Author visits Houlton Rotarians

12 years ago

    HOULTON — Houlton Rotary’s guest speaker for Sept. 17 was Dr. Jack Stokes Ballard, Ph.D., who spoke to the group about an Aroostook County native, but not just any native, the only Medal of Honor recipient from Aroostook County. He wrote the book “Commander and Builder of Western Forts: The Life and Times of Major General Henry C. Merriam, 1862-1901.”
    Merriam grew up in Houlton, two miles up on the North Road. His parent were Lewis and Mary (Foss) Merriam. He attended Colby College in Waterville, but left school in 1862 to join the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and was elected as a captain.
Contributed photo/Michael Clark
BU-CLR-Rotary speaker-dcx-pt-39ROTARY GUEST — The Houlton Rotary Club welcomed Dr. Jack Ballard, second from left, and his son Don, third from left, to their Sept. 17 meeting. Dr. Ballard was in the Shiretown for a pair of book signings. Joining the Ballards are Leigh Cummings, far left, and Rotary President Ryan Bushey.

    Henry had many skills and character such as he was good with farm tools, expert horseman, very self disciplined, he enjoyed playing the violin. He was an excellent writer and speaker, many of his letters helped form the book. He found himself commander of African American Troops, which had to be interesting due to growing up in rural Maine. He may not have had much previous contact, never mind the fact that he was going from here to New Orleans. What a culture change.
    He embraced each step in his Military Career. He played a role in aspects of the American-Civil War and beyond. For example the Indian War, Spanish American War and the Philippine-American War. The most prominent one being when he earned the Medal of Honor for his actions as a Union officer in commanding his troops at the Battle of Antietam. 
    His official Medal of Honor citation reads: “Volunteered to attack the enemy’s works in advance of orders and, upon permission being given, made a most gallant assault.” He retired Nov. 12, 1901, and settled in Portland. Dr. Ballard gave many more interesting facts about Merriam.
    Dr. Ballard also visited the Cary Library while he was in town.