Cemeteries keep SW Colo. legacy from Civil War

Monday, July 4, 2011 6:42 PM
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John L. Duncan, Confederate soldier, is buried in Sunnyside Cemetery at Lewis. Pvt. Duncan’s headstone, furnished by the Veterans Administration, has the Southern Cross, service information and CSA signifying Confederate States of America and states birth and death dates.
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Wilson “Wilkes” Nash, Confederate soldier, buried in the Nash Cemetery in the Disappointment Valley. Mr. Nash’s marker is the bronze medallion type imbedded in cement. This type of recognition of his service with the Army of the Confederacy in the Civil War was used and placed beside the previous headstone for Mr. Nash.
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George W. Wilemon, Confederate soldier, buried in Lavender Cemetery in the Disappointment Valley. Mr. Wilemon’s marker is the bronze medallion type and imbedded in cement as his grave had a headstone; therefore, this type of recognition of his services was used. This medallion with the star indicates his service in the Army of the Confederacy.
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James May, Union Soldier, buried at Sunnyside Cemetery at Lewis. Mr. May’s headstone has the shield signifying that he was a Union soldier and his service information. This stone was obtained prior to adding the birth and death date information on the stones.

This year the United States is observing the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861-1865). The Montezuma County Historical Society has printed three volumes of our “Great Sage Plain to Timberline: Our Pioneer History.” For the next few issues we will have short stories about the Civil War soldiers who came into our area. Volume 4 of “Great Sage Plain to Timberline” will have more information on these men with the book to be available in the fall.

Following the end of the Civil War, the 1870s saw rapid growth in Colorado, due partly to the end of the Civil War and the development of agriculture and stock-raising after the Native Americans had been removed to Oklahoma. They came from all walks of life ... professional men, stone masons, ranchers, carpenters, farmers, miners and stockmen, to name a few. Many of these men remained in the area and became known as the early pioneers of our country. Others left the area. In 1994 the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) undertook the project of researching and marking the graves (if needed) of the Civil War soldiers. After 10 years of research, their original list of 35 soldiers had grown to over 200 names. Previously unacknowledged Civil War veteran markers totaling 22 were installed in the various cemeteries through the help of interested persons. If the family had installed a headstone, another type of Civil War marker/medallion was used, as the government would not furnish the military type marker. In 2004, DAR ladies completed the project. Some graves were still unmarked as the necessary information could not be obtained. Information was given to Jim Davenport, the Graves Registration Chairman for the Union Army, who was able to get the additional information needed for the government headstone and to mark more graves.

The government markers for the Union soldiers have a large shield engraved in the marker with the name, grade rank and authorization organization, while the government markers for the Confederate soldiers have a “cross type of emblem with a circle” with the name, grade and rank, followed by the letters “C.S.A.” It was interesting to note when one served with the Union army and was injured he received a small pension for his injuries ($6 to $22) from the government and also received discharge from the service. No evidence has been found of a government pension being paid to Confederate soldiers, but these men may have received a pension from the State from which they served. In lieu of a discharge from the service in the Confederacy, evidence of a “pardon was granted.” The birth and death dates were not shown on the earlier markers; however, if these dates were found they are also noted.

This issue will begin with the soldiers buried in the Disappointment Valley, with a short story on the individuals. The cemeteries are located on County Road D in Dolores County. Space permitting, soldiers buried in other cemeteries will be printed with short stories about them.

Wilson (Wilkes) Nash (1836-1887). Soldier. Army of the Confederacy. State of Missouri. Before the war Mr. Nash had the widespread reputation of being a trainer of thoroughbreds and a fine judge of horseflesh. Owners sought him out for advice in upgrading their racing stables. While living in Missouri, his health was of great concern and it was decided he should leave the humid Missouri climate and head for the dry mountain air that was the only known cure for lung disease. He first arrived in Colorado near Pueblo — then came to the Pine River Country — later, wintering near Farmington, New Mexico and on to the Big Bend country and the Disappointment Valley. In 1879, Mr. Nash led a small scouting party into the Disappointment Valley looking for grazing land. The explorers found all that they hoped to find. Mr. Nash and his family had a cow camp on the stream just northwest of the present site of Groundhog Reservoir. As the winter of 1887 approached, they hurried to move their cattle back to the Disappointment Valley. Wilkes became ill but refused to give up the moving of the cattle. Due to the condition of his lungs, he caught pneumonia and died at cow camp at the age of 51 years. He is buried in the Nash Cemetery in Disappointment Valley.

