"Our cause was so just, so sacred, that had I known all that has come to pass, had I known what was to be inflicted upon me, all that my country was to suffer, all that our posterity was to endure, I would do it all over again." - Jefferson Davis
Located in North Alton, Illinois
Courtesy of Angie Johnson
Courtesy of Angie Johnson
Courtesy of Angie Johnson
Courtesy of Angie Johnson
Courtesy of Angie Johnson
Unknown Confederate Soldiers
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES CONCERNING THE CONFEDERATE CEMETERY:
TO HONOR SOUTHERN DEAD
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 8, 1900
The graves of the Confederate dead in the burying ground at North Alton will be strewn with Magnolia and Cape Jessamine buds this year, to be sent here by the Confederate veterans of the South. Mr. H. J. Bowman received a letter from W. H. Catts of Granbury, Texas yesterday, saying that a movement has been started this year to again send flowers from Texas, and subscriptions may be taken up to lay the cornerstone of a monument that will be erected some place in this city by the G. A. R. and the Confederate veterans of the country, in memory of the men who died in the Alton prison during the war. Mr. Catts brought with him $100 last year, which is deposited in the Alton National bank as the nucleus of a fund to be raised for the building of a monument. Mr. Catts suggested that the cornerstone of the monument be laid on Memorial Day, and that the Daughters of the Confederacy of St. Louis be invited to participate. It is probable that the decoration of the Confederate graves will be deferred to the day following Memorial Day, and that a flag pole be erected in the cemetery on that day. Mr. Bowman said he will call a meeting of the committees interested in the work to make preparations for decorating the cemetery. A wire fence has been built around the cemetery by the government, neat gates have been put up, and a man is employed by the war department to keep the grass cut since the cemetery was made national property after many years of neglect.
THE BLUE AND GRAY MONUMENT
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 22, 1901
The plan to erect a monument in Alton to the memory of the Blue and the Gray, to be constructed of granite blocks of blue and gray, to be contributed by G. A. R. posts and Confederate veterans' posts, is being taken up with vigor by southern people. A letter has been received by A. S. Marland, who drew a plan for the monument, asking that photographs of the plans be sent to various Texas cities for use in showing the southern people what is being planned. It is said that subscriptions will be taken up then at many places in the South to apply on the monument fund. The site that is favored is on the bluffs at the end of Prospect street.
H. J. BOWMAN WILL BEAUTIFY CONFEDERATE BURYING GROUND
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 13, 1902
Mr. H. J. Bowman, who has taken an active interest in beautifying the Confederate burying ground at North Alton, is planning to decorate the graves in the cemetery this year as has been done for several years past. He has plans for planting trees in the cemetery to transform the ground into a place of beauty. The committee having charge of the ground is planning also to place contribution boxes on the grounds of the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904 for the purpose of receiving contributions for the proposed Confederate monument which it is desired to erect in Alton.
WILL STREW CAPE JASMINES OVER THE GRAVES OF CONFEDERATES
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 28, 1902
Mr. H. J. Bowman today received a letter from Hon. W. H. Catts of Granbury, Texas, formerly of Alton, saying that 1,000 bulbs of the Cape Jasmine will be sent to Alton and will arrive Thursday. The buds were collected in Texas by Mr. Catts to be strewed over the graves of the Confederate dead at the North Alton Federal burying ground. Mr. Bowman has turned the letter over to the members of Alton Post, G. A. R., and that body will have charge of the ceremonies at the Confederate burying ground. Mr. Catts has been untiring in his efforts to raise funds for the proposed Blue and Gray monument at Alton. He writes that he will take up the matter anew, and will make fresh efforts to raise the fund, or to interest all the Confederate veterans and the Union soldiers' posts with the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Women's Relief corps. He proposes that the shaft be made 150 feet high, surmounted by an appropriate figure. The shaft, he is planning, will be made of alternate blocks of granite to be given and inscribed with the names of the contributing G. A. R., Confederate Veterans Posts, and the women's organizations. He further suggests that the shaft be surmounted by an electric light to be maintained at government expense.
PROTEST OF AN OLD SOLDIER AGAINST A "BLUE AND GRAY" MONUMENT
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 7, 1902
Editor Telegraph: It is with deep regret that I notice a movement is inaugurated for the erection of a soldiers' monument to the Blue and the Gray in Alton. In 1861 and 1865, the boys who were uniformed in gray and butternut held in utter detestation the hated blue of the Yankee army, while the gray uniforms that blended so harmoniously with the undergrowth of the Southern swamps and forests, were as bitterly hated by the boys who wore the blue. The fight was to the bitter end. The brave rebels, Confederates if you please, fought until exhausted in men and money. Those who gave up their lives gave them in the hope of securing an independent confederacy. On the other hand, the soldiers of the Union died in the hope of preserving the Union of States as one country. Why then insult the memory of those men of the South or the North by the erection of monuments that are a lie against as brave men as ever were opposed to one another. Why falsify history and give to coming generations the impression that the war for the union was only a disagreement, when no walking delegate was at hand to settle the difficulty? Erect shafts of gray if you will, to the memory of the brave Confederates, but as well might you twine the Stars and Bars and St. Andrew's Cross with the Stars and Stripes as, under the influence of this hypnotic charlatanism to go building monuments that are a lie against men who deserve better, for it was no light matter to stand with breast exposed to the bullets of so eminent foes. The living soldiers of the Civil War need no artist to mix their colors. They have nothing to forgive; nothing they wish to forget. It was war, and they simply shot their hate away; buried it in old rows of corn or cotton fields, or starved it in prisons. If the dead soldiers of the South and North could speak, they would say, do not do this thing. But if you will do it, why then, they are dead and cannot help themselves. From An Old Soldier.
