Early pioneers here included Civil War soldiers

Friday, Sept. 2, 2011 9:38 PM
Sgt. Joseph Sparks Sheek – Stone has CSA and Cross for his service in the Confederate Army. Cedar Grove Cemetery, Mancos.
Graves W. Cheeley – Family stone. No military type marker at gravesite for his service in the Confederate Army. Cedar Grove Cemetery, Mancos.
Harvey A. Honaker – Bronze type plaque placed at foot of family stone for service in the Confederate Army. Cedar Grove Cemetery, Mancos.
John C. Harvey – Stone has large shield engraved for his service in Union Army. Cedar Grove Cemetery, Mancos.
Samuel M. McConnell – Stone has cross in a circle with CSA on the headstone for his service in the Confederate Army. Sunset Memorial Cemetery, Summit Ridge, Dolores.

In the fall of 1874, men started coming into the Mancos Valley. They thought well of the valley and decided to remain. In 1875, more settlers came in and started clearing the land and improving their homesteads. Cattle were coming into the valley in 1876 and the summer of 1877 brought more people to make their homes there. In 1885 the Town of Mancos saw businesses established. During these years many Civil War Veterans came in to establish homes, businesses, farms, ranches, etc. As a result, Civil War soldiers are buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Mancos. This issue will feature a portion of the names of these men and their personal information, if found. When reading the early history of the area, you will find mention of some of these soldiers. For those men buried in other cemeteries (Disappointment Valley, Pleasant View, Lewis, Arriola, Yellow Jacket and the Old Dolores Cemetery), their names and stories may be found in the July/August issues of “Looking Back” in the Cortez Journal. The names of men buried in the Summit Ridge Cemetery are found in this issue.

The government markers for the Union soldiers have a large shield engraved with the name, grade rank and unit, while the government markers for the Confederate soldiers have a “cross type of emblem with a circle,” the name, grade and rank, followed by the letters “C.S.A” to signify their service in the Confederacy. The Union soldier, if injured, received a small pension for his injuries ($6 to $22) and received a discharge from the service. The Confederate men may have received a small pension from the state in which they served. “A pardon was granted” when a man served in the Army of the Confederacy in lieu of a discharge being granted.

Sunset Memorial Gardens (Summit Ridge Cemetery) 16702 Road 30, Dolores:

Richard A. Baker (1843-1921). Private. Union Army – Co. G – 3rd Regt N.Y. Light Artillery. Mr. Baker was born in England and came to America when he was nine years old, living in New York. Later, he went to Illinois. After the war he resided in Nebraska and came to Cortez in 1907. He was known as “Uncle Dick Baker” and lived in the area near Ute Mountain about 12 miles southwest of Cortez.

William A. Huntley (1839-1914). Union Army – Co. K – 11th Illinois Infantry. Mr. Huntley lived in the Lakeview Community where he resided until his death. No further information was found.

Samuel M. (Milt) McConnell (1846-1922). Confederate Army – Co. L – 6th Georgia Cavalry. At the age of 16 years, Milt volunteered his services to the Confederate States of America and served the last two years of the Civil War for the cause he then thought was right. After the war he was just as strong in his defense of the principles of the United States of America in the struggles that have ensued since the Civil War. He came to Trinidad in 1881 and from there came to the old Big Bend in 1884 and arrived on the first day the high water of the Dolores River could be forded. They crossed the river in a boat because the river still could not be forded. Mr. McConnell, with his wife Lucy Brumley, homesteaded land on Brumley Draw, near Lewis, and later bought land on the Dolores River below Big Bend where they built a house just above the “Bill Ritter place.” Milt worked for the LC Cattle Co. while living at Big Bend. Mrs. Lacy, owner of the company, was a sister of Lucy. He was one of the pioneers who braved the hardships of pioneer life.

Henry Ritter ( -1914). Union Army – Co. K – 9th Illinois Cavalry. In 1874 Mr. Ritter came to the Montezuma Valley and homesteaded a quarter of a section of land northeast of Cortez in the Lakeview Community. This land became the nucleus of a sheep ranch owned by his descendants. The first original house built after 1874 has one door and originally no windows. It did however, have shooting portholes on a side for possible “discussions” with the native population. This property was honored into the “Centennial Farm Program” and “Historic Structure Awards.” It was owned by Ritter, Oscar Schlegel, and today by Dick and Rick Lee.

