Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 8, 2011

Service honors Civil War soldiers

BOYNE CITY — Two Indian Civil War sharpshooters buried a century ago in unmarked graves in Boyne City finally can rest in peace under long overdue head stones.

John Jacko and William Isaacs finally received their full-fledged Grand Army of the Republic memorial service and grave dedication ceremony on Saturday at Maple Lawn Cemetery, thanks to the Robert Finch Camp No. 14 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The hour-long service came complete with flags, wreaths, rifle salutes, men in Civil War uniforms, several women in 1860s-style dresses and hats, sabers and Civil War replica Springfield rifles.

Descendants and friends of John Jacko's family also paid tribute with a drum circle and healing song before the service began. Jacko descendant Scott Schwander and son, Walker, played "Amazing Grace" on Indian flutes.

More than 100 people in all attended the event — more than 50 family members and friends of all ages and about the same number of SUVCW members, the Boyne City American Legion and the Eagletown VFW from Leelanau County.

Jacko, born and raised in Northport, and Isaacs, of Saginaw, were members of Co. K of the Michigan 1st Sharpshooters, the only all-Indian unit in the Union Army east of the Mississippi. Both lived in Charlevoix County at the time of their deaths — Isaacs on March 16, 1907, in Boyne City, and Jacko a month later on April 21 in Charlevoix County's Evangeline Township. Jacko was a member of the GAR post in Horton Bay, while Isaacs was a charter member of the Wolverine post in Cheboygan County.

Both graves were found two years ago by Chris Czopek, who has researched Co. K soldiers since the 1990s as part of the SUVCW grave registration project. Czopek, who compiled that information in his 2010 self-published book, "Who Was Who in Company K," spoke during the ceremony.

Jacko enlisted in Co. K, on Feb. 14, 1865, at Grand Rapids after his father, Jacko Penaiswanquot, who also served in Co. K., was captured and died in Andersonville Prison in Georgia. John Jacko mustered out on July 28, 1865, in Washington, D.C., and lived after the war in Horton Bay.

Isaacs, a member of the Swan Creek-Black River bands near Saginaw, joined Co. K on May 19, 1863, in Isabella County and served until July 28, 1865. He fought in some of the fiercest battles — Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Petersburg in Virginia — and was wounded twice, according to pension records. A gunshot hit his right leg in 1864. Another time, a cannon ball dropped between his legs. It didn't explode but dirt flew into his face, seriously injuring his eyes and leading to lifelong vision difficulties.

Overall, about 140 Odawa and Ojebwe Indians from Michigan served as sharpshooters in Co. K. About half came from native villages stretching along Lake Michigan from Pentwater to the Straits of Mackinac.

Doris Winslow said she had grown up knowing that her great-great-grandfather and also his father, Jacko Penaisqanquot, had been Civil War sharpshooters but didn't know where they were buried or that they served in Co. K.

"The significance of this has been amazing in our family," she said. "The men of our family have served in the military in every war since then."

Schwander, a member of the Grand Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and a 20-year Grand Traverse sheriff's deputy, said it was an honor to pay tribute to a Civil War soldier, especially a native veteran.

"We saw an eagle near East Jordan on our way up, and I knew it would be a good day," he said.

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