Become a Member

contact our Department Junior Vice Commander 

Alan Kirshen, DJVC 

P.O. Box 635

Red Oak, Iowa 51566  






With sadness I report the passing of Real Daughter Rachel Perine of Parkersburg, West Virginia on Friday, September 9, 2016 at the age of 100. She is survived by her son Edwin Sheila, husband Benjamin H. and son Benjamin D. having preceded her. Rachel was born on March 8, 1916 to Harvey and Virginia Elliott Smith and grew up in Doddridge County, West Virginia. She was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Rachael was 13 in 1929 when her father died at the age of 83. Harvey enlisted in Company A of the 14th (West) Virginia Volunteer Infantry at the age of 17 in August 1862. The regiment defended the Baltimore and Ohio railroad line and took part in the skirmishes at New Creek and Burlington. He was captured at Cloyd’s Mountain, Virginia on May 9, 1864, when he refused to leave his wounded cousin. He spent 6 months as a POW, including 20 days in Andersonville, and lost his eye site in his right eye after it became infected with sand. Following the War, Harvey returned to Doddridge County where he ran a large farm that included gas and oil tracts and helped raise 14 children.

It is ordered that the National Web site, the Charters of all Departments and Camps and
membership badges be draped in black for a period of 30 days from the date of this General Order.

Ordered this 8th day of March 2017.

Donald L. Martin
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War


General Order # 18
SERIES 2016-2017
12 March 2017


It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of Past Commander-in-Chief Elmer F. (Bud) Atkinson.
Born on July 4, 1924, he resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania all his life. In 1938, he joined the Anna
M. Ross Camp #1, SUVCW in Philadelphia and served as Commander-in-Chief from 1993-1994.
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bud enlisted in the Army, served for four years in an
armored unit in the European theatre and remained in the Active Army Reserves for 20 additional years before retiring with the rank of Sergeant Major. In the early 1980's Bud founded the 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Sons of Veterans Reserve (SVR) and eventually rose to the rank of Colonel commanding the SVR 2nd Military District. He retired from this post in 1997 and began service as Inspector General of the SVR.

Employed as a professional firefighter by the city of Philadelphia, Bud retired after 24 years to become
the Manager of an air conditioning company. He subsequently worked as the Assistant Building
Supervisor for a large insurance company. His final retirement was in 1986.

He assumed the presidency of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Civil War Museum and Library
in Philadelphia in 1982, under his guidance; the Board was eventually able to open the museum to the
public for tours and lectures. He served for ten years on the Board of Directors of the Frankford
Historical Society in Philadelphia; was a Life member of the Disabled American Veterans; Life member
of the National Rifle Association; and a member of the American Legion; Boy Scout Merit Badge
Counselor and Pennsylvania Hunter Safety Instructor.

I hereby order that the SUVCW National Website and the Charters of all Departments and Camps be
draped and that all Brothers attach a black mourning ribbon to their membership badges. This shall
remain so for a period of 30 days.

Ordered this 12th Day of March 2017,

                   Jonathan Davis                                                                                     Donald L. Martin
          Secretary, National Order                                                                        Commander-In-Chief
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War                                        Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War


_   _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _


 134th Annual Encampment of the Allied Orders

of the

 Department of Iowa



Friday, April 7, 2017    3 pm


The Kinsman Camp will conduct the Last Soldier Dedication Ceremony at the Atlantic Cemetery for the Cass County Last Soldier, Adnah Bullock. 

The grave is located on the West side of the cemetery across Hwy 71 from the bowling alley.




The Kinsman Auxiliary is hosting a welcome/hospitality room at the hotel on Friday after the

Last Soldier Dedication.   Refreshments for travelers checking into the hotel

before they head out to dinner.




Saturday, April 8, 2017



Encampment 9am - 3pm



Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief Don Shaw will be in attendance.