ALTON PEOPLE RECEIVE THANKS FOR GRAVE DECORATIONS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 20, 1902
Mr. H. J. Bowman has received from W. H. Catts a copy of some resolutions of thanks tendered by the members of the camp to the citizens of Alton and the members of Alton Post, G. A. R., for decorating the graves in the Confederate cemetery at North Alton. The communication extending the sincere thanks of the Southern people, extended by the members of Granbury camp, Confederate Veterans, is as follows:
Granbury, Texas, June 17, 1902. Devoutly Honored Members of G. A. R., Alton, Ill.:
We, as old Confederate Soldiers take special pleasure in thanking the old soldiers, the citizens of Alton, and especially the ladies for their remembrance to our unknown dead on Decoration Day. It is a special pleasure for us to do this at this day, when the realization of the past, the accomplishment of a work of the present, and the needs of the future are passing in review - in recognition of the founders of this organization. We feel our feebleness to express our heartfelt thanks. Words are inadequate to express our pent-up emotions in gratitude to those angels of mercy in remembering our unknown dead. J. R. Morris, Acting Adjutant Granbury Camp, No. 67.
CONFEDERATE GRAVEYARD ATTRACTS ATTENTION AGAIN
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 9, 1902
The St. Louis Post Dispatch of Sunday has the following item a part of which is inaccurate: "An hour's ride from St. Louis near Alton, there is a burial ground with unmarked graves of 1,600 American soldiers. There is no monument, nothing whatever to identify this sacred spot. It has been a common cattle pasture land for more than 30 years, and hoofs of animals and time have leveled down all the little grass-grown mounds that once marked the graves of the brave Confederate dead who died in Alton prison during the Civil War. Women's sympathy has at last been enlisted in a manner that promises to rectify the neglect that has nearly trodden the old cemetery out of sight. A few weeks since, a party of noble women - Mrs. John A. Lee, Mrs. William G. Moore, Mrs. Celeste Pim, and Mrs. Phil Chew, constituting a committee of the St. Louis Chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy - went to Alton, and after much difficulty in finding the place, located and visited the grounds. Since then the site has been enclosed with a temporary fence, and through an application to be presented to Congress by Senator Cockrell and the Illinois Senators, it is proposed to have the cemetery properly cared for. To that end, the ladies of the St. Louis Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy intend to devote the entire receipts of their annual ball, to be held in the Masonic Hall in the Odeon building, Grand and Finney avenues, Thursday evening, December 18."
The cemetery has been fenced for years, and there is certainly no difficulty whatever in locating it. The dead in the cemetery are remembered annually also, but the remembrance is manifested by Republican gentlemen of Alton and Texas, and by the Alton G. A. R. and W. R. C. All Altonians will remember the enthusiasm of H. J. Bowman and his earnest efforts annual in this respect, and of the cheerfulness with which ladies of the W. R. C. and G. A. R. braved rain and other storms on Memorial days to visit the cemetery and scatter flowers, many of which were sent from Texas by Hon. William Catts, another Union soldier, for the purpose. The Government reclaimed the cemetery and fixed the fences almost 10 years ago, after an agitation started by the Alton Telegraph, and for which the editor was abused and the North Alton correspondent pretty nearly got a licking. It is time the Daughters of the Confederacy and the sons of it too, were doing something in memory of their own dead. So far all that has been done has been accomplished by Union people and anti-secessionists.
SOCIETY TO DANCE - THAT THE DEAD OF FORTY YEARS AGO MAY BE MEMORIALIZED
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 15, 1902
A ball is to be given in St. Louis Thursday by the Daughters of the Confederacy, and the proceeds devoted exclusively to beautifying the Confederate Cemetery at North Alton. Mr. H. J. Bowman of this city [Alton], who has been active in the work of interesting the public in a plan of erecting a memorial monument at Alton to the wearers of the Blue and Gray in the civil strife, has suggested a plan for raising funds for the proposed monument at Alton, which may be taken up by the members of the St. Louis chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. The St. Louis members of the Daughters of the Confederacy have taken interest in the plan to erect a monument, and through them it is proposed to do most of the work of raising the necessary fund, with the assistance of Alton people. Mr. Bowman proposes that as the old Confederate Cemetery at North Alton was neglected so long, the graves have been lost track of, that the ground which constituted the old burying ground for Confederate prisoners who died in the Alton prison be converted into a national park, to be maintained as a site for a monument for the dead. It is proposed to place in various parts of the country and on the grounds of the Louisiana purchase exposition boxes to receive contributions toward the fund to be raised. It is suggested that the monument be built of alternate blue and gray blocks of granite, to be contributed by the Confederate veterans and the G. A. R. posts throughout the country and by other kindred organizations.
MORE CEMETERY HISTORY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 16, 1902
North Alton News - An Alton paper the other evening said that between 200 and 300 Confederate dead are buried in North Alton. That number is more than 1,000 short. Thirteen hundred and four were interred here. Captain H. W. Hart of Alton had the contract for burying the Confederate dead, and he had to keep an account of the number. Michael Gleason, the well known Irishman, who up to a few years ago lived on Piasa street in Alton, was the sexton who did the actual work of burying. He is yet living in St. Louis. Among those buried here was a woman, Barbara Ann Donavan, whose sex was discovered only after her death. Mr. Gleason could readily point out the spot where her remains rest. H. J. Bowman of Alton was largely instrumental in arousing the attention of the government to the condition of the cemetery and its subsequent reclamation. He had a plat of the cemetery made in 1899 at his own expense, which he furnished the government, and Quartermaster Henry Nichols then of St. Louis, succeeded shortly in having the grounds cleaned up and a fence built. Mrs. Moore of St. Louis, President of the Daughters of the Confederacy of Missouri, is still in correspondence with Mr. Bowman and is receiving valuable aid and information from him.
