BRANDON — Remembering war veterans isn’t easy when they fought 150 or 200 years ago and their graves aren’t marked. So Bill Reedy of Brandon secured headstones for three soldiers — one from the War of 1812 and two from the Civil War — that will be dedicated Sunday.
“Come up,” Bill says, “if you want to see an impressive ceremony.”
Appropriately, the dedications will come at the end of Brandon’s annual “Cowboy Breakfast” which also pays tribute to long ago and runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
The first dedication starts at 1 p.m. at the Brandon Cemetery east of town. It’s for James Crum, A Civil War veteran. His great-great granddaughter, Vicki Crum Goatcher, is expected to attend from Arizona.
The second dedication follows at 1:45 p.m. at Spring Creek Cemetery northwest of Brandon. (From I-380 exit 55 go north a half-mile on V65, then turn left on Wellman Road for about a mile.) It’s for Civil War veteran Robert Lauderdale and War of 1812 veteran William Boyles.
The ceremonies will include members of the Iowa Chapter of the Society of 1812, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and American Legions from Brandon and Jesup. Expect to see men dressed as soldiers from both wars.
Before the ceremonies, participants will meet at the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) building in Brandon, one of the few still standing in Iowa.”
“The GAR was a sunset organization,” says Bill, 70, who has volunteered to help with old cemeteries since 2003. “Only men who served in the Civil War could belong. When they died, it died.”
But, the GAR kept veteran records of previous wars as well as the Civil War, which helped Bill research these soldiers.
“It all started with this one,” Bill says, pointing to a new granite stone for Robert Lauderdale at Spring Creek Cemetery. “A group was out cleaning stones and looking at those that needed repair.”
Lauderdale’s was in pieces. Bill’s research secured stones from the Department of Veterans Affairs for him and James Crum, a Civil War veteran who enlisted from Brandon at age 39, served eight months, and later moved out West. He died in 1909 and was buried at the Brandon cemetery where his marker stands.
Lauderdale had enlisted with friends and was one of three to die of malaria. In fact, records erroneously showed he was discharged Sept. 28, 1864 when, in fact, he died three days earlier at a Davenport hospital. One friend, E.W. Boyles, buried nearby, was discharged but died that November. His record led Bill to his grandfather, William Boyles, a captain in the War of 1812.
“I’ve been researching 1812 veterans since this is the bicentennial,” Bill says. “I’ve verified that 17 are buried in Buchanan County.”
They are remembered.
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