                                                American Legion Memorial Building, 201 Poplar Street, Atlantic, Iowa

American Legion Memorial Building



                                                           America's Best Value Inn & Suites (formerly Super8)

                                                           1902 East 7th Street, Atlantic, Iowa 50022
                                                           (right on Highway 6 - The G.A.R. Highway) 
                                                           $81.57 w/tax    Must reserve 30 days prior
Banquet 5:30pm
The Encampment Banquet will be Saturday Evening at 5:30pm at Wietzels restaurant located right next door to the hotel at 1904 E. 7th Street.  Weitzels has a private party room available at no charge (for more than 15 guests).  We will have a limited menu of about 4 options (chicken, steak, seafood) ranging in price from about $13-18.  Wietzels will bill orders separately at the time of the banquet, so we do not need to collect money ahead of time. 
We need to have an approximate count for the restaurant by March 31st.
I would like to invite all SUVCW & Auxiliary who are planning to attend to stay for the Saturday evening banquet. More information will be coming soon, but we will need an approximate headcount for the hosting restaurant by the end of March.

It is a little different this year in that we are not asking for money up front - you will pay your own bill at the restaurant. However, because we are reserving the party room on a Saturday evening, we are going to be limited on a menu and the reason for the approximate headcount. Beef, chicken, fish and pasta entrees will be on the menu and prices will range about $13-18 depending on your choice.

Besides the food and brotherhood, the banquet will also feature:


> A special guest speaker we know you will enjoy.


> A little Civil War trivia game for a chance to win a prize.


> A chance to bid on an old GAR Highway marker sign that once was posted along Highway 6 in Iowa.


Please spread the word to the members of your camps to be on the watch for more information and to let me know how many are planning to attend the banquet.


Thank you!

Dan Rittel


2017 Encampment Banquet Committee
Dept. of Iowa SUVCW


Dan Rittel

Robert Stewart McGeehon

"Uncle Mac"

          With the assistance of Dan Rittel, the Iowan in the “Mary Bowditch Forbes” video  has been identified as Robert Stewart McGeehon.  McGeehon was a member of the Sam Rice Post #6, Atlantic, Iowa, and can be seen at 3:30, 5:24 and 6:15 through 8:22 during the video.

          McGeehon was born May 18, 1839, near Enon Valley in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, the second of nine children.  He enlisted as a Private in Company “I”, 134th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in July of 1862 and mustered into service on August 19.  They were taken to Harrisburg where they were given their uniforms and then sent to Washington for their first meal, two slices of dry bread and a pint cup of black coffee.  They laid in camp at Arlington Heights for some time and then forced marched to Antietam, arriving after the battle had ended.  From there they went to Fredericksburg, then Chancellorsville. At Fredericksburg while in support of a battery, they were ordered to charge the enemy.  They were told to lie down until the battery had fired and then charge.  Theirs was the last charge of the battle; he did not hear the order to fall back. When he “did” turn, a bullet struck his bayonet, knocking the rifle from his hand.  Running, he grabbed it and returned to the ranks. He was wounded at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863, hastily brought into the line of battle, and under attack, while loading his rifle, he ran his ramrod through his right hand.   Reluctantly going, he was ordered to the hospital for two weeks.  Company “I”s term of enlistment expired and they were discharged at Harrisburg on May 26.  

          His service records list him as Stewart Robert McGeehon.  In his G.A.R. file is a card upon which he states: “My real name is Robert Stewart McGeehon, but when the officers made out the pay roll they got my name wrong and I went through the service as Stewart R. McGeehon”.  

           He came to Atlantic, Iowa in 1868 and became a carpenter, a trade which he had learned from his father.  McGeehon built many of the first homes in Atlantic.   In 1883, he open a grocery store, retiring in 1904, residing at 801 Poplar Street.  

