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Dunkirk Post 62:

June 15, 2008
Rosamond Gillespie Burns and Mary Burns Deas
Their World War II members may be thinning out, but the veterans of Post 62 marched proudly in the Memorial Day parade. They are a part of the three million members of the American Legion which was formed in 1919 by veterans returning from Europe after World War I.

Dunkirk Memorial Post No. 62 was organized in June 1919 with Gerald Frey as the first commander. The post prospered during this year and functioned until 1920, when it became inactive for a time. However, in late 1920 through the efforts of Harvey Stegman, A.W. Cummings Jr., and Norval Salisbury, the post was reorganized and elected Dr. Walter Vosburg as commander on Jan. 13, 1921. Dr. Edgar Biebar was commander in 1923, W. Harvey Stegman in 1924, A. C. Eaker in 1925, Fred Rosing in 1926 and A. W. Cummings in 1927. It was at this time that the legion sponsored and organized the Boy Scouts Troop No. 4, the oldest sponsored troop in Chautauqua County.

Gilbert C. Momeyer was commander in 1928. During Momeyer’s term of office, the flag pole and memorial to the World War veterans from Dunkirk was erected at Lakeside Park. Herbert Henning, the youngest ever elected as commander, served from 1929 to 1930. It was during his term and Matt Zawadski’s term in 1931 and 1932 at the post attained its highest membership. Other commanders were Carl Stein in 1933 and Reuel O. Proper in the years 1934 and 1935.

In 1934, the post quarters were moved from the Heyl Building, where they had been since 1921, to the third floor of the Candyland Building.

It was in 1923-24 that the building fund was started by the post. From a modest beginning, this fund grew to several thousand dollars. Alfred Reynolds and Marion Frey were co-chairmen to investigate sites or buildings that were available. The Sullivan property at 211-213 Central Ave. were purchased and renovated.

“The new legion home in Dunkirk will provide us the proper headquarters and background to go out and accomplish the national program of the American Legion. It will provide the Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of the Legion, the Drum & Bugle Corps, and the Boy Scout Troop, the proper facilities for their work in Dunkirk and northern Chautauqua,” said Norval Salisbury in his Short History of the American Legion in Dunkirk Memorial Post Armistice Night Ball, which became “the” social event of the year.

Next week we will continue Post 62’s interesting history. We ask that other Chautauqua County legions’ histories be in future columns. Please contact us with this information.

Article Photos

Photo from J.A. Chewning’s book: “Dunkirk, N.Y., It’s Architecture and Urban Development.”
American Legion Post 62, as it appeared in 1975. In 1980, the upper two stories were demolished and the first-story facade was rebuilt in white brick.

 
 

 

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