The Veterans’ Headstone Project continues to ensure that LaGrange County veterans’ gravesites are not forgotten.
Jean Fremion-McKibben has headed up the project since August 2011, overseeing close to 60 headstones replaced in cemeteries around the county.
This summer, 29 grave markers will be installed. Fourteen have already been finished, with the remaining projects set for later this summer. McKibben works with others to identify markers that are weather-worn or damaged. Jack Miller with Sons of the American Legion Squadron 215 devotes countless hours to researching and recording the burial location of every serviceman and woman buried in LaGrange County. “He has worked for many years to ensure that their record or service is recorded and shared wherever it is needed so that the lives and deeds of these soldiers is never forgotten,” McKibben said.
McKibben has also worked closely with Wes Speicher from LaGrange Monument Works in getting the headstones in place, with Chris Speicher and Rich Star handling the installations.
The work is ongoing as each year McKibben and her partners find additional grave markers that need attention. Once she has identified markers to address, McKibben works on raising funds for the replacements. “We get donations. The county and town provide some funding. The Sons of the American Legion help, along with grants from the LaGrange County Community Foundation,” McKibben said. Private individuals and businesses in the area also contribute to the project.
The project is looking at 35 sites for 2015.
To support the project, contact Jean Fremion-McKibben at 463-6479.
The 14 veterans who have had new or supplementary headstones placed so far this summer are:
Joseph G. Wear – Private Joseph G. Wear enlisted on August 27, 1861 into the 29th Indiana Infantry, CO B at age 23, a resident of Elkhart County. He received a disability discharge on November 25, 1862. He was living in Clay Township, LaGrange County, with his wife Isabel and daughter Margaret when he died in 1874 at the age of 35.
John Earle Sackett – John E. Sackett enlisted as a private on January 30, 1862. Born in the state of New York about 1835, he resided with his parents, two brothers and a sister in Eden Township, LaGrange County, when he volunteered to serve the Union. The 48th IN saw intense battle at Corinth, Jackson, Champions Hill, and Vicksburg, to name a few. Pvt. Sackett died while in service on May 5, 1864.
Abel Curl – Abel Curl enlisted as a Corporal in CO K of the 28th Iowa Infantry on August 5, 1862 at age 28. This regiment was lauded for its bravery in battle – raw recruits that served with the determination and toughness of veterans. During the time Corporal Curl was with CO K the regiment was engaged in numerous conflicts, a few of the most notable the battles of Port Gibson, Jackson, and the Battle/Siege of Vicksburg. Corporal Curl succumbed to illness and died on January 16, 1864 at age 30.
Gilbert Swart – Gilbert D. Swart was born about 1842/1843 in Indiana. He enlisted in Company I of the 48th Indiana Infantry on January 2, 1862 and was promoted to full Captain of CO I on March 1, 1865. Gilbert mustered out with the regiment at Louisville on July 15, 1865. His pension history reflects he filed in 1866 as an invalid and died in July 1868 at the age of 25 years, 10 months and three days.
Ethelbert H. Abraham – Ethelbert H. Abraham was born about 1809 in Fayette County, Penn. He enlisted as a Private into Company F of the 11th Regiment PA Reserve Infantry (40th PA Volunteers) on September 30, 1861 and was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant in October 1861. He was discharged in May 1862 due to illness and it is suggested that Ethelbert's death on August 9, 1865, was due in part as a result of wounds he received during his service. Sergeant Abraham and his wife, Mary Roderick Abraham, are buried at Eden Cemetery in Topeka. Mary has no headstone whatsoever so in honor of her devotion and sacrifice her epitaph has been included on Ethelbert’s supplemental headstone.
John H. Stoner – John Stoner was born November 18, 1814 in Johnstown, N.Y. A blacksmith by trade, he took up residence near Topeka in LaGrange County, where he married Caroline Putnam. John enlisted on October 15, 1861 as a musician (specifically as a fifer) into CO H of the 44th Indiana Infantry. Plagued by chronic gastroenteritis, he spent much of his service in hospitals and was discharged about September 1, 1863. He died at his home on September 28, 1863.
Lafayette Parks – Lafayette Parks enlisted as a musician on November 22, 1861 into the 44th Indiana Infantry, CO E. Born in Indiana in 1842, he was age 19 when he joined to save the Union. Lafayette died on June 30, 1863 at Louisville, Ky. – succumbing to chronic gastroenteritis. His large private monument, now 151 years old, has broken off its base and is illegible. The Veterans’ Headstone Project, along with Lafayette's 3rd great-grandnephew Bryan McCoy (president of the LaGrange County Historical Society), was able to obtain a new headstone provided by the VA Memorial Services Program.
