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Civil War vet stayed in Vegas

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By Don Pace

Civil War Pvt. Chauncey Flower was remembered for his service to his country in a tribute that included the always stirring playing of taps.

Las Vegas veterans representing Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1547, along with Flower’s great grandchildren and a few guests, honored the fallen soldier who is buried in the state hospital’s cemetery.

Enlisting as a private in Company G, 56th Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia of 1863, Flower came forward during a moment of pressing need. But his life was also colorful and at times tragic.

“This means more than words can ever express to the family,” amateur genealogist and Chauncey’s great grandson, Paul Shumaker, said. “I’ve been researching Chauncey’s life for 11 years. For 10 years, that research brought my wife and me here to the hospital; my brother Bob is here to participate in this ceremony and tell you a little about the man we have all come to love.”

Shumaker said Flower was born in New York State in 1845 and died in 1922 at the state hospital in Las Vegas. He was a descendant of Sir Roger Flower of 1300s Rutlandshire, England. 

Flower was a dentist by profession and had three wives. By 1893, his second marriage was falling apart and he went to the Chicago World Fair, where he saved the foot of a lad who had been trampled by a camel. The boy he saved turned out to be the Rajah Tipo Sahab of India.

Shumaker said Flower was later called to St. Louis by a mysterious message and given $10,000 worth of presents and an offer of a lifetime job as the physician to the Rajah.

“In 1894, his divorce from my great grandmother was finalized two weeks before she died of the flu. In 1896 he married his third wife in Pennsylvania and continued to practice dentistry there until the early 1900s,” Shumaker said.

Flower held patents in England, France and the United States for his “Dental Gold Process.” He received royalties for some years from that patent.

Around 1915, Flower came to New Mexico to homestead on 320 acres in Lincoln County and was living there when he was committed to the New Mexico State Insane Asylum in 1916 by the Lincoln County courts as addicted to alcohol and laudanum. He was later discharged as cured.

Flower went to White County, Ark., briefly, then to Pennsylvania and back to Lincoln County.

“We are especially grateful to the staff for their kindness and hospitality to Chauncey so many years ago,” Shumaker said.