Sunday, August 24, 2014

Going to Graceland: Honoring Civil War veterans

Robert Killen and William Humphreys, both 96, died hours apart on Jan. 25, 1941. On Saturday, they were honored an hour apart, Killen at 9 a.m. at Graceland Cemetery near Norwood and Humphreys, at 10 a.m. at Mount Zion north of Oakley, as Lucas County's longest-surviving veterans of the Civil War.

Mike Rowley, clad in replica wool on what would turn into one of southern Iowa's hottest days of the summer, and Tom Gaard --- both of the Iowa Division, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, were down from Des Moines to present the honors. After brief remarks, small metal signs noting the two mens' longevity and service, commissioned by the Sons, were unveiled at both graves.

The simple ceremonies occurred after a night of extremely heavy rain across much of Iowa and White Breast Creek and smaller nearby streams would go out of their banks later in the day --- Highway 65 at Lucas was closed by flooding by evening. But on Saturday morning, rain had ceased, although under a flash-flood warning water had not yet risen and the two beautifully maintained cemeteries were for the most part high and dry. (Information posted earlier about Killen and Humphreys may be found here.)

Graceland, northeast of Norwood in Otter Creek Township, was the Killen family church, although Robert himself was not baptized until age 94. Graceland Church, an early congregation of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ) was organized at the turn of the 20th century as a mission of the Lucas RLDS Church, which dated from 1877; and the cemetery dates from 1901. The church, open by deed covenant to all who cared to use it when the congregation wasn't gathered, stood just to the north in the center of a quadrangle of catalpa trees planted many years ago by Kate Cackler, an early member. It was torn down during 1972.

Robert left many descendants, and two of his grandsons were present Saturday morning, Jerry Marker (left) and Larry Marker. Mary Sandy (far left) is a niece.

After the ceremony, the group gathered behind the Killen tombstone for a photo and were joined by Gaard, who has coordinated the effort to locate and mark the graves of the last surviving veterans in all Iowa counties.

After Saturday morning's observance at Graceland, Rowley and Gaard drove southeast to Mount Zion Cemetery, on a bluff above White Breast Creek north of Oakley, to place a similar sign at the grave of William Humphreys. Humphreys was an organizer of Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church, which once stood in the center of the cemetery's circle drive.

William left no descendants, but Don Garrett, commander of Chariton's Carl L. Caviness Post, American Legion, was there, as was a neighbor, Terin Dittmer.

After the unveiling at Mount Zion was complete, Rowley and Gaard headed for Leon, where a similar ceremony was scheduled for Decatur County's longest-surviving veteran; then on to the Hopeville Cemetery southwest of Osceola, for the final program of the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know Kate Cackler but my grandparents along with my parents are buried there in Graceland. Their names are Thomas and Erma and Wayne and Donna. Along with my great grandparents who I never met, Nathan and Dorcus Crooks.