          He was a member of the Iowa Division of the National Association of Civil War Musicians, playing the bass drum. They performed at the Iowa State Fair for many years and at several National Encampments of the Grand Army.  Just before the Parade at the 1935 Department Encampment at Waterloo, McGeehon suffered a foot injury at the hotel, which hampered his marching ability.  He was 96, and the oldest musician in the nation in 1935....While there have been many who were musicians during the war a goodly number of soldiers took up the fife and drum after being mustered out. A drummer quite familiar in Iowa for many years was "Uncle Mac" McGeehon, of Atlantic, who fell in love with the big bass drum after the close of the war. He was a prominent business man, but at the Iowa State fairs he was prominent with his "Old Soldiers Drum Corps." On account of his age and his long white beard he was a real feature. In 1936, on May 18, he passed his 97th year, but in June he played his bass drum at the encampment in Des Moines with all his old time vigor and enthusiasm. He answered the final roll call on August 10 of that year. We all knew how much "Uncle Mac" loved his bass drum; and in 1924 the national encampment was to be held in Boston the same week as the Iowa State fair. The drum corps had agreed to play at the fair but "Uncle Mac" wanted to go to Boston so he could visit his old home near by, so it was arranged for him to go but leave his drum. But he said if he went the old bass drum had to go along, and the drum went along. The National Drum Corps, with sixty-five members, marched in the Boston parade and there was but one from Iowa. He was placed on the outside of the line and on his big drum was the inscription, "Iowa Dept. G. A. R." The Boston papers in their account stated "what a fine drum corps Iowa had in the parade." "Uncle Mac" had the laugh on his comrades when he returned and told how much Iowa would have missed had he not taken his drum along....

          Robert McGeehon died August 10, 1936, and is buried at the Atlantic Cemetery, Atlantic, Iowa.  His funeral was conducted by the local American Legion Post under the direction of the WRC and the LGAR.  He was 97 years, 2 months and 2 days.

“There was something infinitely grand about this 97 year old veteran, who until the last few weeks went about his daily rounds of the city and was a familiar figure.  He was a living example of how fine a thing it is to grow old gracefully.  He was philosophical in his views of life and death and disposed to accept what the fates dealt out to him without complaint….We of the present generation have had a privilege generations to come will not enjoy, in that we have been permitted to personally know many of the men who laid down their future upon the altar of their county in 1861 and carried to a victorious close the most sanguinary struggle in the history of the world.”





McGeehon's drum is now

on display at the

Cass County Historical Museum

Griswold, Iowa

 Keokuk County Freedom Rock

What Cheer, Iowa

       Like many counties in Iowa they have some great Veteran stories ranging all the way back to the Civil War.  The front (road facing) side of this Freedom Rock features the GAR or Grand Army of the Republic. The GAR was a fraternal organization composed of the veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marines and the Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War for the Northern/Federal forces. There were many GAR Veterans who settled back in Iowa after the war and Keokuk County was no exception. In fact, there was even one man who had the honor of escorting President Abraham Lincoln in and out of the capitol. After reading the stories and seeing the rock I knew I wanted to create a tribute to these heroes. I painted a Union soldier and an aged GAR Veteran with their GAR ribbon/medal between them. I think it turned out to be a powerful image along with a quote they often used

       On the back side is a tribute to some local Veterans who represent a few different eras of service. Ronald Shirlaw had distinguished service in both WWII and Korea. He earned the Silver Star, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star and Prisoner of War Medal. Ronald was captured by communist forces after he was shot down over North Korea, and was held as a Prisoner of War until his release during Operation Big Switch at the end of the war. I represented Ronald by painting his photo and then behind him creating a POW scene with his plane crash landing in the background. Like most of my work it is not only for the local guys but also a nod to all those who were, and are, POW/MIA. Gary Ferns, a decorated Vietnam Veteran, retired after 21 years of service in the US Army as a Special Forces officer. He earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. I painted a photo of Gary along with a Green Beret in action and a Vietnam background. Emery Kerr was a medic in WWII and the photo I used of him was a photo of him in action in Sicily. This pic speaks volumes and it was sad to find out that he was killed in a crash not long after returning from the war while attending a relatives funeral.