SON OF CONFEDERATE DEAD RELIEVED TO LEARN CEMETERY HAS NOT BEEN TAKEN BY RIVER - WANTS TO FIND FATHER'S RESTING PLACE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 12, 1903
Mr. H. J. Bowman Monday received a letter from J. T. Ferguson, an official of the Cotton Belt railroad at Shreveport, La., in which the latter thanks Mr. Bowman for the great interest taken by him in the Confederate Cemetery at North Alton. The writer's father, J. T. Ferguson, died in the Alton prison in 1864, and investigation of the roster here shows that "James Ferguson" died January 8, 1864. The writer is anxious to know if his father's resting place can be found. He adds that he expects to be in St. Louis within the next month and will come to Alton and look over the Confederate Cemetery, and closes by saying: "I have a great many friends who have relatives buried in that cemetery, and will communicate with them in order that they may learn of your kind and generous remembrance of the Southern men who are buried there. We had been led to believe that the resting places of our relatives had been entirely obliterated and were told the river had cut through and washed away many of the graves, and we are delighted beyond measure to learn that such is not the case." Mr. Bowman will answer the letter at once, and all persons having relatives buried here be notified of the true condition of the cemetery.
IF CONFEDERATE GRAVE APPROPRIATION PASSES, NORTH ALTON CEMETERY WILL BE ENTITLED TO $4,500
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 17, 1903
If the bill appropriating a $100,000, introduced by Senator Foraker, to provide for the appropriate marking of the graves of soldiers of the Confederate army and navy, and directing the Secretary of War to ascertain the localities and conditions of the graves of such soldiers who died in the Federal prisons and military hospitals in the north during the Civil War, and who were buried near the place of confinement becomes a law, the cemetery at North Alton will be entitled to about $4,500 of it. There are more than 1300 Confederates buried there, and it is proposed by the bill that $3.38 be expended to procure a suitable headstone for each grave. In the case of the North Alton cemetery, it will be impossible to locate individual graves notwithstanding the names of the dead are of record, and the headstones at each grave would be of no use in identifying the body below. The appropriation of $4,500 however, when added to the amounts procured in other ways, such as suggested by Mr. H. J. Bowman and the Daughters of the Confederacy, would build a splendid monument besides furnishing the means of placing the cemetery in first-class condition.
LETTER RECEIVED FROM PRESIDENT OF ST. LOUIS CHAPTER OF DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 20, 1903
Mr. H. J. Bowman is in receipt of a letter from Mrs. Eiolia T. Moore, President of the St. Louis Chapter Daughters of the Confederacy, in which she states that it is necessary to receive permission from Congress before anything can be done toward beautifying the Confederate Cemetery at North Alton. She says she has written Congressmen Joy and Bartholdt of St. Louis, asking them to secure the necessary consent so that work can begin at once, and she requests Mr. Bowman to supplement her requests by personal letters from Alton from the G. A. R. and W. R. C., and from himself. She states that they have more than a thousand dollars in the cemetery fund available now, and are very anxious to have congressional action hastened in order that repair and decorative work may begin in the early spring. Mr. Bowman, in addition to writing as requested to Congressmen Joy and Bartholdt, has also written to Senators Cullom and Mason and to Congressman Rodenberg, requesting their cooperation and urging that they do all in their power to hasten congressional consent.
TEXAS ENCAMPMENT G. A. R. ENDORSES MOVEMENT TO ERECT A BLUE AND GRAY MONUMENT IN ALTON
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 15, 1903
Mr. H. J. Bowman is in receipt of a letter from Granbury, Texas, dated May 11, and written by Hon. W. H. Catts, in which the latter states that he had ordered that day 1,500 Cape Jessamine buds be sent to Mr. Bowman for use in decorating the graves in the Confederate Cemetery in North Alton. Mr. Catts also writes that the matter of erecting a blue and gray granite monument upon the site of the old prison at Alton was unanimously approved by the Texas Encampment G. A. R. held last week, and that department pledges its support and encouragement to the movement to erect such a monument as "typifying the fraternal relations now existing between old soldiers of the north and south." Mr. Catts says he also requested the Illinois Encampment G. A. R. at East St. Louis last week to endorse the movement, but he failed to receive an answer from the commander there and doesn't know what action was taken.
DAUGHTERS OF CONFEDERACY WILL ATTEND
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 19, 1903
Mr. H. J. Bowman has received information that the St. Louis chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy, will assist in decorating the graves of the Confederate dead in North Alton. Mr. Bowman has held a conference with members of the society, and they will hold a meeting May 26, at which they will make arrangement for coming to Alton on that day and strewing the flowers sent by Texas people for the Confederate graves.
