HARTFORD, S.D. (KELO) — People will gather in Hartford this weekend to honor a Civil War veteran who’s waited 135 years for his own grave marker. A dedication ceremony will take place at the Hartford Cemetery on Saturday in memory of Private Charles Lansing who died back in 1888.
This cemetery, located on the edge of Hartford, is the final resting place for at least 29 Civil War veterans.
“They come from about a dozen states,” Siouxland Heritage Museums Director Bill Hoskins said.
Among them is Private Charles Lansing, who moved to Dakota Territory to become a homesteader after serving in a Minnesota infantry unit during the Civil War.
“And in November of 1888, he was a farmer in Grand Meadow Township and he was bringing his threshing machine home from work in the field and got caught in a sleet storm and contracted pneumonia and died,” Hoskins said.
Lansing was buried in the Hartford Cemetery with only a cement slab containing his initials.
“I suspect, originally, it was the family’s choice,” Hoskins said.
But now, after 135 years, Lansing finally has his official military headstone. It was installed just last month. A grant from the Daughters of the American Revolution paid for the foundation. The marker was provided by the VA for free.
“They sent us a headstone. You could choose. We chose the Civil War style. The first one was broken. But they sent us another,” Sandy Dean of Hartford, SD said.
Honoring the service of Civil War veterans is personal for Sandy Dean.
“Actually, my great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. His brother died in one of the Confederate prisons. They were from Vermont at that time,” Dean.
Each of the Civil War veterans’ graves tells a story of sacrifice to preserve the Union. Their memories now preserved in this quiet hillside cemetery where a grateful community can pay their respects.
“And I really feel personally, that as long as you’re remembered, you’re truly not dead,” Hoskins said.
The dedication service will take place at one p.m. this Saturday and will include Civil War re-enactors.
Hoskins will also lead a walking tour of other veterans’ graves.
Organizers haven’t been able to locate any of Lansing’s relatives, but they’re hoping some of them might attend the event.