       What Cheer is a town determined to not let their town fade away and is working on many projects including their impressive Opera House which is right next to the rock. You’ll have to make the trip to see this one and I hope you enjoy it.
Big thank you to our Veterans and those currently serving.. you are my inspiration.


Ray Sorensen

The Freedom Rock®


Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has proclaimed September 28th, 2016, as "Grand Army of the Republic Highway Day" in Iowa, to honor the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Army of the Republic.  It was on that day in 1947 that Governor Blue signed the original proclamation.



WHEREAS, the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was founded in 1866 by and for Union veterans of the Civil War for the purposes of preserving and strengthening the bonds of brotherhood among the veterans and assisting their former comrades in need and the widows and children of those who had fallen; and


WHEREAS, membership of the Department of Iowa Grand Army of the Republic grew to more than 20,000 Union Civil War veterans and 439 G.A.R. posts had been organized across the state at its peak in the 1890s. Six of Iowa’s Governors had been members of the G.A.R. and three Iowans served as the national Commander-in Chief of the G.A.R.; and


WHEREAS, beginning in the 1930s, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War organized an effort to have U.S. Highway 6 across the United States names in honor of the Grand Army of the Republic and Iowa adopted legislation to do so with the passage of House File 227 signed by Governor Robert Blue on April 29, 1947; and


WHEREAS, on September 28, 1947, Iowa formally dedicated the Grand Army of the Republic Highway at a ceremony in Iowa City where Iowa’s two remaining Civil War veterans, James Martin and Ebenezer McMurray, along with Governor Blue unveiled the marker which was to be placed along the highway at each end of each town having had a G.A.R. post in the past; and

WHEREAS, during the dedication ceremony, Governor Blue stated, “We dedicate this highway today as a symbol of unity between these 48 states from coast to coast, to the vision of the boys of the Civil War, and to the future, for these men have left to us a heritage of freedom.” (Des Moines Register, 29 September 1947, p. 1); and


WHEREAS, over the past couple years, the Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War has been working with the Iowa Department of Transportation and the many towns along the historic 1947 route of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway to replace missing or worn and faded marker signs with new more visible signage to honor the G.A.R. and call attention to the Grand Army of the Republic Highway designation:


NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terry E. Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim September 28, 2016 as







Headstone Dedications

September 11, 2016

John Barnes and Bazel Battin, Correctionville, Iowa ...
Sonya Kostan was the local dignitary (former council person) and gave a greeting.
Jackie Westover of the Legion Auxiliary gave biographies of both John Barnes & Bazel Battin.
Flag & rifle salute by the Correctionville Legion & VFW
Taps by Eric Flynn (River Valley Music Director) & River Valley student Caitlyn Ebert
Isaac Lane, Washta, Iowa ...
Greeting by Don Parrot, Mayor of Washta
Biography of Isaac Lane by Nancy Rutter Spriggs (g-g-grandniece)
Wreath laid  laid the DAR wreath at Washta.Pilot Mound D.A.R. by Nancy Parrott,
wife of Mayor Don Parrott
Flag & rifle salute by Washta American Legion
Taps  by Eric Flynn (River Valley Music Director) & River Valley student Caitlyn Ebert

S. V. R.  Events:  Taylor County Historical Society

Civil War Exposition


On July 30, a very, very pleasant summer day, the Taylor County Historical Society hosted a "Civil War Exposition".  Dr. Rosayn Cummings had been following the activities of Kinsman Camp #23 of the SUVCW over the past several years, including the 2014 re-dedication of the Civil War monument in Bedford, the Taylor County seat.  Because of the well-documented participation of Taylor County's residents during the Civil War, she wanted to host a Civil War themed event on the grounds of the Taylor County Museum.  Dr. Cummings contacted  the commanding officer of Co. B, 10th Iowa Infantry, SVR., Capt. Carr.


Several different "stations" were manned by the Company's members, plus one from the Ladies' Auxiliary.  Those who attended this event were: Captain Carr, Sergeants Braden, Rittel and Kirshen and Corporal Weeber.  Jeanie Kirshen represented the Auxiliary. We were joined by SUVCW member Dave Thompson, who brought his 6-pounder cannon, which was a big hit with the crowd.


