Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembering Ansel

About 10 years ago I got knee deep in my genealogy again. I was once again scraping and scrounging to find my roots. Persistence allowed me to make several connections, one of which was the resolution to the old Eaton family story that we were descended from the Mayflower. Although not definitive, strong circumstantial evidence supports the claim.

Along that road of research, I met Ansel. Ansel is my Great Great Grand Uncle on my mother's paternal side. Ansel was born in upstate New York on Jan 6 1840. On August 15, 1862, he enlisted in the service at Fort Snelling. He was a private of Company E, 9th Regiment of the Minnesota Infantry (click to enlarge):
Ansel returned home safely, and married a fine young Southern MN lady, Sarah Oliver, of Blue Earth County [MN Marriage Records (to Sarah OLIVER, 28 Jun 1866, at Shelbyville, Blue Earth County, MN]. They had several children (9 according to my records).

Sarah passed in 1909, and Ansel was alone. He spent his final years, battling cancer, in a Soldiers' home in Cumberland Wisconsin. In late August of 1917, Ansel decided to travel to St. Paul, to visit with long lost friends from his days in the Civil war. A newspaper account at the time describe his jubilation upon meeting his friends after so long. The excitement got the best of him. He died of a heart attack that day.

Ansel was laid to rest, in an unmarked grave, at Oakland Cemetery here in St. Paul, just a few blocks from where I currently work.
In 1878, lots were set aside in the "Soldiers Rest" area for the free burial of Civil War veterans and the Army provided the headstones. Lots were also designated for free burial of Spanish-American War dead and veterans. The St. Paul Firemen's Association bought a group of lots in 1868 for burial of their members and a lifesize statue of a fireman was erected in 1890.
He's in good company.

I visited the sextant of the cemetery to find Ansel, and was able to locate his plot. After all these years, he was still unmarked. I worked with the local Civil War historian (Pat Hill) who was working to identify and gather paperwork to get as many stones as possible in place for the 150th anniversary of the Cemetery, in 2003. It was not very long before Ansel was properly marked.

I visited him this morning, and placed a small bouquet of flowers at his head. It was the least I could do, to remember one of my ancestors on this important day. In the past I have listed all my family who have served, or are serving, in the armed forces.

Take a moment to thank a vet, and just a bit longer to pray for those still in harms way, especially, my son Sgt. Tom.

More later.


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