by Kennie Lynn Klingback
"Balaam Fox, 80, Civil War veteran and Montour's Grand Old Man, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C. G. Schuler at Montour on Monday. His death was caused by old age and general debility. The funeral service was held at Montour, Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock, and interment was made in the Sweet-Montour Cemetery. The deceased is survived by his six children, W.C. Fox, Topeka, Kas., C. W. Fox, Eugene, Ore., Mrs. Floy Lundington, Portland, Ore., Mr. C. J. Simmons, Portland, Ore., Bruce Fox, Salem, Ore., Mrs. C.G. Shuler, Montour.
"Balaam Fox was born in Litchfield, Illinois in 1845. At the age of nine, with his parents he moved to Kansas where he grew to young manhood. When the dark cloud of the terrible Civil war spread over the nation, Mr. Fox was living in Missouri. In 1861 he marched away with the Boys in Blue as a member of Co. B, Seventh Missouri Volunteer Cavalry. He served under old glory for four years, 6 months and 18 days. During this time he met with many frightful experiences, he was twice wounded, then taken prisoner by the Confederates and imprisoned for 11 months at Fort Tyler, Texas. Throughout his enlistment Mr. Fox served with honor and gallantry. Upon the ending of the war, Mr. Fox settled in Kansas and remained in that state until the year 1919 when he moved to Montour, Idaho. Thus another old man--who was once young, and answered the call of this country that our flag might ever be one, has gone to his reward. He was a soldier and a man." -- Examiner, March 26, 1925
(click for larger image)
Balaam Fox was not only a Civil War soldier. In the 1850's as a teenager, he was an ambulance driver for General Harney in the Indian Wars in Kansas. For the next several years he was a dispatch bearer for the army and drove ox and mule teams for Russell, Majors, & Waddell, the overland freighting firm. In 1860 he was carrying dispatch for the 1st US Cavalry between Kansas and Denver. He enlisted in the 7th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry and became an ambulance driver. They were involved in battles all over Missouri and points East. Ambulance drivers not only drove, they also received rudimentary medical training. They worked under fire and dealt with all possible road and equipment conditions as well as tending the wounded. After he was taken prisoner by the Confederates, he was sent to Camp Ford in Tyler, TX for 11 months. Camp Ford was a 10 acre site surrounded by a stockade fence. 6000 prisoners were sent to this horrible place - not all at the same time. Some were paroled, some escaped, and some died. At the end of the war there were 1800 men left.
After the war he drove stage up and down the Santa Fe trail for Barlow & Sanderson, driving a Concord coach. He transferred farther to the Southwest near the Arizona border. Balaam then went into the employ of Ben Holladay on the Overland Stage Line driving stagecoach over rough roads in Idaho and Montana. Stage drivers were celebrated men in their time, paid well, and in their day became as famous as rock stars today. Balaam Fox is buried in the Sweet-Montour Cemetery under a Civil War era tombstone.
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