, Chaplain; and Alice Barr, Patriotic Instructor. Also in attendance for this grand event were National Commander-in-Chief Kent Armstrong and SC-in-C Steve Michaels.

On March 26, 2004, Camp No. 14 celebrated its 90th Anniversary with a gala dinner party at the Elks Lodge in Traverse City. Historical records and relics were put on display and community leaders were in attendance to honor the Camp.


On May 11, 2002, Camp No. 14 was honored to participate in the headstone dedication for Pvt. Wait Wright. Visit our memorial page to see some pictures of the ceremony.


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  Last updated on February 19, 2012 8:46 AM - webmaster