Civil War veteran to be honored

Even though Jess Hildebrand wasn’t born in Washington County, he took part in building the foundation of what its residents know today.

Hildebrand will be honored for his contributions on Saturday with the dedication of a historical marker in Marietta.

Bill Reynolds, member of the Civil War Roundtable of the Mid-Ohio Valley, found out about Hildebrand’s life through multiple sources like General Sherman’s memoirs and multiple war records. He learned that after moving to the county at the age of 14 with his family in 1814, Hildebrand began his public service by becoming the drummer for the local militia. In adulthood Hildebrand became very active in his community and was the Washington County sheriff from 1850 to 1852. He also ran a local livery and stagecoach business delivering packages and mail to local residents.

“He was like a modern day UPS man,” said Reynolds.

His service to the residents of Washington County continued during the Civil War. Hildebrand was 61 when the war broke out, an age where most people of that era were long retired. Even though he was in the autumn of his life he still helped organize the 77th Ohio Volunteer Infantry which he later led in combat at the Battle of Shiloh. With such an accomplished resume of service to his community and his country, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in association with the Civil War Roundtable of the Mid-Ohio Valley have decided to honor his memory by dedicating a historical marker in his remembrance.

With the marker costing $2,200, Reynolds sought donors who were related to the honoree. Since Hildebrand was an early member of the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the group was his first choice for partnering on the project, he said.

“(The I.O.O.F.) was a huge fraternity during the Civil War. Now there are less than 2,000 members in the state and Marietta is one of the largest chapters,” he said.

The I.O.O.F. is a benevolent society made up of men and women who are working for the betterment of mankind. They still help local widows, orphans and donate to area food banks, Reynolds said.

Other organizations and community funds like the Marietta Community Foundation heard the rally cry for the marker and donated funds to make it a reality.

Heather Allender, president and CEO of the Marietta Community Foundation, said her organization funds projects that help the community.

“That includes history and its preservation so it can be shared with the public,” she said. “(The marker) helps with tourism and preserves knowledge.”

The history of Jess Hildebrand can be seen in other places aside from the marker. Campus Martius Museum has some of Hildebrand’s possessions on display, including a Confederate sword he received during his time in the Civil War.

The dedication will take place outside the I.O.O.F. Lodge at 1 p.m. on Saturday. After the ceremony the handicap accessible lodge hall will open its doors to the public and provide light refreshments.

If You Go

• What: Colonel Jess Hildebrand Historical Marker Dedication.

• Where: Independent Order of Oddfellows Lodge #67 Hall, 161 Front St., Marietta.

• When: 1 p.m. Saturday.

• Admission: Free and open to the public.