CONFEDERATE DEAD REMEMBERED
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 3, 1903
Ceremonies in memory of the Confederate dead buried in the old cemetery at North Alton were held Wednesday afternoon. Veterans of the G. A. R., ladies and gentlemen of Alton and North Alton, a squad of Naval Militia, including the gun crew, attended the ceremonies. The Naval Militia, under command of Ensign Sam Darnell, fired the salute to the dead. On a pyramid of rock a white cross was erected, and the cross was garlanded with green by ladies of Alton. The monument was erected on a hilltop where the graves were thickest. There the audience gathered to listen to the program and to decorate the monument, which was symbolic of "The Rock of Ages." The attendance at the ceremonies was large, notwithstanding threatened rain and the fact that the St. Louis delegation failed to arrive. The monument presented a very pretty appearance when the decoration was finished. The following program was given:
Singing - "Nearer My God to Thee"
Prayer - Rev. Dr. D. E. Bushnell
Address - Rev. H. M. Chittenden
Salute to the Dead
Address - Rev. M. H. Ewers
Address - Hon. W. H. Catts
Address - John Armstrong
DAUGHTERS OF CONFEDERACY ORGANIZED - FIRST ONE IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 20, 1904
Illinois has not, hitherto, proved good ground for the flourishing of the Society of the Daughters of the Confederacy, but a chapter has been organized in Alton which is the first chapter of the society in this State. The charter issued by the head council of the society at Nashville bears the name Alton Chapter, but there is a probability the name will be changed to commemorate the deeds of some Confederates here of the members. The officers elected are: Mrs. John N. Drummond, president; Mrs. Mary Bulkley and Mrs. Charles Collins, vice-presidents; Mrs. S. H. Gregory, secretary; Mrs. Anna Hill Cunningham, treasurer. A meeting will be held July 1 at the home of Captain G. W. Hill, when the society will adjourn for the summer. The purpose of the ladies is to provide for the care of the Confederate burying ground at North Alton.
DISTINGUISHED SOUTHERN PEOPLE TO VISIT CONFEDERATE CEMETERY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 21, 1904
A party of distinguished Texans, numbering about twenty, and including Frances R. Lubbock, aged 94, the first president of the Texas republic; Roger Q. Mills of Austin, Texas; Col. William Farley of Ft. Worth; General Alexander M. Wharton of Paris; and others, will be in Alton tomorrow to visit the old Confederate burying ground at North Alton. Ex-President Lubbock is a venerable gentleman who is in St. Louis with fifteen members of the Texas delegation to the Democratic National convention and to visit the World's Fair. While in St. Louis they decided to make a trip to Alton, and Gen. Wharton was in Alton today to see Mr. H. J. Bowman and to make arrangements for the party here. Gen. Wharton went to Godfrey to visit his niece, who is staying at Monticello Seminary. Ex-President Lubbock is one of the distinguished men in the State of Texas. He is looked upon as the father of the Democratic party there, and was brought to St. Louis by his enthusiastic friends who promised to take good care of him and to return the highly esteemed citizen of the state. He was chosen president of Texas in 1839, serving one year, after which Gen. Sam Houston was chosen president and filled the office until Texas entered the union in 1845. Gen. Wharton had heard of Mr. H. J. Bowman in connection with his efforts in behalf of the Confederate Cemetery at North Alton being reclaimed and he said that he made the trip to Alton to grasp Mr. Bowman's hand. All the other members of the party are much interested in what the Alton people have been doing in behalf of the beautifying and reclamation of the abandoned burying ground, and for that reason Alton will be honored with the visit of the distinguished Texans tomorrow, if the weather is favorable.
VISITED CONFEDERATE GRAVES
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 27, 1904
D. C. Long, a distinguished looking southerner who is doing the World's Fair, came up to Alton yesterday for the purpose of visiting the Confederate Cemetery at North Alton, and he was placed in charge of Henry Mayo, who acted as guide. Mr. Long did not say he had any relatives buried here, but he spent several hours in the cemetery and was very anxious to learn all that he could of those buried there. He returned to St. Louis last evening after calling on Mr. H. J. Bowman and thanking him for the very active part that gentleman has always taken in the reclamation of the cemetery.
GLEASON, MICHAEL/Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 2, 1904 Man Who Buried Confederate Prisoners of War in North Alton Passes Away
Michael Gleason, who for more than sixty years was a well known figure about Alton, died Monday evening in St. Louis, aged 92 years. He and his wife left Alton, where they yet own considerable property, for St. Louis to make their home with their daughters about six years ago. All of the oldest citizens knew and liked "Mike" Gleason. He was genial, good-natured, accommodating and industrious, with no enemies, and when he was far past 80 years of age he did a fairly good day's work with his shovel on the streets. Mr. Gleason was the sexton of the Confederate Cemetery during the War of the Rebellion, having been engaged by the late Captain H. W. Hart, who had the contract for burying all of the prisoners of war who died in the Alton prison. The actual burying was done by Mr. Gleason, and he was assisted in digging the graves by the late James Hannigan, father of Mrs. Mary Quinn of this city. He was probably the only one who knew the exact spot in the cemetery where lies the remains of the Confederate prisoner of war, who after death was discovered to be a woman, and Captain Hart used to relate how Mr. Gleason rebelled at burying her among the men in the "rebel" grounds, his idea being that because she was of the sex of his mother, she should be buried in consecrated ground, and for years it is said after the war he saw that her grave was not neglected, and up to the time he left Alton he frequently went to the cemetery to strew flowers over the place he placed her body so many years before. The place may be identified by this very practice of Mr. Gleason, as the North Alton children sometimes accompanied him on his visits, and it is stated that one of them, now a business man of this city, does remember the spot well. A movement was started several months ago by those interested to have Mr. Gleason come up from St. Louis and locate the grave so that it could be properly cared for in future, but the matter was neglected until now it is too late. Mr. Gleason leaves his wife and two daughters, Mrs. Mary Gerrity and Miss B. Gleason of St. Louis. The funeral will be from the Cathedral Wednesday at 10 o'clock a.m., the body arriving from St. Louis a short time before that hour.
