Civil War group to assist residents in ancestry research

KALEVA — Members of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Robert Finch Camp No. 14 will be coming to the Kaleva Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No.6333  on July 14 to assist people in search of relatives who were soldiers in the Civil War.

Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Robert Finch Camp No. 14 have been going around to cemeteries in this area like the Oak Grove Cemetery in Manistee to record the names of veterans who served in the Civil War. They will be at the Kaleva VFW Post No. 6333 on from noon to 5 p.m. to assist anyone looking for information on relatives who served in the Civil War.

Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Robert Finch Camp No. 14 have been going around to cemeteries in this area like the Oak Grove Cemetery in Manistee to record the names of veterans who served in the Civil War. They will be at the Kaleva VFW Post No. 6333 on from noon to 5 p.m. to assist anyone looking for information on relatives who served in the Civil War.

Local veteran Calvin Murphy said the group is doing a six county study that includes Manistee on graves of Civil War veterans.

“Manistee County had more buried here than the other five counties and there were 180 plus,” said Murhpy. “On July 14 the Sons of the Union Veterans will have an open house at the Kaleva VFW from noon to 5 p.m. They are having a cookout, but encourage the public to come if they want to research and see if they have relatives among the information they have recorded.”

Murphy said the just three weeks ago the group was at Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City for a program to honor Civil War veterans.

“There were 11 Civil War veterans that did not have headstones, and they got them and then had a service for those soldiers,” said Murphy. “It was was attended by between 400 or 500 people and was a real nice service. They also have one of their group who has cleaned well over 400 Civil War gravestones around the area.”

Murphy said that the group was dressed in Civil War period attire for the event. They live in many different counties and they come from many different counties in the area, but are based in Traverse City.

The purpose of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is to perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) to assist in the preservation of that information to make those documents and records available to the public.

“They have already done a survey of local cemeteries in Manistee County; they worked with all the sextons,” said Murphy. “This group believes in the Civil War history and they like to record everything they find so others can use it in their searches.”

Gravestones for Civil War veterans that are worn unlike this one for George Fowler at Oak Grove Cemetery are replaced and sometimes cleaned by the  Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Robert Finch Camp No. 14 who are based out of Traverse City area.

Gravestones for Civil War veterans that are worn unlike this one for George Fowler at Oak Grove Cemetery are replaced and sometimes cleaned by the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Robert Finch Camp No. 14 who are based out of Traverse City area.

Murphy said this area has always had a strong interest in the Civil War including the late Benzie County author Bruce Catton, who won a Pulitizer Prize for penning such books as “Glory Road,” “A Stillness at Appomatox” and “Mr. Lincoln’s Army.”

Murphy said  the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Robert Finch Camp No. 14 will be available for the public that day if they have questions about individuals. They work to preserve and make available documents and records for research pertaining to G.A.R. and its members.

To date they have located over 1,500 Union veteran graves in this region. The database enables the them to connect family members and genealogists with the long-lost soldier ancestors. They also record the conditions of gravestones  if replacements are needed besides ordering new stones for those that were unknown or buried in pauper graves.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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