In the News

Last Civil War Soldier Buried in Otter Tail County to be Honored October 9, 2021

WDAY News | September 23, 2021

James Allison “Cap” Colehour, the last Civil War veteran buried in Otter Tail County, will be honored in a ceremony Saturday, October 9, 2021 at Lakewood Cemetery in Battle Lake, Minnesota.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is conducting the ceremony with the assistance of Jay Johnson, the great-grandson of James Colehour, the Prospect House and Civil War Museum of Battle Lake, members of the Battle Lake American Legion Post 289, and Civil War reenactors from the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry.

James “Cap” Colehour was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1842. His family relocated to Mount Carroll, Illinois, where Colehour enlisted in Company I of the 92nd Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry on September 4, 1862. The unit became a special forces unit of mounted infantry under Colonel John Wilder, and after helping to secure the Union victory by an aggressive and surprise advance at the Battle of Hoover’s Gap in Tennessee (June 24, 1863), earned the name Wilder’s Lightning Brigade. The unit also had the distinction of carrying the new Spencer repeating rifle. Colehour was wounded in the right shoulder at Chickamauga on September 19, 1863. After rejoining his company in January 1864 he was wounded in the left shoulder at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. After four months of recovery he rejoined his regiment again and served until his honorable discharge on June 21, 1865. After 14 years working for the Postal Service in Chicago, Colehour moved to Battle Lake, Otter Tail County, Minnesota in 1882. Colehour purchased the land and built and operated The Prospect Inn, a hotel in Battle Lake that today is the Prospect House & Civil War Museum.

Colehour was active in the Everts G.A.R. Post #138. He was the last surviving Civil War veteran in Otter Tail County and the last survivor of his regiment. He died on December 25, 1938 in Battle Lake. More information on Cap Colehour can be found on the webpage for the Prospect House & Civil War Museum,

The Last Soldier ceremony will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 9, 2021 at Colehour’s grave at Lakewood Cemetery, Battle Lake, Minnesota. ( The ceremony is open to the public and any of Colehour’s descendants in the Battle Lake or Otter Tail County area are most cordially invited to attend.

William Colvill Camp #56, Department of Wisconsin, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) will be presiding over the ceremony. The Battle Lake American Legion will be firing a three-volley salute over Colehour’s grave. Cannon firing is also planned. The ceremony will feature the Last Soldier dedication ritual of the SUVCW and includes the placing of a Last Soldier Marker on the veteran’s grave.

Camp #56 of the Department of Wisconsin, whose territory is the entire state of Minnesota, is engaged in the Last Solider Project, which has the goal of identifying and placing a marker on the grave of the last Union veteran buried in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties. The members of Camp #56 consider the Last Soldier ceremony an honor and a fitting tribute for a Union soldier whose service helped preserve the liberties Americans enjoy as a nation today.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is a national veterans organization made up of the descendants of Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War. The SUVCW has more than 6,000 members across the country and is the successor to the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R), the veterans organization formed after the Civil War by soldiers who served in the Union Army. The last member of the G.A.R. died in 1956.

Story of Battle Lake Civil War veteran centerpiece of local Civil War museum

Kevin Wallevand, WDAY | Sep. 21, 2021

BATTLE LAKE, Minn. — A concert in Battle Lake on Friday, Sept. 24, and a separate Civil War reenactment ceremony in two weeks will help fund a collection of Civil War treasures preserved by one Battle Lake family.

Just off Battle Lake’s Main Street is the Prospect House and Civil War Museum where, back in the day, the wealthy would come and stay for $7 a week for the summer. Built in 1886, it looks just like it did a century ago.

Those who visit the museum also come to listen to museum founder Jay Johnson talk about his great-grandfather, Civil War veteran James “Cap” Colehour.

“He enlisted in the summer of 1862 in the 92nd Illinois volunteers,” Johnson said. “They were part of the Lightning Brigade, the first rapid assault force in the US military.”

Colehour volunteered to fight in the Civil War. He was 20 years old.

“My great-grandfather right there, holding that flag, has his company flag that his sister sewed,” Johnson said, referring to a picture of Colehour holding the flag that now sits under glass in the museum. “That flag right there, she made that in 1862.”

He would be the last surviving Civil War veteran in Otter Tail County when he died in 1938.

“He got his horse and racing saddle designed by Gen. George B. McClellan,” Johnson said.

His great-grandson now maintains the impressive Civil War museum in honor of his great-grandfather.

“When he recovered from being shot in the right shoulder, he was shot in his left shoulder in Muscle Shoals, Alabama,” Johnson said, pointing to a map.

In Battle Lake, history comes with a side of entertainment
MPR News | April 24, 2019

A taste of history: Museum samples art, hors d’oeuvres
The Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, MN April 5, 2018

Relative finds treasure trove from Civil War
KBFR radio, Fergus, Falls, MN, June 28, 2017

Museum launches Civil War Education Program
The Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, MN, May 30, 2017