MANY DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY VISIT ALTON BURYING GROUND
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 3, 1905
There was a large attendance of St. Louis ladies at the decoration of the old Confederate burying ground in North Alton this afternoon. The ladies arrived in Alton on the noon C. & A. train from St. Louis and went to the home of Capt. G. W. Hill, where luncheon was served to them by the ladies of the Alton chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. The visitors paraded the streets for a short distance carrying an old Confederate banner, probably the first such flag ever seen by many Alton people of the younger generation. Many beautiful flowers were received from southern chapters of the Daughters of the Confederacy, and there was enough flowers to make a good showing in the old cemetery. Today was adopted by the ladies as decoration day because of it being the anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis. A good program had been prepared for the occasion and it was carried out as planned. The party of visitors numbered about 85 persons, and about 75 percent of them were women, members of the Daughters of the Confederacy. At the cemetery a large number of Alton people had gathered, among the number being many Union veterans who carried bouquets of flowers and listened attentively to the address of Capt. Frank Gaiennie of St. Louis. Miss Slifer gave several recitations, the naval militia gun crew fired a salute and the audience sang "America." The Colonial band furnished the music. The Alton ladies were disappointed in the amount of southern flowers sent for the decoration day ceremonies, but some of the southern chapters sent contributions of money with which flowers were bought. The ladies were delighted with this, the first decoration day, that the St. Louis ladies could participate in the ceremonies.
DAUGHTERS OF CONFEDERACY GETS CUSTODY OF CEMETERY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 29, 1905
Mrs. S. H. Gregory of the Sam Davis Chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy, has received word from the U. S. Quartermaster's department that the request of the Sam Davis Chapter that they be given custody of the old Confederate burying ground at North Alton has been granted. The Quartermaster's department grants the request with the full belief that the ladies of the chapter will be able to take better care of the grounds than could be done under government supervision alone. The allowance from the government for caring for the grounds will be doubled this year, and the ladies will be allowed to pick the superintendent of the grounds and supervise the work. A committee to have charge of this work will be appointed, and they will assume responsibility at once for the expenditure of the money allowed by the government to keep the grounds in good condition.
ONE HUNDRED TREES PLANTED ON CONFEDERATE BURYING GROUND
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 10, 1906
About one hundred trees were planted yesterday on the Confederate burying ground at North Alton, under the direction of the Daughters of the Confederacy. The trees were sold by William Jackson of Godfrey. They are weeping willows, maples, elms and other fast growing trees which will soon change the place into a shaded grove.
STEALING SOD FROM GOVERNMENT CEMETERY AT NORTH ALTON
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 2, 1906
Someone who does not realize that Uncle Sam is the proprietor of the cemetery at North Alton where the Confederate dead are buried has been stealing sod from the cemetery. It is thought that about three loads have been taken from the premises to the injury of the grounds. No one has any right to take either sod or shrubbery therefrom, and the penalty is not light for such an act. It is probably doubtful as to whether the parties who cut this sod from the grounds are aware of what a relentless prosecutor Uncle Sam is. They will no doubt be more intelligent on this subject in a short time, as the United States Quartermaster at St. Louis, who is in charge of the cemetery, has been informed of the vandalism. The ladies of Alton and St. Louis who have been authorized by the U. S. authorities to care for the cemetery have been making an endeavor to beautify the grounds and have started this spring to add trees and shrubs and to cut the grass. It was while attending to this duty that the theft of the sod was discovered. The parties who took the sod can probably make their punishment lighter by quietly returning other sod and placing it on the denuded spots.
CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL EXERCISES AT CEMETERY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 1, 1906
The members of Sam Davis chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, will observe tomorrow as Memorial Day. The birthday anniversary of Robert E. Lee, usually observed as Confederate Memorial Day, falls on Sunday, so the Alton ladies will go to the cemetery at North Alton on Saturday afternoon and there strew flowers. The ladies are saving the money they have to spend it in making improvements on the old burying ground and get it in first class condition. The ladies have requested any persons who care to give flowers to leave them at police headquarters by 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon. The cars will leave for the cemetery at 2:30 o'clock tomorrow afternoon carrying those who desire to do. Services will be brief, but everyone is invited to attend.
ALTON DAUGHTERS OF CONFEDERACY WILL LEAD IN WORK TO MARK GRAVES OF DEAD CONFEDERATES
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 28, 1906
Mrs. G. J. Grommet has arrived home from Gulfport, Mississippi, where she attended the meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and she brought back word that the Alton Chapter will take the lead in forming an Illinois division embracing the three chapters of the state, of which the Alton chapter is the first and oldest. Mrs. Grommet said that the matter of putting the Alton Confederate burying ground in good condition was taken up by the United Daughters of Confederacy, and that it was decided to ask Congress for a special appropriation. There is an appropriation for making the graves of Confederate dead in the north, but as the graves at Alton cannot be identified it will hardly be possible to get the Alton cemetery in on the division of this fund, so the society will ask Congress to make a special appropriation for that purpose. The Alton chapter will meet next Tuesday with Mrs. Grommet at her home, Fifteenth and Henry streets, and will at that meeting consider conferring crosses of honor on three Confederate veterans who have made application for them, which will be done January 19. The Alton chapter of the U. D. C. will not make any move toward fixing up the Confederate burying ground until the commissioner in charge of the fund for marking graves of Confederate dead visits Alton to look over the burying ground and get an idea of the situation here.