Sidener Cemetery in
Van Buren Township
John Airgood – John Airgood was born February 24, 1834 in New York. As of 1850 he was living in Elkhart County, Ind., with his mother and five siblings. On January 26, 1858 he married Caroline Kreigh in Kosciusko County, Ind. John enlisted on September 24, 1861 into the 30th Regiment IN Infantry, CO C. After serving his three years in the 30th, he transferred to the U.S. Veteran Reserve Corps on April 10, 1864. John suffered from one of the most common and very devastating diseases – chronic diarrhea – which he contracted while at Camp Nevin, Ky. Engaged in farming after the war, he lived the rest of his days with his family in LaGrange County. John Airgood died on August 18, 1894 at age 59 and is buried next to his daughter Nellie May in Sidener Cemetery, Van Buren Township.
During the excavation of John Airgood’s headstone site, Chris Speicher unearthed John’s original tiny marker. This small monument was reset along with John’s supplemental headstone.
Jackson Paight– Jackson Paight was born in Pennsylvania in 1835. In 1860 he was living in Van Buren Township, LaGrange County, with his parents and siblings. He mustered into Company G of the 48th Regiment, IN Infantry, on February 4, 1862 and after serving his three years, mustered out with the Regiment at Louisville, Ky., on July 15, 1865.
The 48th regiment was organized at Goshen, Ind., in the fall of 1861, and was mustered in January 28, 1862.
Jackson Paight returned to Van Buren Township where he resided with his wife Mary and three children. He died at the very young age of 37 on June 5, 1872.
George O. Nimocks – George Nimocks was born in 1847 in Michigan. On Christmas Eve, 1863, he enlisted at Bronson, Mich., in to the 7th Michigan Infantry, CO C and mustered January 5, 1864 to serve the Union in the Civil War. He was wounded at the battles of Spotsylvania and Second Deep Bottom. George was discharged at Detroit on May 18, 1865. George's wife Anna died at age 48 and his young son, Lewie, at age 8. George passed on November 8, 1899 at the age of 52, and is buried in the family plot at Greenwood Cemetery, LaGrange.
Private Nimocks’ supplemental headstone was placed next to his small grave marker.
Joseph Zook– Joseph Zook was born in 1830 in Mahoning County, Ohio. He relocated to LaGrange County in 1854. Joseph enlisted for service in the Civil War on August 15, 1862 into the 100th Indiana Infantry, CO C and was given the duties of “wagoner” on an ammunition train. In 1863 he contracted typhoid fever and an inflammatory condition of the eyes – this latter disease eventually led to blindness. Joseph mustered out on June 8, 1865 in Washington, D.C. He died on December 10, 1905 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, LaGrange.
Peter Van Norman– Peter Van Norman (also spelled “Vannorman”) was born in Elkhart County on June 14, 1844. Pvt. Van Norman died in LaGrange County on December 8, 1901 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, LaGrange. Peter responded to his country’s call during the Civil War and he mustered in to the 48th Indiana Infantry, CO G, on January 16, 1862 and mustered out on July 15, 1865 at Louisville, Ky.
David Brady– Another veteran of the “Persimmon Regiment,” 100th IN, CO C, David was born in Crawford County, Ohio on December 28, 1831. David and his family moved to LaGrange County in 1850 and was engaged in farming. He enlisted on August 15, 1862 and mustered out on June 12, 1863 and was subsequently discharged on September 3, 1863 due to paralysis – his left leg was essentially useless. David died on January 2, 1895 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, LaGrange. His obituary appeared in the LaGrange Standard on January 10, 1895 and a small portion reads as follows: “He shared in all the marches and engagements of this company until he was entirely disabled from further service. In this services was the campaign under General Grant that culminated in the capture of Vicksburg.”
Valentine Brown – Valentine Brown was born in Virginia about 1820. He mustered into CO H of the 44th IN Infantry on November 22, 1861. He was promoted to full Corporal and mustered out on September 14, 1865. Nicknamed “Tine,” Corporal Brown suffered from rheumatism and chronic bronchitis contracted during his service. Like many Civil War veterans, Valentine was dependent on a popular painkiller that was prescribed to him during service. Since the concept of dosing drugs and monitoring for their addictive side effects was not common practice, Valentine’s life was cut short from an excessive amount of his pain medication. Valentine's son Theordore "Dora" Brown served in the 100th IN CO C (the Persimmon Regiment) and he received a much overdue new headstone in 2012. Father and son are buried next to each other at Greenwood Cemetery.