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Tree dedicated in memory of Civil War hero

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

Members of Lancaster's Highway Department were on hand for a tree dedication ceremony on June 13. L-R James Gainer, Justin Bishop and Pete Roy. Back, L-R: Zac Grootenboer, Tim Brown and Art Dunn. (Photo by Tara Giles) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2019
LANCASTER — On June 13, a tree dedication ceremony was held in Lancaster. The story began during the fall of 2016, when Town Manager Ed Samson asked the town's Highway Department to undertake a major reclamation project in Colonel Cross Park. Shovels broke the hallowed ground on the site of the former Everett Homestead where Edward Ephraim Cross was born.

Cross, once a printer for this newspaper, was born on April 22, 1832. He was the son of Ephram and Abigail Everett. Cross attended the common school in town as well as the Lancaster Academy. At the age of 15, he began writing as a printer for the Cos County Democrat. As he began to spread his wings, he traveled to Cincinnati, where he worked as a printer for the Cincinnati Times. While there, he also had the title of Correspondent to Washington. In 1858 he headed to the southwest to Arizona where he invested in mines then established the newspaper, the Weekly Arizonian.

During the Civil War, he had the rank of colonel with the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. Historical reports say that fellow soldiers regarded him as one of the toughest officers they knew. During the Battle of Seven Pines, he is reported to have said, "Charge like Hell! Show them you are damn Yankees!" Cross also fought in the Battle of Antietam, Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Chancellorsville.

The Lancaster native passed away at the young age of 31 during the Battle of Gettysburg. On July 2, 1863, his division was sent in to the left flank to stabilize the situation. Cross was killed during the battle. It is said that he foresaw his own death, wearing a black bandanna around his head instead of his typical red. He wore the red so his men would be able to find him faster on the battlefield and referred to ambulances as death wagons.

Surviving family members donated the property to the town of Lancaster to repurpose as a memorial park. A monument to honor the legendary town hero still stands today and remains as a landmark for all to see.

As a result of the diligent efforts of the town's Highway Department, the park has been restored, reminiscent of the once thriving farm.

The Water Department exercised some civic responsibility by graciously donating a cherry tree to celebrate the 1905 Portsmouth Peace Treaty. The dedication is to commemorate the state's citizen diplomacy and goodwill between Japan and the United States.

Groundskeeper Jim Noland said, "The abilities of Town employees cannot be understated. On display is an enormous amount of pride in their workmanship. They remain always ready to meet every challenge in order to better serve the community. The North Country is a better place to live thanks to the efforts and teamwork of the Highway and Water Departments."

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Varney Smith
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