On November 11, 1918 amid the joyous festivities occurring in downtown Hartford to celebrate the end of the World War, Civil War veteran John Hale Thacher made his way to the top of the “old City Hall” (Old State House) to ring its bell. It was for him a repeat performance.
Around 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 9, 1865, news reached Hartford of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant. Thousands of Hartford citizens took to the streets in celebration. The downtown was bright with bonfires, Chinese lanterns and the gas jets in store display windows blazing at full force. An impromptu procession formed and marched down Main Street to the South Green and then back again. Joining in with the noise of the crowds and bands, bells pealed including the State House bell being rung by veteran soldier John Thacher.
A descendant of Revolutionary War soldier Captain John Thacher (New Haven Militia), he mustered in to Company G of the 20th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry on September 8, 1862 and saw action at Chancellorsville in May 1863 and was among the first of the Union troops to arrive at Gettysburg the following July. He was discharged for disability on March 20, 1864. After the war, Thacher was employed at the Connecticut Fire Insurance Company, was active in Grand Army of the Republic (including serving as commander of the Robert O. Tyler during the latter part of the 1890’s ) and was a trustee of the Soldiers’ Home in Noroton. He died at his home on Capitol Avenue on August 3, 1927 at the age of 80.