Isaac W. Stevens (1854-1928). Union Army – Co. A – 8th Illinois Cavalry. During the war, Mr. Stevens was a special messenger of General Phil Sheridan. After the war he worked as a stonemason in Illinois and Kansas. He followed the gold rush to Colorado and was said to have prospected the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. For a number of years he lived at the mouth of Disappointment Creek on the Dolores River and when he moved to this area he made his home near the German schoolhouse north of Cortez. Mr. Stevens suffered an attack of blood poisoning from the bite of a cat about two months prior to his death and it is believed this bite later resulted in his death.

Cedar Grove Cemetery 8432 Road 41, Mancos:

Lewis McCullen Armstrong (1836-1899). Confederate Army – Co. C – 37th North Carolina Infantry. In 1886, Mr. Armstrong moved to Mancos. No further information was found.

John C. Bowen (1842-1911). Union Army – Private in Co. B – 2nd Colorado Cavalry. Pensioned. Mr. Bowen lived in the Mancos area and was a farmer and a miner. He had been working at a mine on the East Mancos and lost his life in a powder explosion in his mine. In 1895, Mr. Bowen was residing in Animas City (above Durango).

Graves W. Cheely (1832-1863). Confederate Army – Sgt. in 37th Virginia Infantry as a member of Forbery’s Brigade. May also have served in Co. D., Texas Cavalry. Mr. Cheely has a nice family stone but nothing denoting his Civil War service.

J.E. (John E.) Cox ( ). Union Army – 8th Missouri Infantry. Mr. Cox does not have a government marker. No further information is known.

Thomas Jefferson Freeman (1843-1907). Confederate Army – Private in Cobb’s Division – Hampton’s Brigade – Georgia. He entered the service in 1861 and served under Generals Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Wade Hampton. He came to Mancos in 1904 and was the father of 12 children, including Ira Freeman, editor of the Mancos Times. Mr. Freeman has a nice family stone but nothing to indicate his military service.

John Collins Harvey (1844-1927). Union Army – Co. K – 3rd Illinois Cavalry. He came to Mancos in 1913 and suffered cancer and other complications. Through the efforts of his grandson, a government marker denoting his service was obtained.

William Henry Hayes (1840-1927). Union Army – Private in Co. F – 11th Missouri Cavalry. Pensioned for his service as his eyes were damaged from flying cinders on the train; his ears also sustained damage and he suffered from a back injury. Pension was $8 or $10. After the Civil War he came west and was engaged in railroad work and farming in the Denver/Fort Collins area. Mr. Hayes and his family arrived in Mancos in 1879. He saw service in the early Indian wars, and was a prospector, farmer, and Justice of Peace in the Mancos community for several years.

Augustus C. Honaker (1840-1905). Confederate Army – Sgt. in Co. C – 1st Missouri Volunteer Cavalry. He came to Colorado about 1881, built the first bridge across the Mancos River, and used the money ($100) to send for his family in Missouri. He sold his land on the Mancos and for a number of years lived on the San Juan River. In 1911, the family lived on the former Lemon ranch south of Mancos. (Mr. Honaker has a Civil War stone on his grave furnished by the Veterans Administration; however, the emblem on his stone is in error as it reflects his service to be Union. Sometime in the future, this stone may be changed to reflect his service in the Confederacy.

Harvey A. Honaker (1843-1909). Confederate Army – Private in Co. C – 1st Missouri Volunteer Cavalry. He came to the Mancos in 1884 and shortly thereafter settled in the Montezuma Valley on a ranch near Ute Mountain.

James L. Honaker (1839-1863). Confederate Army – Co. F – 1st Missouri Cavalry. Mr. Honaker is not buried in Mancos with his brothers, as he died in Mississippi while fighting in the Civil War.

Wiley Barrow King (1832-1905). Confederate Army – 10th Tennessee Infantry. He was an old timer of Texas but came to the Mancos area where he made his home with family members for several years prior to his death. No further information was found.

The Montezuma County Historical Society is publishing the stories on the Civil War veterans. In the next issue will be found information on additional men buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery. If you have information “where no information is shown” please contact her. The upcoming volume of “Great Sage Plain to Timberline” will have information about Civil War men who came here. We plan to have book #4 available for sale in the fall.

The annual dues in the amount of $15 (single) or $25 (family) are due for the upcoming year (Sept. 15, 2011 to Sept. 15, 2012). Our motto is “Preserve the Past to Enhance the Future.” Please call Louise Smith (Membership – 564-1815) or Kelly Wilson (Chairman – 565-9242) to become a member of this active group hoping to preserve history and to acquire a space for a museum.

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