June 29, 2005

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Kimsey and other veterans leading a
parade on Butler Street about 1918

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Kimsey's Civil War

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William T. Kimsey age 90



William T. Kimsey, according to some sources, had visited and worked in the print shops of Michigan, and perhaps the Saugatuck area, as early as 1855. However, he was running a newspaper in Dekalb County, Indiana, when he and his brother John enlisted in the 44th Indiana Infantry on September 25, 1861, as musicians. William was the drummer of Co. K. After a rocky first year (he deserted in November of 1862, but returned to duty in April 1863 after President Lincoln declared amnesty for deserters who returned to their regiments) he was rapidly promoted to drum major, and then principal musician of the entire regiment.

After the war Kimsey moved to Saugatuck and worked in the print shops of the Douglas Weekly Record and the Saugatuck Commercial, as well as carrying on a commercial printing business. He had returned from the war with the drum that he had used at Chickamauga and other major battles and was much in demand to lead parades and play for memorial services. In 1930 he participated in an encampment of musicians at Chicago and was chosen to play the long roll on the radio. Kimsey died October 9, 1932, at Fort Wayne, where he had gone to attend a reunion of his old regiment.

He was a resident of Douglas and lived in the two story square home on Spring Street across Lawn Street from the first Red Barn Theatre. The structure was razed in the 1970s.          By Kit Lane

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