MT. ZION – The Honorable Richard Masson, 59th Judicial District Judge, took part in the fifth annual Memorial Day Dedication at Mt. Zion Historic Park on Saturday afternoon, addressing the large crowd gathered about the plans currently under way for a Civil War memorial for the Elk County chapter of the Bucktails.
Masson began by commenting on the Historic Park in general, referring to it as a “wonderful facility.”
“Ten years ago [it] didn’t exist, but because of the foresight of the members of the community here in Jay Township and Bennetts Valley in general, this park has developed as a fitting and wonderful memorial to the history of this area,” Masson said.
In discussing the planned memorial, which Mt. Zion Historical Society members plan to dedicate next June, Masson explained that the Bucktails are one of the most famous Civil War regiments in the Army of the Potomac and were renowned throughout the Eastern Theater.
“The Bucktails were known by at least five names. They were Kane’s Rifles, because Thomas Leiper Kane was the organizer of the Bucktail Regiment. They were also known as the Pennsylvania Rifles, and sometimes the 1st Rifles. They were the 13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Reserves, and they were also the 42nd of the line. But they were most famously known as the Bucktails,” Masson said.
He also discussed the original recruitment notice that was circulated throughout the area 150 years ago by Thomas Kane, explaining that it is remarkable, given the remoteness of the area at that time, that so many individuals received the message and joined the group.
“What I find to be amazing was that this flier was able to be generated within a week or 10 days of the firing on Fort Sumter. This was the handbill that Thomas Leiper Kane had generated to recruit men into a regiment from this area. You have to remember what this area was like in 1861. It was extremely remote, and how that communication got to all of the different communities is still surprising to me. I don’t know how it was done. There were no means of communication other than by foot, horseback, and some very rudimentary telegraph systems,” Masson said.
Groups of men formed in McKean, Cameron and Elk counties, and these individuals later became the core of the Bucktail Regiment.
“The impetus behind our current project in creating a monument to the men who formed the Elk County Rifles, Company G, is that of those three original companies, Elk County is the only one of those counties that does not have a permanent memorial to its men,” Masson said.
Masson referred to the planned monument as a “very, very fitting tribute, and an overdue tribute” to the individuals who served in the Elk County Chapter of the Bucktails.