What does “UVL” or “APO” mean in an obituary?


Your ancestor may have an obituary that reads:  “and members of the U.V.L., A.O.P., I.O.O.F.,” and a list of other abbreviations.  The 1880s-1920s is sometimes referred to as the “golden age of fraternities” with the rise in membership and organizations occurring during that time.  Two would be of relevance to our 74th ancestors. 


The first that I encountered was the U.V.L., or Union Veteran Legion.  Unlike the much more familiar Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), finding good information on the UVL was always a bit of a challenge.  It wasn’t until a meeting with Prof. Anthony Waskie that I had it succinctly explained who the UVL was…”They were the veterans that (1) signed up for three years; (2) served at least two years of it, or discharged because of a wound; and, (3) they couldn’t have received a bounty to substitute for someone.”  Then Andy pointed to a history of the G.A.R. and said, take a look at its pages about the UVL.  Look I did and then I photographed the pages!  The History of the Grand Army of the Republic by Robert Beath is a remarkable collection of information about the G.A.R. and its various allied orders.


Sure, I had come across pictures, some references, and in the case of one museum an annual roster of members which I scanned quickly for 74thers.  But, it was that history that really gave me the information I was looking for. 


Organized in Pittsburgh in 1884, the UVL grew very quickly in membership.  Here are the pages from Beath – no point repeating what he so well wrote:




[See also the Manual and Key of the Grand Army of the Republic by J. Worth Carnahan]


The Pittsburgh group was one of the most active.  The Heins Center happens to have a remarkable little book in its collection that lists the roster of the UVL for Encampment No. 1 both past and present.  This is a great resource and is on my list to get a copy of each and every page.  I post the cover here in case some adventurous soul gets to the Heins Center before I make my next pilgrimage back East.




The poem needs to be available and out there for all to see.  It’s one of those written in the style of veteran remembrances that one doesn’t see much of, unfortunately, anymore.


Here are two examples of why I would love to have a full copy of this document:



Bret’s ancestor Joseph Newmeyer – I got distracted as I was taking this picture and it got blurred.  Also note Captain Neidhart.


Occasionally on Ebay one finds UVL items listed.  I cannot say that I have been lucky enough to actually win any of these items as they go for a very good price due to their scarcity.


Colonel Commander’s Badge


Lieutenant Colonel’s Badge


Encampment badges




Society of the Army of the Potomac

Found shortly after the war, this was a society open to all who had served in the Army of the Potomac and included the 10th and 18th Corps of the Army of the James.  Its members met annually as well.  Thanks to Florida’s Educational Technology Clearing House, I can share a great line drawing of the Society’s badge and the description associated with it.


Description: "The Union forces which operated in Virginia in the Civil War were known as the "Army of the Potomac." It was organized by Gen. George B. McClellan in 1861, and served under him in the Peninsular campaign and later in that of Antietam. General Burnside took command in 1862, and General Hooker in 1863. General Meade was in command when the victory at Gettysburg was won, in July, 1863, and continued in charge during General Grant's operations in 1864-1865."—(Charles Leonard-Stuart, 1911)
Source: Everybody's Cyclopedia (New York: Syndicate Publishing Company, 1912)


Let me know if you have any memorabilia associated with the Society of the Army of the Potomac.  Would love to share it with folks.