FEDERAL OFFICER HERE TO MARK GRAVES
Complete Roster of all Prisoners Who Were Buried at Alton Found in War Department
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 22, 1907
Hon. William Elliott, a United States Commissioner appointed to carry out the provisions of an act of Congress passed one year ago, appropriating $200,000 for the purpose of marking the graves of Confederate soldiers who died in United States prison during the Civil War, arrived in Alton this morning, accompanied by his clerk, L. F. Nye. Mr. Elliott was a member of Congress for fourteen years, representing the Charleston district, but his home is now at Columbia, South Carolina. When seen at the Madison Hotel today, Mr. Elliott was ill, but he expected to be able to get out in a few days and will begin making an investigation which he believes will result in the identification of every grave in the old Confederate burial ground in this city, and he will then authorize the placing of marble headstones at each grave, with the name of the person buried there, and the number of his company and regiment. Mr. Elliott made the statement that since the passage of the act appropriating the money to pay for the headstones, two big volumes were found in the war department, records of the Commissary General of Prisons, giving the names, the company and regiment of every Confederate prisoner of war who died and war buried at Alton. It was not known that these volumes were in existence. Mr. Elliott said that he will rely upon this record to give the names of the dead, and taking this clue and with the assistance of Alton people, and especially the members of the Sam Davis chapter, United Daughters of Confederacy, he will succeed in his work. He expects to be here for some time. It is desired by Mr. Elliott that all old citizens of Alton who know anything of the burial of the dead in the Confederate cemetery give what information they have. It is believed that it will be possible to identify the dead by finding out where a beginning was made and then by proceeding along the rows, mark each grave in order. There are sixty of these Confederate burial grounds in the country, scattered from Boston to New Mexico. The Alton burial ground is one of the largest. Mr. Elliott, who was a confederate soldier, was appointed commissioner because it was believed he would take a great interest in the work. He has just completed marking graves at Elmira, N. Y. The Alton cemetery is the first he will visit in Illinois. Others will be visited at Springfield, Chicago and other places. Mr. Elliott's headquarters will be at the Madison hotel, and he desires to meet any persons there who can give him information. He conferred this morning with officers of Sam Davis chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy. Mr. Nye visited the old burial ground this afternoon to make a preliminary survey of the ground.
MONUMENT TO BE ERECTED IN CONFEDERATE CEMETERY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 9, 1909
The United States government will erect at Alton a monument to mark the resting place of the ____ [unreadable] confederate soldiers and sailors who died in the prison at Alton between the years 1862-65. Postmaster Henry Brueggemann today received a circular from the Commissioner for Marking Confederate Graves, asking him to post the circular in the post office, in which the commissioner makes known the plan and purpose of the proposed monument and calls for bids for the same. The circular states that the monument is to be a marker for the graves of the 1353 Confederate soldiers and sailors who died in the Alton prison and were buried in the old burying ground, reclaimed a few years ago by the War Department from a cow pasture. The notice says the monument is to be 20 to 30 feet in height, and is to be constructed of crystalline marble or granite. It is not decided whether the names of the Confederates will be carved in the marble or cast in bronze, but it is specified that the lettering shall be large enough to be plainly legible at a reasonable distance. The names and the rank, if other than privates, of the persons buried there will be inscribed, together with the company and regiment. There will be an appropriate inscription or an architrave, in larger letters, setting forth the fact that the monument is erected to mark properly the resting place of the soldiers who died as prisoners of war at Alton. The names are to be carved on four sides of the monument. The cost is not to exceed $5,500. The bidder must submit a design for the monument. It is further specified that the contractor may employ no convict labor, nor shall the men work more than eight hours a day in its construction. No sub-contractors will be recognized. The bids will be opened February 15th by W. C. Oates, the commissioner at Washington D. C. This monument will mark the place which the Telegraph first called attention to as one which should be rescued from its use as a pasture at that time. Subsequently interest was taken by Alton people in the project, and a former Union soldier and former resident of Alton, William Catts of Granbury, Texas, interested southern people in the cemetery. Members of Alton post, G. A. R., first helped to decorate the cemetery, under the direction of Mrs. S. Demuth, who is the wife of a Union soldier. Recently the property was turned over to the members of Sam Davis chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy. Over a year ago the city was visited by the commissioner for marking Confederate graves, and he found the names of the persons buried there in an old book in the archives of the War Department. These names will be carved on the monument.
WILL ERECT FENCE AROUND BURYING GROUND
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 24, 1909
The Telegraph has received from William C. Cates, commissioner for marking graves, a circular announcing that bids will be received by him at Washington, D. C., up to June 21, for the building of an iron fence around the Confederate burying ground at Alton, which has been reclaimed as a Federal cemetery. The fence is to be 1, 460 feet long and will be wrought iron, the bidders to furnish a design of the fence. The specifications require that the fence shall be five feet in height, with pointed pickets of iron, five-eights of an inch in diameter. The post are to be set in concrete. A gate 10 feet in width will be made also. The contract has been awarded, it will be remembered, for building a monument to cost not over $5,000, on which will be inscribed the name and rank of all the Confederate prisoners who died at Alton and were buried in the cemetery. So far as known, the plan of identifying the graves has been given up as impracticable. The contractor for the monument is having the stone for constructing it prepared, and as soon as material arrives, which must be properly carved or inscribed in stone or bronze, the work of erecting the monument will be begun.