Almost three hundred people attended the event, which raised nearly a thousand dollars for the Museum.

Department of Iowa at the 135th National Encampment.

Taylor County Historical Society Civil War Exposition

On July 30, a very, very pleasant summer day, the Taylor County Historical Society hosted a "Civil War Exposition".  Dr. Rosayn Cummings had been following the activities of Kinsman Camp #23 of the SUVCW over the past several years, including the 2014 re-dedication of the Civil War monument in Bedford, the Taylor County seat.  Because of the well-documented participation of Taylor County's residents during the Civil War, she wanted to host a Civil War themed event on the grounds of the Taylor County Museum.  Dr. Cummings contacted  the commanding officer of Co. B, 10th Iowa Infantry, SVR., Capt. Carr.

Several different "stations" were manned by the Company's members, plus one from the Ladies' Auxiliary.  Those who attended this event were: Captain Carr, Sergeants Braden, Rittel and Kirshen and Corporal Weeber.  Jeanie Kirshen represented the Auxiliary. We were joined by SUVCW member Dave Thompson, who brought his 6-pounder cannon, which was a big hit with the crowd.

Almost three hundred people attended the event, which raised nearly a thousand dollars for the Museum.

After the event, we were given a tour of the 'round barn', which just that.  It was disassembled near Lenox, IA in 1996 and moved to its present site where it was re-erected.


Grenville M. Dodge Camp #75

1916 - 100 Years - 2016

On Saturday, June 11, 2016, members of the Grenville M. Dodge Camp #75, Department of Iowa, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War as well as members of the of Dodge Auxiliary #8, celebrated 100 years of the Camp.  A pot luck dinner was held at the Elks Lodge in Clive, Iowa.  The Dodge Camp meets at 7 P.M. the Last Wednesday of the month at the Urbandale Public Library,

3520 86th Street, Urbandale, Iowa.

Memorial Day article, Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 29,2016,  featuring Department Memorials Officer Tom Gaard and Department Junior Vice Commander Alan Kirshen

Grand Army of the Republic Monument Rededication

Oakland Cemetery, Casey, Iowa June 4, 2016

On Saturday, June 4, the People of Casey along with the 10th Iowa SVR Rededicated the newly renovated G.A.R. Monument at Oakwood Cemetery.  Originally Dedicated in 1916, this memorial had fallen into disrepair and was restored earlier this year.  Along side the monument now stands a carving of a soldier done by Dave Bussard.  Present at the ceremony was Margaret Batchelet who worked along side Amy Noll at the Department Commander's Office, Department of Iowa, Grand Army of the Republic in the State Capitol.

Memorial Day

Peoria Cemetery, Peoria, Iowa

Nathan Leonard, Drum Major 15th Iowa

Carlisle Methodist Church, Carlisle, Iowa

May 14, 2016

        On May 14, members of the 10th Iowa SVR and the Department of Iowa rededicated the GAR Stained Glass Window in the Carlisle Medthodist Church.

Riverside Schools, Oakland, Iowa

May 13, 2016

House File 2266




Section 1. Section 144.27, Code 2016, is amended to read as follows:

          144.27 Funeral director’s duty.

          1. The funeral director who first assumes custody of a dead body shall file the death certificate, obtain the personal data from the next of kin or the best qualified person or source available and obtain the medical certification of cause of death from the person responsible for completing the certification. When a person other than a funeral director assumes custody of a dead body, the person shall be responsible for carrying out the provisions of this section .

          2. a. A funeral director responsible for filing a death certificate under this section may after a period of one hundred eighty days release to the Department of Veterans Affairs the name of a deceased person whose cremated remains are not claimed by a person authorized to control the decedent’s remains under section 144C.5, for the purposes of determining whether the deceased person is a veteran or dependent of a veteran and is eligible for inurnment at a national or state veterans cemetery. If obtained pursuant to subsection 1, the funeral director may also release to the Department of Veterans Affairs documents of identification, including but not limited to the social security number, military service number, and military separation or discharge documents, or such similar federal or state documents, of such a person.

