26 April 2010

Obituary and More—James T Battles

This following obituary reminded me of the story of how he got his grave stone. More on that later.
From the 31 December 1913, Fremont TimesIndicator, reprinted from the Newaygo Republican.
James T Battles, for many years a resident of Garfield township, died in the Soldiers’ home hospital, Grand Rapids, last Friday after an illness of several months. The remains were brought to Newaygo and funeral services, conducted by Rev. C. L. Graham were held in the Baptist church Monday afternoon. –Newaygo Republican.

Another notice has no date, but appears, by the font, to also be from the Republican.

Jas. Battles Dead. Word was received here Monday that Jas. Battles, who for many years peddled vegetables in the various towns in this county, died Friday at the Soldiers home at Grand Rapids. During the past two years Jim has been failing in health fast, and had to give up the work of peddling. He was well known through the county and lived near the Muskegon river.

Sounds like a rather ordinary notices of the death of a former resident doesn’t it?
However once my co-blogger/boss Sandy got done, it had given rise to far more. This is how:
James Battles came to Sandy’s attention from a library patron and friend who is also a local historian. He has researched the area Civil War veterans and had discovered a picture of Civil War veterans standing around a grave at a funeral. James’ funeral. These veterans, all white as typical in this area settled heavily with Dutch, Danish, and Germans immigrants, are paying honor to their black comrade. (James was one of only 2 blacks out of over 700 from the county who served in the Civil War.)
However, although the location of his grave site was known, there was no marker. The patron notified Sandy, as the then president of the Newaygo County Society of History and Genealogy (NCSHG), urging her to do something.So Sandy looked into it and much paper work went flying back and forth between her and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Until one day Sandy was greeted by a delivery at the library.
“Hey, Lady, where do you want this tombstone?”
Instead of delivering it to the cemetery, there it was at the library.
Finally on Saturday, 28 May 2006, the NCSHG hosted a dedication ceremony for the new stone. An impressive ceremony was conducted by the General John A. Logan Camp No. 1 of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Champlin Corps No. 41 Women Relief Corps of Grand Rapids. The cost of the stone was donated by the Daughters of Union Vets Eva Grey Tent No. 2.
There were many Civil War enthusiasts, historians and local officials were in attendance, including the patron who had started the quest, and
James’ grave finally had its marker.

Anyone wishing to dig further will find articles in the 31 May 2006 Fremont TimesIndicator, as well as the 25 May 2006 Grand Rapids Press.

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