REMAINS OF CONFEDERATE DEAD RE-INTERRED IN COFFINS IN FOUNDATION OF MONUMENT, AFTER BEING FOUND WRAPPED IN BLANKETS IN SHALLOW GRAVE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 12, 1909
Work of excavating for the foundation for the monument to be erected for the Confederate dead in the North Side cemetery was started yesterday by the contracting firm, the Van Amringe Granite Co. of Boston. Members of Sam Davis chapter, U. D. C. of Alton, went to the burying ground to look after the locating of the monument, and after it was staked out and excavations started, the workmen dug up the remains of two Confederate soldiers buried only 2 1/2 feet in the ground. The skeletons were still wrapped in the blankets in which they were interred, and the blankets were in good condition, considering they had been in the ground forty-five years. There were still remnants of the cedar coffins in which the bodies had been buried. The remains were gathered up, and today were reinterred under the direction of the members of Sam Davis Chapter, Mrs. G. J. Grommet being in charge. The monument, designed by the contractor, will consist mainly of a granite column and will be 57 feet in height. At the base will be four wing walls on the face of which will be affixed bronze tablets bearing the names of the 2,600 Confederates who were buried in the cemetery, with the rank of each of the dead. The base of the monument will be 13 feet 6 inches square, and the foundations will be of concrete. The materials for erecting the monument have been prepared at Boston, and were shipped from there August 3. They will arrive here in a few days and it is expected that the monument will be completed in thirty days. The members of Sam Davis chapter, U. D. C. have raised a fund to pay for a stone entrance to the grounds, and they expect to have the formal ceremony of unveiling the monument and unveiling the entrance at the same time. The government will also build an iron fence around the property. Today, the Daughters of the Confederacy had the bones of the two soldiers put in a walnut case and interred in the foundations of the monument, together with some matters of historical interest and some relics. Mrs. G. J. Grommet today confirmed the story that in the burial ground is interred a woman who enlisted as a confederate soldier, was captured and confined as a man in the Alton prison and died there. Her name was Barbara Ann Duravan, and her sex was discovered only at the time of her death. Her home is not known, nor is the place of her interment. The ladies have been very desirous of finding the place of her burial, as they would be glad to make some mark of distinction for her, but so far they have been unsuccessful. A. E. Amedon represents the contractors, the Van Amringe Granite Co. of Boston. He said today that the monument would consist of a granite obelisk 57 feet from tip of cap to the ground. The base of the principal column will be 4 feet, 4 inches square, and will sit on a series of four bases and a plinth arranged in step form. There will be eight bronze tablets, each 3 feet 6 inches by 5 feet, on the base, and an inscription tablet on the face which will look toward the east.
[NOTE: According to the book "They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War," by De Anne Blanton & Lauren M. Cook, pg. 188, "a civilian female inmate who died at Alton Military Prison was posthumously promoted into the soldier ranks in 1909, when a newspaper article about a proposed monument at the prison site in Alton chronicled the sad story of "Barbara Duravan," [sic] a woman so "strong in the belief of the Southern cause" that she served as a private in the Army of Northern Virginia. In reality, Barbara Ann Dunavan was a poor and illiterate Tennessee woman who was court-martialed for smuggling revolvers to the Confederate army. Convicted of the charge, she was sent to Alton, where she died of smallpox."]
BUILDERS OF CONFEDERATE MONUMENT UNEARTH LOT OF BONES, INCLUDING FIVE OR SIX SKULLS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 19, 1909
The men in charge of erecting the monument to the memory of the Confederate dead, who were buried in the old military prison at North Alton, are making excellent progress now with the job. The concrete foundation is being put in and a derrick has been rigged up and placed over the excavation preparatory to erecting the granite superstructure. The superintendent in charge has a force of eight or ten men at work today, and it is expected that this will be increased as needed. The monument will be a very pretty one it is said, and when the system of improvements planned for the cemetery is completed, the favorable difference in the looks of things and in fact over the old way will be so distinct that everybody will be pleased. Tuesday in completing the excavation for the base of the monument the excavators encountered the remains of five or six more of the dead soldiers, the skulls being in the best condition. Particles of blankets in which the bodies had been wrapped, evidently, were found also, and everything was gathered up carefully and placed in a box to be re-interred later. The site of the monument is on the highest point in the cemetery and must have been the burial place of the soldiers dying last, according to old residents who say the first interments were made in other parts of the burial plot - - parts furthest removed from the then entrance to the "city of the dead." The monument will be plainly seen from State street, and the Daughters of the Confederacy are planning to get permanently an entrance to the grounds over private property to avoid going down in the valley for a gateway, where the entrance would be obscured by a dip of the ground.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT BUILDING STARTED - BOX IMBEDDED IN CONCRETE BASE CONTAINING ARTICLES OF MEMORIAL NATURE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 23, 1909
Work of laying the foundation for the Confederate monument in the North Side Confederate burying ground was started today. The contractors who are erecting the monument have been delayed in getting to work by a failure of the contractors for the crushed stone to furnish it. Today, Mr. Amedon, who represents the contracting firm, notified the members of Sam Davis chapter, U. C. D., that if they desired to put a metallic box in the concrete foundations they might do so. The ladies procured various articles of a memorial nature, among them copies of the daily newspapers of current date, the constitution of Sam Davis chapter, and other things that may be interesting in the future. These were put in a box and the whole was buried in the concrete. The material for erecting the monument above the surface of the ground in coming in and no more time will be lost. Within a few weeks, the contractor thinks, he ought to be able to have the monument finished.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT COMPLETED
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 17, 1909
The Confederate monument in the old burying ground in the North Side has been completed by the contractors. All that remains to be finished now is tidying up the grounds, laying sod around the monument and putting on the finishing touches. The monument is a handsome ornament to the old cemetery. The material of which the monument is consulted [sic] is granite. The column is made of granite blocks which have an iron pipe through the middle for an air shaft. This was done for the reason that a hollow shaft is much more durable than a solid one, and will be less likely to be injured by windstorms, having a better chance to vibrate. The column is 57 feet in height four wing walls at the base on which are placed the bronze tablets bearing the names of the Confederate soldiers who were buried there. There is another tablet on the ____ that tells for what purpose the monument was erected. The monument will be a lasting one, as the materials used are the very best. In joining the blocks of granite, cement was used as it has been found impractical to use lead. It is said that in case of lightning striking the monument, as past experience has shown, the lead would be blasted out of the crevices by a bolt of lightning. Mr. Amedon, superintendent for the contracting firm, says he saw such an occurrence on the battlefield of Gettysburg, where there was not an ounce of lead left in a monument that was hit by lightning. The iron fence contracted for, will be put around the cemetery in a short time, and then the members of Sam Davis chapter, U. D. C., will begin the erection of the stone gateway they have planned.
