Some of you may remember the blog posts I wrote about Old Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio. The first one (“When a Cemetery Dies”) was about my visit there in 2012 to try to find the graves of my great-great-grandparents, Samuel and Margaret Grice. I never did find them and the place was in very bad shape, except for the area dedicated to veterans.
The second post was about a year ago when I learned that a lot had been happening at Old Greencastle to bring it back to its former glory. I was cautiously optimistic that the changes were of a permanent nature. Having seen old cemeteries get cleaned up only to slide back into ruin, I was afraid to get my hopes up.
This week, I received an exciting email from Fred Lynch, senior vice commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, General William T. Sherman Camp #93. The gentlemen from this group have been sending me periodic updates about the cleanup efforts at Old Greencastle.
But this email contained pictures of the dramatic physical improvements made there. I wanted to share them here.
These men have been hard at work not just cleaning up and repairing the graves of veterans but those of civilians buried there as well. I was pleased as punch that they sent me a picture of some of the group, too!
One of the updates said:
Graves of 197 Civil War veterans have been identified and documented in a record available to the public. Unmarked graves of Civil War veterans were located and verified using ground penetrating radar. All Civil War veterans’ graves are marked with a GAR flag holder. Graves of veterans who served in the American Revolution, War of 1812, Indian Wars, World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam are also being marked by the SUVCW with proper flag holders.
That information got me thinking about my great-great-grandfather, Samuel Grice. I had forgotten that he indeed was a Union soldier during the Civil War as a member of the 112th Ohio Infantry. He and his brother, Henry, both signed up. I have no idea if either saw combat since many such volunteers were never called upon to serve actively. But he is listed in official records, which also indicates that both he and Henry had served in the military previously.
I would love to eventually see a marker placed for Samuel since it appears that if he ever had one, it probably got swept away by the Dayton Flood of 1913. The only way the government will provide one is if the next of kin authorizes it or a person authorized by the decedent. So I will have to look into that a little further.
On Nov. 15, Sherman Camp #93 will be holding a Remembrance Day Commemoration and Grand Army of the Republic Veterans’ Section Rededication Ceremony at Old Greencastle Cemetery. These wonderful folks have invited me to join them on this special day. I would like to go very much but because the end of the year is my husband’s busy time at work, it’s unlikely I will be able to do so.
Regardless, I am so proud of this dedicated group of men who saw a cemetery that was on its last legs and did something about it. Too often, people sit idly by waiting for someone else to come along and take action. Along with some help from additional volunteer groups, they have worked hard to restore dignity to the dead and restore a place that might have disappeared forever.
On behalf of my family, I want to thank Sherman Camp #93 for not letting Old Greencastle Cemetery die. You are my heroes.