Edward Porter Williams was a 19 year old student at Western Reserve College in 1862 when he joined Co. B of the 85th O.V.I. along with other students and faculty from the college. Williams served at Camp Chase, guarding confederate prisoners or war.
During their service, 10 members of the 85th would die of disease and Williams, sick with typhoid fever, would have to be carried on a cot after being mustered out in Sept. 1862. He returned to his studies and earned both a bachelor’s degree and a masters from Western Reserve.
In 1870, Williams invested $15,000 to become partners with Henry Sherwin to form Sherwin-Williams Company. The company, headquartered in Cleveland, grew to be a leading producer of paint and coating products and is today one of the largest companies in the Northeast Ohio region.
On the night of Nov. 18, 1861, Julia Ward Howe penned the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic after attending a review of troops in Washington D.C. and hearing the tune "John Brown's Body." The song would quickly become one of the foremost patriotic songs of the Civil War.
Ward Howe Recalled. "Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, 'I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.' So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed...I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper."
Since 1862, the Battle Hymn has been performed regularly. In 1960, a recording of the song performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir won a Grammy Award. That version was promoted extensively by Cleveland disk jockey Bill Randle.