Local Civil War veterans to be shown respect

The tombstone of Andrew W. Patterson is broken, but it is on the list to be cleaned by a volunteer. Patterson died on August 23, 1899 at age 58. He achieved the rank of corporal in Co. I, 8th Regiment, United States Colored Troops. The star marker indicates he served during the Civil War.

Greencastle will observe its own Civil War Sesquicentennial this spring by honoring veterans buried in local cemeteries.

The Allison-Antrim Museum board of directors selected an endeavor researched by Marty Zimmerman III. He reviewed projects taken on by other towns across the United States.

"This was one of them. It seemed doable," said Bonnie Shockey, board president.

The board wants citizens to help clean headstones of Civil War veterans, in advance of a program on Father's Day, June 16. At that time, board members will be stationed at Cedar Hill Cemetery and other smaller graveyards about Antrim Township, reading the names of Civil War veterans laid to rest in the area. Some were Greencastle natives, others settled here after the war.

"We want this to be a community project," said Shockey. "We invite anyone who is interested - church groups, Scouts, service organizations, families."

A training session will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18. People may meet near the Cedar Hill rostrum. Amy Cox, Ft. Loudon, will teach the parties how to clean headstones. The basic tools are a bucket, water, non-sudsing ammonia, a soft-bristled brush and a toothbrush. The environmentally-friendly supplies will remove algae and dirt from the stones.

Shockey has gathered the names of 250 veterans from the Franklin County Veterans Association. The burial cards indicate the kind of headstone, footstone, or family stone marking each grave. She also hopes to identify the location of each grave so people can easily find the ones they will clean. Some are marked with a G.A.R. emblem, showing the soldier served the Grand Army of the Republic.

Once the residents know how to care for the headstones, they can clean the assigned names on their own time before June 16.

Cox has been contracted to clean stones at other cemeteries, and wrote a book on the subject. Shockey became aware of her talents when Cox spoke at an Allison-Antrim Museum monthly meeting.

Many communities from both the North and the South are creating Civil War 150 events during the years 2011-2015. Greencastle hosted a Skirmish on the Square in 2011.