ARLINGTON – Descendants and local genealogists gathered on Veterans Day for the re-dedication of a headstone memorializing a Civil War union soldier in Arlington and ensuring that his service is not forgotten (video).
About 50 people joined at the new tombstone of the Civil War veteran, Cpl. John L. Grant, who died 129 years ago. He was interred in 1889 at Arlington Pioneer Cemetery to the choral hymn, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,” with services at the Methodist Episcopal Church where the Mirkwood Café now stands, at Olympic Avenue and Division Street.
“Over the century, the old stone became weather-beaten, of course, but has not been forgotten by our Arlington community,” said Bill Grant, education chairman of the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society that hosted the ceremony.
Grant, no relation, shared background about the soldier and the society’s Tombstone Project in Civil War-era dress blues. He said he also wore the uniform to honor his own great grandfather who lost a leg at the battle of Fredericksburg during the Civil War, and for his grandfather who served in the Spanish American War.
Among the 53 believed to have been buried at the cemetery, four are recorded as Civil War veterans. Cpl. Grant’s is the first and only headstone above his grave in an otherwise empty field of green.
Called the “Old Soldier” by comrades and friends, Grant served in the 138th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers for the Union. He served 100 days in 1864 before being discharged at Indianapolis after a debilitating bout of dysentery.
Grant, his wife Angie and their children lived in the Oso and Arlington area in 1888, settling on the Stillaguamish River, where he farmed and resided . Two sons and a daughter preceded him in death, Bill Grant said.
SVGS president Ruth Caesar said though the base and headstone were installed Aug. 1, the society chose to wait for a date that would be more meaningful.
“Summer is a busy time, so we said Veterans Day would be a nice time to put this together,” Caesar said.
Because the old headstone was so badly deteriorated and the inscriptions illegible, the society applied to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a replacement. The city required that the society provide a base of the same quality, which cost about $420. “We thought it was very well worth it,” Caesar said.
American Legion Riders with Arlington Post 76 were among those who attended the dedication. The Arlington High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps 61st Cadet Eagle Squadron presented the colors, and cadet bugler, Lucas Gibson played “Taps” to close out the ceremony.
Wayne and Betty Pearson of Arlington, descendants of Grant’s, along with family from as far away as Oregon were moved by the re-dedication. “We’re glad to be here to honor him on Veterans Day,” Wayne said.
Another family member said they don’t really have a lot of background about the “Old Soldier” because relatives growing up didn’t say too much about the Grant family.
Pioneer Cemetery was closed in 1912. Many of the buried were moved to the Arlington Municipal Cemetery in 1903. Pioneer Cemetery is located at the end of a quiet dead-end Gifford Avenue just north of 5th Street near Terrace Park.
The cemetery was first used by white settlers in 1845 when it was part of Haller City, then later annexed by Arlington. Before that, the land had long been used as a burial site by Native Americans – the Stillaguamish – also known as Stoluckguamish, or “People of the River.” The exact number buried there remains unknown.
Bill Grant is part of the society’s Tombstone Project. Their goal is to preserve history by placing headstones on unmarked graves in Snohomish County, an effort that requires donations and volunteers. Grant said the corporal’s headstone is the first what they hope will be many more. For details, call 360-435-4838 or visit www.stillygen.org.