Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 11, 2011

Civil War soldiers at rest in Oakwood


Oakwood Cemetery was the final resting place for 20 soldiers in 1890, when the community's Civil War Soldier monument was unveiled.

Today, 259 Union and two Confederate soldiers rest in peace at Oakwood. Add the 207 soldiers buried in rural cemeteries and the total number of Civil War dead in Grand Traverse County is 468.

Another 167 soldiers are buried in Leelanau County.

The counts are kept by local Robert Finch Camp No.14 as part of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War ongoing Graves Registration Project. Camp members are still verifying numbers in Antrim and Kalkaska counties, Commander Dale Aurand said.

The SUVCW is a national organization formed in 1881 to allow sons of Civil War veterans and their grandsons of succeeding generations to carry on the work of Grand Army of the Republic,

Michigan's last living Civil War veteran, Orlando LeValley of Caro, died April 19, 1948, five months short of his 100th birthday. The last G.A.R. Post in Michigan also was in Caro -- Whiteside Post 143, which closed the same year LeValley died.

Michigan has the distinction of having two "last living Civil War veterans." Five months after LeValley died, Joseph Clovese moved from Louisiana to Pontiac to live with friends.

Born a slave on Jan. 30, 1844, in St. Bernard Parish, La., Clovese ran away at age 17 to join nearby Union soldiers and became drummer in a regiment of "colored troops."

He attended the last National Encampment of the G.A.R. in Indianapolis in 1949, one of only six to do so. Six others were too ill or feeble to make the trip. He died at Dearborn Veterans hospital on July 13, 1951. He was 107.

The G.A.R. was completely dissolved in 1956 after the death of Albert Henry Woolson, of Minnesota. The former drummer boy was the last surviving member of the Union Army. He died Aug. 2, 1956.

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