on July 15, 1841. He was the son of Alanson
Pratt and Martha Frost Hard. He was the third of
13 children and survived the entire family.
In 1949, at the Grand Army of the Republic's
final National Encampment, James Albert Hard
was the last living veteran of the Civil war in the
State of New York. At 109 1/2 years of age he
was both the oldest living Union veteran and the
oldest member of the Grand Army of the
Republic. Although blind, he served as both the
New York Department Commander and the Jr.
Vice Commander-in-Chief of the G.A.R.
In 1868 James A. Hard married his first wife
who died in 1880. They had one daughter who
died in 1948 at the age of 75. In 1884 he married
his second wife who died in 1929.
James Albert Hard, while still alive, had 3 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great grandchildren.
Mr. Hard began as a government railroad worker. Thereafter, he engaged in carpenter work for a time. Finally he became a notary and had a flourshing pension business continuing in the same
office for 38 years. As a young man he worked on farms. He had very little schooling.
He settled in Rochester in 1882 which has remaianed his permanent home. While very young he moved from his birthplace at Victor, NY to Broome County, Windsor, NY.
At President Lincoln's first call for volunteers he enlisted at Dryden, NY on April 18, 1861. He
served in the regular Army for 2 years and thereafter engaged in government railraod work until
the close of the War. James A. Hard served in Co. E, 32nd NY Volunteers.
He met President Lincoln twice. Their first meeting was at a White House reception at the
outbreak of the war just after his enlistment - before he had been issued a uniform. As he
approached Lincoln the President shook his and and said, "Well, son, you look like you would
make a good soldier, why don't you join up?" His second meeting with Lincoln was at
Bailey's Cross Roads when Lincoln was inspecting troops, at which time he again shook hands
with the President. He also once shook hands with General Grant.
During the Battle of While House Landing, on the York River, his Commanding Officer, Capt.
LC Grown was killed besides him. He took part in the battle of Fairfax Court House,
Blackburn's Ford, Bull Run, Munson's Hill, Bailey's Cross Roads, 2nd Munson's Hill, and
Annandale - all in Virginia in 1861. In 1862 he fought in the battles of West Point, The Seven
Day's battle of Virginia, Gaines Mill, Garnet's and Goldings Farm, Glendale, Malvern Hill,
Crampton's Pass - again, all in Virginia, as well as Antietam, Maryland. In 1863 he took part in
the battles of Fredericksburg, Franklin's Crossing, Mary's Heights and Salem Church -once again, all in Virginia. Hard served through the war as a Private.
One of Mr. Hard's maternal uncles served in the Revolutionary War. In WWII he had a
Grandson, Earl H. Osborn, stationed at Aberdeen, Md., a Great-Grandson, James P. Eksten,
with a medical detachment of the 133rd Inf. in Africa and Italy, and another a Great-Grandson, Donald R. Nelan, with the Air Corps over Germany.
James A. Hard attended the last encampment of the NY Department, GAR, in 1948 and of the
national organization in 1949. He was the only veteran at the State Encampment and only 1 of 6
at the last National.
He was Commander-in-Chief of either the Union Veterans Union or Union Veterans Legion.
When he died on March 12, 1953 he was given the City of Rochester's version of a State funeral.
Thousands lined the streets of Rochster to say good-bye. The City Hall bell tolled 13 times. It
was the first time since V-J Day that the bell had sounded. He was laid to rest in Mt. Hope
Cemetery next to his second wife, Anna, who died in 1929.