Within Osceola County an unexpected and historic grave marker from the Civil War era has been uncovered. The community is going to put together something special to commemorate the fallen soldier. Osceola County Undersheriff Justin Halladay could not believe he was seeing something like this so close to home – just one mile from his own place of residence, in fact. He has grown up in the area and has driven past the cemetery more times than he can count.
“When I brought this to the attention of the township officials,” he said, “they too did not realize it was here. If anybody did, those who did are also gone. So, it’s been forgotten.”
Last summer, Undersheriff Halladay was conducting cemetery mapping with his sons in the Ashton Cemetery. It is known that the eastern part of the cemetery hosts grave markers dating all the way back to the 1860’s. But when they found one that was close to the road, they realized it did not resemble the other grave markers.
The differences motivated Undersheriff Halladay to conduct some additional research, from which he realized that during the Civil War an obvious issue arose due to the lack of identification or dog tags used in battle. Therefore, many soldiers were killed without their passing ever being recorded. Prior to the Civil War there had been no clearly delineated procedure for burying United States soldiers.
Halladay was able to determine that the grave marker was for a Civil War soldier from the Ashton area. The undersheriff was unable to figure out how old the corpse might be, what his name was, or what he looked like. For all he knew, the soldier could have been a prisoner of war in Andersonville. Perhaps he was from Gettysburg or even Shiloh. No one has the answers to these questions, but one thing is certain – he perished fighting in the Civil War. Undersheriff Halladay said,
“He gave his life sometime during our Civil War so we could stay a nation, so we could stay as one, so there’s one flag flying over this great land – not two, three, or four. So, it’s important.”
A Korean War Veteran named Ivan Giese lives in the Ashton area. He spent about an hour on Wednesday working on cleaning up the grave marker, and he plans to construct some kind of monument to go around it. Giese feels it is an amazing thing to have this burial site right in the middle of the local area. This is a soldier that they can honor and provide some recognition for so that he is not just a forgotten person who died valiantly.
Undersheriff Halladay agreed with those sentiments. He too acknowledged that this soldier has been here for a long time, and that some recognition is long overdue. The memorial service will be conducted on Thursday and will include a military commemoration to honor to the soldier. The undersheriff’s sons will play ‘Taps’, a wreath will be laid down, and a prayer will be said. The service starts at 4 pm and all members of the public are welcome to attend to pay their respects.