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Cemetery board to place tombstones for Civil War veterans

Cemetery board to place tombstones for Civil War veterans

September 21st, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

Cemetery Resources Board commissioner Nancy Thompson, left, speaks to fellow commissioners Jeanne Rutledge, Dawn Hackman and Tim Theroff on Thursday about the Sarah Walker tabletstone the commission restored earlier this year. Sarah Walker is the wife of former Missouri state Treasurer John G. Walker and niece of President Andrew Jackson.

Photo by Nicole Roberts /News Tribune.

Many Jefferson City residents' names and stories are being lost to time.

Walking among the old tombstones at the Woodland-Old City Cemetery on Thursday morning, members of the Jefferson City Cemetery Resources Board pointed out several illegible names and crumbling tombstones.

"Isn't this sad?" Chairman Tim Theroff asked board member Dawn Hackman as they stepped over a shattered tablet stone, the name of the person buried there no longer visible.

To help remember some of the people buried in the Woodland-Old City Cemetery, the Cemetery Resources Board plans to place tombstones in honor of Civil War veterans buried there.

Weaving in and out of tombstones, board members made their way to the far corner of the cemetery, near the intersection of Chestnut and East McCarty streets. Where an old tree and brick wall once stood, board members hope to place five tombstones honoring white and black Civil War veterans.

The board plans to order eight tombstones for the veterans, co-chair Nancy Thompson said. The tombstones would be for Andreas Gundelfinger, John F. Roesen, Adam Hirsch, Charles W. Thomas, Henry Bolton, John Holmes, James Nelson and Horace Alexander.

Three tombstones will be placed near relatives buried in the cemetery.

Through research and process of elimination, Thompson said, she learned these individuals were buried in the cemetery and wanted to honor them.

Vague records have proven to be a hurdle. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would not purchase the eight tombstones since the board did not have death certificates or obituaries stating where the people were buried, Thompson said. Cemetery records are not considered proof of burial, she added.

The VA did purchase four other tombstones, Thompson said. These tombstones are for veterans James Monroe Jobe, Tillman Morse, Julius Caesar Jordan and Henry Carroll.

The board will fundraise and apply for grants to help offset the cost of the tombstones.

Seven of the 12 individuals were part of the U.S. Colored Infantry 62nd Regiment who helped establish Lincoln University, Thompson said.

"Their military service and extraordinary contribution to the African-American community are an important part of our history," she said. "There should be a visual record of their final resting place."

Walking through the cemetery, Theroff's concern was that the board would place the tombstones on top of other people's graves.

"I'm worried someone will come back and prove, 'My uncle Fred was buried there,'" he said, adding he doesn't want to place the tombstones on a grave and "misrepresent someone."

Since the area they selected had a tree and brick wall, Thompson said, she does not believe there were unmarked graves there.

The Woodland-Old City Cemetery recently was added to the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.

Old City Cemetery was established in 1826, while Woodland Cemetery was founded in 1838.