BRANDON, Iowa — Remembering war veterans isn’t easy when they fought 150 or 200 years ago and their graves aren’t marked.
Which prompted Bill Reedy of Brandon to get headstones for three soldiers. Each will be dedicated Sunday.
The events will take place at the end of the community’s annual Cowboy Breakfast, which runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The first dedication will start at 1 p.m. at the Brandon Cemetery east of town for Civil War veteran James Crum. His great, great-granddaughter, Vicki Crum Goatcher of Arizona, is expected.
The second will follow at 1:45 p.m. at Spring Creek Cemetery northwest of Brandon for Civil War veteran Robert Lauderdale and War of 1812 veteran William Boyles.
The ceremonies will include members of the Iowa Chapter of the Society of 1812, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and American Legions from Brandon and Jesup. Expect to see men dressed as troops from both wars.
Before the ceremonies, participants will meet at the Grand Army of the Republic building in Brandon, one of the few still standing in Iowa.
“The GAR was a sunset organization,” says Reedy, 70, who has volunteered to help with old cemeteries since 2003. “Only men who served in the Civil War could belong. When they died, it died.”
The GAR kept veteran records of previous wars as well as the Civil War, which helped Bill research these soldiers.
“It all started with this one,” Reedy says, pointing to a new granite stone for Lauderdale. “A group was out cleaning stones and looking at those that needed repair.”
Lauderdale’s was in pieces.
Reedy’s research secured stones from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for him and James Crum, a Civil War veteran from Brandon. Crum enlisted at 39, served eight months and later moved out West. He died in 1909 and was buried at the Brandon cemetery where his marker stands.
Lauderdale enlisted with friends and was one of three to die of malaria. Records erroneously showed he was discharged Sept. 28, 1864, when, in fact, he died three days earlier at a hospital in Davenport.
A friend of Lauderdale, E.W. Boyles is buried nearby. He was discharged but died in November of that same year. His record led Reedy to his grandfather, William Boyles, a captain in the War of 1812.
“I’ve been researching 1812 veterans since this is the bicentennial. I’ve verified that 17 are buried in Buchanan County.”
And, with Reedy’s help, they are remembered.