Catto Society Honors Fallen Hero

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Octavius V. Catto 1839-1871

Octavius V. Catto
1839-1871

 

The O.V. Catto Society was founded by Marcus Mitchell almost 20 years ago, to honor and spread knowledge of Octavius V. Catto, Philadelphia 19th c. civil-rights leader and martyr.

Suzanne L Haney, Republican leader of the 2nd Ward and long-time community activist, knew where O.V. Catto had lived. Local historian Marcus Mitchell contacted her to get involved and organize local support for the Society. She became Society Secretary and as 2nd Ward Leader recruited support, also preparing and donating the Catto Society Ceremony Program.

Catto’s own 3rd USCT Infantry ‘United States Colored Troops’ and Sons of Union Veterans involvement were crucial. So they contacted the 3rd USCT Infantry and Dr. Andy Waskie, Temple University’s Civil War & Emancipation Studies President and Founder of the General Mead Society, to contact the ceremony’s military honors.

About 10 years ago the O.V. Catto Lodge 20 IBPOEW and its Women’s Auxiliary, named for Phyllis Wheatley, got involved. Their lodge founded 1906 has honored O.V. Catto for over a century. They will have their 111th annual Formal Dinner & Ball on Apr. 12.

Mitchell, the 55th Ward Republican Leader, was appointed to Phila.’s Memorial Fund Committee to erect a Catto statue and the Catto Society’s Suzanne L Haney and members placed a wreath honor our Hero at the 2007 Grave marker dedication Ceremony at Eden Cemetery. The OV Catto Society and their Catto banner marched with on Phila’s 150th start of the Civil War, [followed by Cheyney University’s Marching Band, successor to Catto’s Institute for Colored Youth], from the Union League to the Parade ground on Washington Avenue. They have also distributed Society information at Philadelphia’s Black Heritage Weekend each year at Easter at the Civic Center extension.

A medal struck in O.V. Catto’s honor at the time of his murder, has been recently revived by the Pennsylvania National Guard at Dr Waskie’s prodding, with an honor ceremony held at the Union League of Philadelphia. Plans are underway to expand Catto Society participation in that ceremony.

The Society is working to have a USPS postal stamp issued in honor of Catto, by the 150th anniversary of the United States’ 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, which he was instrumental in having ratified in 1870 by the requisite number of Northern states. All are invited to join the O.V. Catto Society and attend future memorial ceremonies at Starr Garden Rec Center, 6th & Lombard, across from Mother Bethel Church, the polling station Catto was protecting in1871, usually held on the last Saturday, closest to Catto’s February birthday. For information contact Haney at suzannelhaney@msn.com.

2ND WARD Republican Leader Suzanne Haney, right, and Barbara Hankinson, of O.V. Catto Society, honor heroic fallen leader in annual ceremonies at Starr Garden, 6th & Lombard, with laying of wreaths last Saturday.

2ND WARD Republican Leader Suzanne Haney, right, and Barbara Hankinson, of O.V. Catto Society, honor heroic fallen leader in annual ceremonies at Starr Garden, 6th & Lombard, with laying of wreaths last Saturday.

MAJOR Octavius Catto Medal was presented to two Penna. National Guard Soldiers at Union League Armed Services Committee lunch. Catto, an African American, was assigned to quell riots in Phila. which sought to block voting by Black citizens in 1871. After suppressing the unrest, Catto was murdered as he walked home on Lombard Street. His funeral had second-highest number of attendees after that of Abraham Lincoln. Staff Sgt. Robin E. Johnson and 1st Lt. Charese R. Baston were honored for exceptional service to community and country. Behind them are Sgt. Joseph Lee, 3rd Regiment Colored Troops reenactor; Ed Barna and wife, Ben Franklin Post; State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, Legislative Black Caucus leader; Jon Peterson, Ben Franklin Post Commander; Albert El, Ben Franklin Post Chaplain; and Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, Commander of Penna. National Guard. Photo by Joe Stivala

MAJOR Octavius Catto Medal was presented to two Penna. National Guard Soldiers at Union League Armed Services Committee lunch. Catto, an African American, was assigned to quell riots in Phila. which sought to block voting by Black citizens in 1871. After suppressing the unrest, Catto was murdered as he walked home on Lombard Street. His funeral had second-highest number of attendees after that of Abraham Lincoln. Staff Sgt. Robin E. Johnson and 1st Lt. Charese R. Baston were honored for exceptional service to community and country. Behind them are Sgt. Joseph Lee, 3rd Regiment Colored Troops reenactor; Ed Barna and wife, Ben Franklin Post; State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, Legislative Black Caucus leader; Jon Peterson, Ben Franklin Post Commander; Albert El, Ben Franklin Post Chaplain; and Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, Commander of Penna. National Guard. Photo by Joe Stivala

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4 Responses to Catto Society Honors Fallen Hero

  1. My First Sergeant told me I was in the paper! I would like to get a copy of the article for LT Baston and myself.
    Thank you for the photo op.

    SSG Robin Johnson
    56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team
    PA Army National Guard

    Robin
    February 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

  2. Robin,

    Are you located in or near Philadelphia? If you are, we can tell you where to find a copy.

    editor @pr
    February 21, 2014 at 9:22 am

  3. Good Evening,

    Yes I live in Philadelphia, near Germantown Area. I am planning a visit downtown the week of Feb 25th.

    Thank you so much.

    Robin Johnson
    February 22, 2014 at 12:09 am

  4. You may pick up a copy of this issue at our office, 1323 S. Broad St. Please call in advance (215) 755-2000 to make sure someone will be there. 9 am-2 pm are usually good times.

    editor @pr
    February 27, 2014 at 10:37 am

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