John Greene Chisum (1848–1951)

John Chisum was one of the last thirty surviving Civil War veterans, the last surviving Arkansas-born Confederate veteran, and the next to last surviving Confederate veteran to die in Arkansas. He was outlived in Arkansas only by Jonesboro (Craighead County) resident William M. Loudermilk, who died in 1952 (like Chisum, beyond his hundredth birthday).

John Green Chisum was born in Calico Rock (Izard County) on February 19, 1848, to Bill and Mary Chisum. Little is known of his years growing up on the family farm. During the early years of the Civil War, the family was isolated in the Ozarks, but at age sixteen in 1864, Chisum made a trip to Newport (Jackson County) and enlisted in a unit under the command of General Sterling Price. He could not recall the regiment in which he served, only that it was Company G. Surviving official documents shed little light on his regiment, again only recording his service in Company G. Chisum served during the 1864 Red River Campaign in Arkansas and also on Price’s failed Missouri raid.

After the war, he returned to his family in Izard County. His early adult years are difficult to document. It appears that he spent most of his life on the farm and raising livestock. By the late 1880s, he had married Nancy Morris. The couple had nine children before her death in 1907. He married Sarah Goswick on October 17, 1908, in Danville (Yell County). The couple had two children, with the second being born in 1912.

By the late 1930s or early 1940s, John and Sarah Chisum were living near Ben Hur (Newton County) in a house located on property once occupied by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp Victor 1706.

In his later years, Chisum, as a member of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), was an active participant in veteran activities. He regularly attended local reunions and, in 1938, was one of fifty-one Arkansas Civil War veterans who attended the reunion commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

He was living in the house in Ben Hur when he died on June 11, 1951, at age 103. Chisum is buried in the Boyd Cemetery in Pope County, as are both of his wives. His grave is marked by a traditional stone and a military marker commemorating his Confederate service. Upon Chisum’s death, the only Confederate veteran to remain alive in Arkansas was William Loudermilk.

For additional information:
Hoar, Jay S. The South’s Last Boys in Gray. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1986.

“John Greene Chisum.” Find-a-Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7358098/john-greene-chisum (accessed November 20, 2020).

Mike Polston
CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Last Updated: 11/20/2020

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