         ​  b. If the Department of Veterans Affairs determines that the cremated remains of the deceased person are eligible for inurnment at a national or state veterans cemetery, the Department of Veterans Affairs shall notify the funeral director of the determination. If the cremated remains have not been claimed by a person authorized to control the decedent’s remains under section 144C.5 one hundred eighty days after the funeral director receives notice under this paragraph “b” , all rights to the cremated remains shall cease, and the funeral director shall transfer the cremated remains to an eligible veterans organization if the eligible veterans organization has secured arrangements for the inurnment of the cremated remains at a national or state veterans cemetery. For purposes of this subsection, an “eligible veterans organization” means a veterans service organization organized for the benefit of veterans and chartered by the United States Congress or a veterans remains organization exempt from federal income taxes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that is recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs to inurn unclaimed cremated remains.

          c. A funeral director providing information or transferring cremated remains shall be immune from criminal, civil, or other regulatory liability arising from any actions in accordance with this subsection. In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs, a national or state veterans cemetery, and an eligible veterans organization shall be immune from criminal, civil, or other regulatory liability arising from any actions in accordance with this subsection. Such immunity shall not apply to acts or omissions constituting intentional misconduct.

Department of Iowa ROTC/JROTC Program  ​

Department ROTC/JROTC Coordinator Mike Rowley reports the Department has had 100% participation from all programs in the State this year.

Brother Don McGuire of the Dodge Camp presenting the Award to Cadet Tyler Laska

This years recipients are:


 Tyler D. Laska, Iowa State University, Air Force

 Patrick Hennessey, Iowa State University, Navy

 Joshua S. Dunt, Iowa State University, Army

 John C. Maxwell, University of Iowa, Air Force

 Christian Zvokell, University of Iowa, Army

 Tina Turner, University on Northern Iowa, Army

 Jordon Hamling, University of Dubuque, Army

 Chandler S. Stansberry, Ottumwa High School

 Nathan J. Mortensen, Abraham Lincoln High School, Council Bluffs

 Jax Good, Central Campus, Des Moines, Army

 to be announced, East Waterloo High School

 Sandi Mekanovic, West Waterloo High School, Air Force

 Brandon McGaughey, Central Iowa Sea Cadets

 Alexandria Gonzales, Sioux City Community High Schools, Air Force

60th Annual Lincoln Tomb Ceremony

On a beautiful spring morning the 60th Annual Lincoln Tomb Ceremony, sponsored by the SUVCW and MOLLUS, commemorating the 151st Anniversary of President Lincoln's death. took place at the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery Springfleld, lL at 10 AM on Saturday, April 16, 2016. All of the Allied Orders to the Grand Army of the Republic of the Republic were represented.  Department Commander Danny Krock placed a wreath on behalf of the Department of Iowa, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.  Ron Rittel placed a wreath on behalf of the Grenville M. Dodge Camp # 75 in memory of President Lincoln as well as to commemorate the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the Dodge Camp.  Marilyn Rittel placed a wreath from the Dodge Camp Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

133rd Annual Encampment of the

Allied Orders of the Department of Iowa

The 133rd Annual Encampment of the Allied Orders of the Department of Iowa was held Saturday, April 2nd, at the Soldiers Memorial Hall in Hampton, Iowa.  A 9 am Flag raising was attended by both the SUVCW and the ASUVCW.  The SUVCW held their meeting in the Soldiers Memorial Hall while the ASUVCW met at the Maynes Grove Lodge, we had the honor of SUVCW Commander-in-Chief Eugene Mortorff attending.


Brother Jace Bloomer; Department GAR Highway Officer, Dan Rittel; and Department Chaplain, Dennis Sasse were awarded The Commander’s Award for outstanding service to the Department and to the Order.  Department Graves Registration Officer, Roy Linn was presented with a framed autograph by Iowa’s Civil War Governor, Samuel J. Kirkwood.