George Washington Wilemon (1839-1912). Soldier. Army of the Confederacy — state unknown. George Wilemon was born in Missouri. In 1901 he came with his family to Trinidad, Colorado, traveling in a covered wagon. After leaving Trinidad about 1904, the family went by train to Midway, where he purchased another team and went to Norwood. The next winter, they moved to the Disappointment Valley area near Cedar, Colorado and then on up to Disappointment Creek. His daughter, Bessie, helped him build two dugouts to live in. The dugouts were built of used green pinyon and cedar logs. In addition to building the dugouts to live in, the family worked in hay fields to help supplement their income. George W. had heart trouble and was unable to do much physical work. During the winter of 1912, George Wilemon died and his wife Sarah put his body in a snowbank until she could notify his “lodge for assistance” with a proper funeral. But before the weather warmed up, the neighbors responded and he was buried in the Lavender Cemetery in the Disappointment Valley. Due to the generosity of the neighbors, Sarah Wilemon and her daughters survived the winter. Sarah later remarried and moved from the dugouts on Ryman Creek.

Arriola Cemetery

14369 Road 33, Dolores, Colo.

Asa Lewis (Dennis) Gibson (1847-1926). Private in Army of the Confederacy. Served in the 6th Tennessee Cavalry.

McElmo Canyon — Lamb Cemetery

12493 Rd. G., Cortez, Colo. (private property)

John Ferren/Ferrin (1842-1932). Enlisted in Civil War – age 19. Mentioned as a Civil War soldier in a news article in 1932. No further information found. Mr. Ferrin is interred near the Lamb Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

(First name unknown) Woods ( -1921). Mentioned as a Civil War soldier in news article. He was living in the Lamb home and is buried in an unmarked grave near the Lamb Cemetery.

Mitchell Cemetery

15143 Road G., Cortez, Colo. (private property).

Porter Mitchell (1842-1906). Sgt. in Union Army. Co. K, 8th Regular Missouri Cavalry. Pensioned for injuries $16. Mitchell Springs (below Cortez) was owned by his family prior to their moving to the McElmo Canyon area.

Sylvan Cemetery

25485 Road 9, Pleasant View, Colo.

Charles Dow (1842-1930). Union Army. Co. I – 29th Iowa Infantry. His son, Courtney Dow, was the postmaster at Spargo and a store owner. Mr. Dow probably made his home with his son and died of pneumonia at age 88 years. Mr. Dow assisted in the store when health permitted.

Fairview Cemetery

16904 Road Z, Yellow Jacket, Colo.

A. Lincoln Bainter ( -1917). Corporal — Union Army. Served in 1st U.S.V.Cavalry. In 1917, he sold his interest in the Yellow Jacket Mercantile Company. He also served as postmaster while in the mercantile business. His home was in the Lewis, Colorado area.

Sunnyside Cemetery

21284 Road W., Lewis, Colo.

John L. Duncan (1845-1937). Private — Army of the Confederacy. Co. I — 4th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry. His family has a bronze medallion which has the words inscribed on back “Southern Cross Of Honor.” It is believed this has been presented to him as a medal of valor by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The unit Mr. Duncan served with had become detached or had been split under other officers near the close of the war. It is uncertain where he was at the end of the actual fighting, but Mr. Duncan was captured near Nashville, Tennessee.

William B. Ebbert (1846-1927). First Lieut., Union Army — Co. H. — 2nd, West Virginia. Served in Colorado State House of Representatives from Pueblo County 1889-90. In March 1889, he voted for the bill to establish Montezuma County. He served as State Representative for Otero County in 1907-08. He moved with his family to Arriola and served in the Colorado State House of Representatives from Montezuma County in 1911-12. Mr. Ebbert was very active in the formation of the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company and other community activities.

Leicester Tulles (1846-1933). Born in Ohio. Private in Union Army. Served in Co. B – 47th Iowa Infantry. In 1932, a newspaper article mentioned “Lee” Tulles as one of the four remaining Civil War soldiers living in the area. Mr. Tulles lived at Ackmen, Colorado.


“Looking Back” articles in the future will list the Civil War veterans buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery at Mancos, Peoples (old Dolores), Summit Ridge and Cortez Cemeteries. Many of the veterans left the area but information will be published (if known) on this group of men as the Historical Society feels they were a definite part of the early pioneers. This group of stories is presented by Historical Society Members, Virginia Graham (565-7767) and June Head (565-3880).

The Montezuma County Historical Society General Membership meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 21, with a history symposium to follow the meeting at 7:30 p.m. Gary Tanner of Cortez Milling will present a PowerPoint program: “The History of Cortez Milling and Blue Bird Flour.” There is no charge for the event, to take place at Hampton Hall, First United Methodist Church, 515 N. Park, Cortez. We hope you will attend, as we know you will enjoy our speaker. For further information on the membership meeting or the symposium, contact Vivienne Kenyon at 565-7714 or Kelly Wilson at 565-9242.

Volume 4 of “Great Sage Plain to Timberline: Our Pioneer History” will be available in early fall.

June Head is the Historian for the Montezuma County Historical Society. She can be contacted for comments, corrections or questions at 565-3880.