As the United States observes the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861-1865), a front page story 100 years ago reminded Cortez readers of their neighbors sacrifices that should not be forgotten. This holds true in 2011 as the ranks of World War II veterans thins and our soldiers are still at war in far away places we honor and thank them all. Here is Looking Back in 1911:
Montezuma Journal, (Cortez, Montezuma County); June 1, 1911
IN MEMORY OF DEAD
Graves of Old Soldiers and Others Banked with Flowers
While there were no services held in this town Tuesday, those who had gone before were not forgotten, and graves in the local cemetery were covered over and over with high banks of flowers not only for his own loved ones but for the others who slept beside them.
There is no GAR post in the town but the following old soldiers reside here, or in the immediate vicinity:
Lawrence Vanarsdale, Co. K, 19th Ky. Inft.; Wm. A. Huntly, Co. K, 11th Ills. Cav.; Henry H. Ritter, Co. K, 9th Ills. Cav.; Jos. J. Morefield, Co. G, 111th Ills.; Davis H. Sayler, Co. B, 7th Md. Inft.; Ezra Hamilton, Co. C, 21st Mo.; John E. McCoy, J.J. Hollingsworth, Richard Baker; J.H. Morrison, W. G. Neely, J. B. Baskett, Jasper Critton.
In the Cortez cemetery, in well-marked graves, are buried the following men, who answered their countrys call:
Walter Wasson, Co. H, 48th Wis. Inft.; James Thornhill, Co. G, 9th Mo. Cav.; Albert Parker, Co. F, 21st Ohio; Anthony Barrett, Co. F, 1st Nev. Cav.; Harvey Benson, Co. A, 61st Ills. Inft.; also S. D. Winbourne, Confederate army.
The following are also buried there, but in unmarked graves:
John B. Maness, Co. K, 5th Kans. Cav.; Major W. Harrison French, Aide-de-camp of Gen. Burnside; Allen L. Thompson, 1st Lieut, Co. H, 2nd Iowa Inft.; Thos. H. Shields; also, Jas. Wall of the Confederate army.
Also, outside of the cemetery are buried the following:
... Baker, at the head of Hartman Draw; Joshua Campbell, at the old Campbell ranch; Porter Mitchell, in McElmo canon.
The old soldiers are going rapidly and many answered the last roll call each year. Still the spirit of 60 is in their heart and though the step may be slow and faltering, the fire of patriotism still glows within them.
All honor to the old soldier, both the man who wore the blue and the man who wore the gray. Both were sincere in their belief, each fought for what he considered the right, and both were Americans.
The unmarked graves in the local cemetery should at once have suitable headstones erected over them. A man who was willing to give his life for his country is at least entitled to this respect, if not from his country, from us, the people for whom he saved the Union.
GAR (The Grand Army of the Republic) was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army who served in the American Civil War. Founded in 1866 in Decatur, Ill., it was dissolved in 1956 when its last member died. Linking men through their experience of the war, the GAR became among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, lobbying the U.S. Congress to establish veterans pensions, and supporting Republican political candidates. Its peak of membership at more than 400,000 was in 1890, a high point of Civil War commemorative ceremonies.
The 1911 Montezuma Journal article claims there was no GAR post in town, but in its Decoration Day column of 1909 it did mention the Warren Post No. 89, formed in Cortez according to the Denver Librarys online Western History and Genealogy site, and appeared in a September 1897 Lodge Directory in the Montezuma Journal, meeting on the first Saturday of every month at their own GAR Hall in Cortez.
CORRECTION: Mea culpa, readers! There was a typo in the first paragraph in Looking Backs May 7, 2011 column, which read the 1899 stone Wilson block ... Anyone who drives down Main Street (including yours truly) can plainly read the correct date on the building: 1889. We are sorry for our historical error.
To Looking Back readers: This will be my last column for a while, as family, health and travel needs have interrupted the research and writing time needed to provide accurate stories of early days in Montezuma County. Special thanks to Thomas Tommy Johnson for his encouragement and input, as well as historian June Head for checking her voluminous files. Reader feedback has been appreciated and has added much to information the Montezuma County Historical Society hopes to preserve in a future museum and learning center. You can still contact me for additions, correction and comments: Joyce Lawrence, 882-2636 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to be back soon.
Joyce Lawrence is a board member of the Montezuma County Historical Society. She may be contacted for comments, corrections or questions at 882-2636 or email@example.com.