Memorial Services were held in the afternoon for Brothers Chuck Wilcox and

Vern Damgaard, attended by the SUVCW and ASUVCW.


The evening meal was partaken at the Maynes Grove Lodge and afterwards a program was given centered on the 1922 GAR National Encampment in Des Moines and the Last Surviving Civil War Veteran of Franklin County, the state of Iowa and the Nation.

Coins on Headstones


      Coins on the graves of those who rest at Rock Island National Cemetery, Arsenal Island (as with all cemeteries), have a distinct meaning. “We find many, many coins on the burial markers of the military. They are sentimental things,” says groundskeeper Scott Lamb.
      “The meaning depends on the denomination of the coin. It’s a message to the deceased service person’s family that some-one was there and that some-one cared.”
      Scott has a list of what the coins mean. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that someone visited. It could be a friend or relative or someone who served in the deceased’s outfit or with whom he shared a shelter half (tent) on bivouac.
      A nickel indicates that the visitor and the deceased trained together, basic training or boot camp. A dime indicates that they served in the same battle or encounter. Leaving a quarter at the grave tells the family — or someone — that the visitor was with the service person when they were killed.
      “We just leave the coins where they were left, and finally remove them. Years ago, we didn’t leave the pennies on the stone very long because they contained copper that would leave a stain on the marker. Now, after a while, we wedge the coins in the ground alongside the stone.”
      Grave News, Newsletter of the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries
          October, November, December 2015
On a similar note:
     Some people think graveyard and cemetery mean the same, but, if we want to be a little nitpicky, we should say that graveyard is a type of cemetery, but cemetery is usually not a graveyard. To understand the difference, we need a little bit of history.
     From about the 7th century, the process of burial was firmly in the hands of the Church (meaning the organization), and burying the dead was only allowed on the lands near a church (now referring to the building), the so-called churchyard. The part of the churchyard used for burial is called graveyard, an example of which you can see in the picture.
     As the population of Europe started to grow, the capacity of graveyards was no longer sufficient (the population of modern Europe is almost 40 times higher than it was in the 7th century). By the end of the 18th century, the unsustainability of church burials became apparent, and completely new places, independent of graveyards, were devised—and these were called cemeteries.
     The etymology of the two words is also quite intriguing. The origin of “graveyard” is rather obvious; it is a yard filled with graves. However, you might be surprised to hear that “grave” comes from Proto-Germanic *graban, meaning “to dig”, and is unrelated to “gravel”.
     Of course, the word “cemetery” did not appear out of the blue when graveyards started to burst at the seams. It comes from Old French cimetiere, which meant, well, graveyard. Nevertheless, the French word originally comes from Greek koimeterion, meaning “a sleeping place”. Isn’t that poetic?


2015 Fall Monument

Rededication Tour


The Dept. of Iowa's attempt to have a ceremony in every Iowa county during the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War fell a bit short of its goal due to personnel shortages.


Nevertheless, Co. B, 10th Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry, SVR, soldiered on and completed more than their share of those ceremonies.  Over the past five years, members of the unit took part in thirty-five of these ceremonies, almost all of which were in western Iowa.


This, our last official “Tour”, covered Greene and Carroll counties on Saturday, and Guthrie, Audubon and Shelby counties on Sunday.  All but the ceremony in Audubon County was a re-dedication of a monument.  The ceremony in Audubon County was a “Last Soldier” ceremony.


Our first stop was in the cemetery at Jefferson, where were were assisted by Boy Scout Troop 534.  We were greeted by Mayor Craig Berry and a nice-sized crowd.  Ms. Barb Labate, member of American Legion Post #11 read the poem “When the Boys in Blue Are Gone.”


The re-dedication ceremony was carried out by Capt. Mike Carr, Commanding C   o. B, 10th Iowa, SVR, with 2nd Lt. Dennis Sasse acting as Officer of the Day.  Mrs. Denise Sasse, the Auxilary's Chaplain performed that function during the ceremony..  Sgt. Dan Rittel acted as Master of ceremonies.  Several members of Auxiliary #23 were also present and assisted.


