When I learned that my great-great-grandfather Samuel Davis Agin served in the Civil War, I looked forward to paying tribute to him at his final resting place in the Princeton Cemetery in Princeton, New Jersey. But when my sister Cathy and I made the trip last year, we were chagrined to find a patch of grass with no grave marker.
Davis served two tours of duty in the Civil War, signing up with the 21st New Jersey Infantry, Company H and the 38th New Jersey Infantry, Company I. His service took him from the battlefield of Antietam (fortunately arriving one day after the bloodiest battle in US history) to the operations that led to the final surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
He died in 1915 – on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war. He was survived by five children who all lived in the area. Newspaper obituaries testified that he was well known among the dwindling ranks of Civil War veterans. So how could there be no grave marker?
I had my theories. The Agin family plot was located at the end of a driveway connected to the cemetery office. I suspect that some car or truck knocked the stone down, but we’ll probably never know.
I thought it would be nice – someday – to give Davis a proper memorial. But then I met a distant cousin through this blog. Jacki Bolton, a descendant of Davis’s son Charles Augustus, wrote to say that she too had been saddened to discover there was no headstone at Davis’s grave.
Jacki and her husband John came to meet me for coffee one day and we hatched the idea of applying to the Veterans Administration for an official Civil War grave marker. The process took only a few months. The VA didn’t charge us a penny. We only had to worry about the cost of installation.
I haven’t been able to get to the cemetery yet but Jacki was kind enough to send me a photo of the headstone, erect in its proper place. She visited on Memorial Day and was touched to learn that someone had already placed a flag there.
I am looking forward to visiting myself. Jacki and I are working on a fitting ceremony. In the meantime, here is a photo courtesy of Jacki.