WOMEN'S NAMES DO NOT APPEAR ON BRONZE TABLETS IN CONFEDERATE CEMETERY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 27, 1909
The work of setting up the seven bronze tablets on the Confederate monument in the North Side was started today. August Donler, of Indianapolis, who was employed by the Van Amringe company to finish the monument by putting on the bronze tablets, arrived yesterday and started his task this morning. It is a cold, difficult job. The ground, covered with snow, afforded some assistance in moving the tablets around, but the cold, biting wind that was blowing made it very difficult to work. It is necessary to drill 56 holes in the granite blocks which will carry the tablets. There will be one tablet on the east and one of the west side of the base, and two each on the north and south sides, and one tablet to be set higher up, telling for what purpose the monument was erected. The tablet says that the monument is erected to mark the burial place of 1,354 Confederate soldiers who died at the Alton prison and at the smallpox hospital across the river on McPike's island, whose places of burial cannot be identified. The names of the dead are cast in relief in letters a half an inch in height and are easily legible. The rank and the company and regiment of each of the dead is given. A Telegraph representative was on the ground and inspected the tablets closely, but so far as could be ascertained, the names of neither of the two women who were reported to have died in the prison were distinguished on the tablets. If the names appear there, they are disguised by using only initials of the given names, and therefore it cannot be definitely known whether or not they were included in the list of whose names are put there. Some confusion as to their proper names has arisen, and this may account for the failure to identify them. According to the tradition, two women who enlisted as men in the Confederate army were captured and died at Alton. If this is true, it is evidently no part of the record from which the names were taken, or they were not marked as women.
WAR DEPARTMENT WILL LEVEL GRAVES IN CEMETERY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 6, 1911
The Telegraph has received a notice which will be given to interested bidders, that the Confederate Cemetery will be graded, the depressions over the graves leveled off, and the surface of the cemetery smoothed so no outlines of graves will be visible. A large quantity of tiling will be laid to drain the ground properly. The place where grading will be done will be sodded or planted in grass. Bids will be opened February 23 at Washington, D. C., by the Commissioner for Marking Graves of Confederate Dead.
SOUTHERN STATES WOULD SEND CARLOAD OF FLOWERS HERE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 7, 1911
C. W. Milnor, police commissioner, has received a letter and some newspapers from Abilene, Texas, indicating that a movement is on foot in the south to have a formal dedication of the new monument and the reclaimed burial grounds at the old Confederate Cemetery in the North Side. The resolutions adopted at a Confederate camp meeting at Abilene last Sunday were to the effect that a carload of flowers be sent to Alton to decorate the cemetery, and that a delegation be appointed to accompany them and co-operate with the Alton Daughters of the Confederacy and Alton citizens, in having a proper observance at the dedication of the monument and grounds. The Confederate camps will ask the state of Texas to appropriate a sum of money to pay the expenses, and Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and other southern states are expected to co-operate. Mr. Milnor, some time ago, sent to Mr. [Morris R.] Locke, a former resident of Jersey county and a newspaper writer, a picture of the Confederate monument at Alton, and related some of the history of its being there. Mr. Locke had been interested long ago in having the cemetery reclaimed, and did much by his writings in the St. Louis Republic while he was a resident of Jerseyville. He succeeded in getting an investigation made, but the plan was deemed impractical at that time, owing to the fact that beside the Confederate prisoners, there were convicts, political and other prisoners buried in the cemetery. Another reason was that the burying ground on McPike Island, where part of the prisoners were buried, has been almost washed away. Mr. Locke was delighted to know his pet project of years ago had been realized, and that it would be possible to have a formal dedication of the cemetery. The local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy may communicate with Mr. Locke at Abilene, Texas, where he is president of the Colorado, Texas and Mexico railroad company.
TEXAS WOMAN AND SON LEARN THE FATE OF HUSBAND/FATHER AFTER NEARLY A HALF CENTURY - BURIED IN THE CONFEDERATE CEMETERY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 3, 1911
In Putnam, Tex., a wife now knows that she is a widow, after nearly half a century of wondering and waiting. She has found that her husband's body is buried at Alton, but for many years she did not know what had become of him. Doubtless there never entered her mind a thought that her husband had been faithless to her and had abandoned her, although that might have been a conclusion she could have reached. Her husband was a Confederate soldier, and was among those who were buried in the old burying ground in Alton. Some time ago the Telegraph told of some correspondence between C. W. Milnor and Morris R. Locke of Abilene, Tex. Mr. Milnor had written to Mr. Locke, a former Jersey county resident and newspaper man, concerning the Confederate monument erected here by the Government. Mr. Locke immediately started a movement to have a big observance of the dedication of the monument at Alton, June 3, and through his efforts considerable interest was aroused. Mr. Milnor, at Mr. Locke's request, went to the burying ground one cold day, and copied off the bronze tablets the names of the Texas soldiers buried in the cemetery. This list he sent to Mr. Lock, who had it published in the Dallas News. Mr. Milnor has received a communication from Mr. Locke, inclosing a very interesting letter that was sent to him by J. F. Stephens of Putnam, Tex., which Mr. Milnor was requested by Mr. Locke to have published in the Telegraph. The letter telling its own story of long waiting with no tidings, and finally the long delayed news of the death of a husband and father being received is as follows:
Morris R. Locke, Abilene, Tex. Dear Sir: I write you to let you know that through your communication with C. W. Milnor of Alton, Ill., I have found out the whereabouts of my father, