VINTON, Ohio — Plans are underway for the return of the Vinton Bean Dinner, complete with a parade.
According to a news release from organizers, this year’s event, which is sponsored by the American Legion, Vinton Post #161, and Auxiliary Unit #161, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 7
The drive-through feature will be utilized again this year for people who want to buy beans and leave. Reportedly, 200 pounds of beans will be served from noon to 2:30 p.m.
In regards to the parade, this year it’s sponsored by the Vinton Fire Department. Participants should start assembling at the Vinton Elementary School around 10:30 a.m., the parade will leave at 11:30 a.m. the day of the event.
The legion’s Auxiliary will have an assortment of “fine food and refreshments” available, according to the news release. Details are still pending on the musical entertainment. Everyone is welcome at the event.
The father of the Vinton Bean Dinner is William Symmes (W.S.) Matthews.
According to information submitted by John Holcomb, historian for Post #161, Civil War veteran Matthews, a native of Vinton, Gallia County, Ohio, and his older brother, Thomas Corwin Matthews, enlisted in the 1st Ohio Volunteer Heavy Artillery during the Civil War.
William survived the war, but lost his older brother Thomas (better known as “Corwin”) to disease in February 1864 while Corwin was serving at Covington, Kentucky.
William would later organize a Post of the Grand Army of the Republic at Vinton which its members named “Corwin Post” in honor of their fallen comrade. With the establishment of this GAR Post (a veteran’s organization much like today’s American Legion, V.F.W. and etc.) the ground work for the first GAR Bean Dinner at Vinton had been established although no one knew it at the time.
W. S. Matthews’ efforts to organize a post of the GAR at Vinton began in September 1882, when William sent announcements to the both the Gallipolis Journal and the Gallipolis Bulletin newspapers. These announcements were published in the following issues of those newspapers, the Bulletin on Oct. 3, 1882, and the Journal on Oct. 5, 1882. Both announcements to the editors of those newspapers requested:
“Please announce in your next issue that the ex-soldiers of Huntington and joining Townships are requested to meet at Vinton, on Saturday Oct. 14, for the purpose of organizing a Post of the G. A. R. W. S. MATTHEWS.” (Matthews’ request was dated Sept. 29, 1882.)
Matthews was successful in getting this GAR Post at Vinton organized and the names of the officers of this new Post, plus other details about the Post were given in the Oct. 17, 1882 and Oct. 19, 1882 issues of the Gallipolis Bulletin, and Gallipolis Journal newspapers respectively.
One year after it was organized, members of Corwin Post No. 259 GAR at Vinton decided to hold a “Soldier’s Campfire” to celebrate the first anniversary of their new Post. Announcements about the soldier’s campfire were published in the newspapers four weeks prior to the campfire, consequently a crowd of 1,500 to 2,000 people attended. The “Bill of Fare” (the soldier’s meal), consisted of “pork, hardtack, slap jack, and beans.” (Copies of the Oct. 16, 1883 issue of the Gallipolis Bulletin, and the Oct. 18, 1883 issue of the Gallipolis Journal which contain the details about this event can be seen in the newspaper archives at the Samuel Bossard Memorial Library in Gallipolis, Ohio.)
Significant numbers of the civil war soldiers had passed away by the mid 1920s (Mr. Matthews, himself, who became the Assistant Adjutant General of the Department of Ohio GAR in 1906, passed away in 1926.) Civilians stepped in to help the remaining soldiers, which for a number of reasons eventually led to the name of this event being changed to the Vinton Bean Dinner.
Information for this article provided by John Holcomb.