We were also honored to have Dept. Commander Danny Krock and wife Tammy with us, as well as Dept. Monuments Officer Tom Gard.


Although in need of a good cleaning (something the local citizens are planning on doing), the monument was in good shape, and the mayor admitted that he had more of an appreciation for it now that he was made aware of its significance.


At the ceremony in Carroll, we were honored by the presence of the the Camp's oldest member, James Grettenberg, who is just shy of his 95th birthday.  Mayor pro-tem Eric Jensen greeted us very warmly.  Although the crowd was small, the dozen or so members of American Legion Post #7 provided a full rifle squad and bugler. 


Bright and early on Sunday, we traveled to Guthrie Center, where we were greeted by Mayor Dan Kunkle and a rifle squad and bugler from American Legion Post #7.


Our next stop was Viola Township Cemetery in the northeast corner of Audubon County.  Sadly,  Audubon County doesn't have a Civil War monument, one of about a half-dozen counties in the state without one.  Therefore, we did the next best thing- we honored the very last Civil War veteran in the County, John Bonwell, who was over a hundred years old when he passed on.  One of the very few spectators, a 90-year old WW II veteran knew the deceased.


Our last stop was Harlan, Iowa in Shelby County.     This is a very large, beautifully kept monument on the south side of the Courthouse Square.  Here, again, the crowd was small, but we were honored to have members of American Legion Post #150 and VFW Post #941 assist with posting the colors.


Those who took part in our ceremonies from Co. B, 10th Iowa, SVR, were: Capt. Mike Carr, 2nd Lt. Dennis Sasse, Sergeants. Dan Rittel, and Alan Kirshen, Corporals Roy Linn and John Weeber, and Privates Charles Boeck, Dave Hancock, John Butcher and Jim Grettenberg.  From Auxiliary #23: Mary Rittel, Denise Sasse, Jeanie Kirshen, and Bev Carr.


Submitted by Capt. Mike Carr







Guthrie Center









Carte de visite by P.H. Warner of Hopkinton, Iowa. On Nov. 17, 1865, in Hopkinton, Iowa, a crowd of soldiers and townspeople gathered to dedicate a monument to local men who had fallen during the war, including students who had attended Lenox Collegiate Institute. Peter H. Warner, a New York transplant who billed himself as an artist, druggist,, watchmaker and jeweler, photographed the event on camera. This historic Warner image commemorates the occasion.

The Lenox story is not complete without this anecdote, transcribed from page 256 of the History of Delaware County, Iowa, and Its People, Volume 1, by John F. Merry:

The first president of the institution was the Rev. Jerome Allen, Ph. D., who occupied the chair from 1859 to 1863 and for two additional years additional acted as financial agent and teacher of natural science and English literature … Next came the soldier president, the Rev. J.W. McKean, A.M., 1863-1864. One morning a recruiting officer attended chapel service and after a strong and noble appeal by President McKean for the young men to obey the call of President Lincoln to enlist in the army of the Union, he informed the students that a recruiting officer was present and all who wished to enlist should arise. All arose and enlisted but one and he was too young. The faculty and girl students were in tears and President McKean closed the tender scene by saying, "Well, boys, if all of you are going, I am going too." President McKean resigned May 6, 1864, and entered the army as captain of a company in which all but two of the students enlisted. The work of the institute was suspended till the fall term. July 9, 1864, Captain McKean died in the army at Memphis, Tenn. A fine monument on the college campus commemorates his name and the names of others who gave their lives for the preservation of the Union. This monument at a cost of over fifteen hundred dollars was dedicated November 17, 1865, which makes it the oldest monument in Iowa and probably in the entire United States erected by public subscription in honor of the soldiers of the Civil War.

courtesey of Robert Kennedy-Facebook


Print Print | Sitemap
© Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War