New tombstones mark Civil War vets' gravesWhen she attended a special ceremony honoring region Civil War veterans in May, Valparaiso native Pat Lane had no idea she would learn her great-great-grandfather served as a sergeant in the war.
By: Marc Chase, The Times, Superior Telegram
VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — When she attended a special ceremony honoring region Civil War veterans in May, Valparaiso native Pat Lane had no idea she would learn her great-great-grandfather served as a sergeant in the war.
On Wednesday, Lane was able to be a part of the "ultimate" honor for her ancestor, Sgt. Uriah Jaqua, as volunteers replaced his broken and worn headstone with a new government-issued marker at Valparaiso's Maplewood Cemetery.
Jaqua was among eight veterans buried at the cemetery whose graves received new markers Wednesday through volunteer efforts of the Calumet Region Civil War Preservation Project and the newly created South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail.
In all, 19 veterans at the cemetery have received new granite markers since Memorial Day 2011, and nearly 80 Civil War veteran graves have received new markers throughout Lake and Porter counties.
"I think it's great that the grave sites of these veterans are being preserved so future generations can learn about them," Lane said.
Jaqua, who lived in Lowell at the beginning of Civil War, was believed to have been a farmer by trade prior to the war and served as a volunteer in the 73rd Indiana Infantry.
Jaqua's old original marble veteran's headstone was faded, broken and missing about two-thirds of its original structure.
Also aware of — but unable to attend Wednesday's headstone installations — was Jim Scott, great-nephew of Civil War cavalry blacksmith William Drago.
Scott, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., learned his ancestor would be receiving a new headstone when he contacted volunteers from the preservation project after reading about the grave site restoration efforts in northwest Indiana.
Scott said genealogical researchers at the Valparaiso Public Library helped confirm Drago was buried at Maplewood, at the intersection of Sturdy Road and Penna Hill Drive.
So when he saw the new South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail website and its reference to Maplewood, he called trail volunteers to find out if they were aware of his great-uncle's grave. It turned out Drago already was among veterans set to receive new headstones.
"I think it's fantastic that time is being taken and effort is being put into working with the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) to replace these markers," said Scott, who has seen a photo of Drago's new headstone and plans to visit the cemetery later this year.
Drago, who served in an Illinois cavalry unit, came from a family of blacksmiths who were early French-Canadian settlers in Valparaiso.
Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com.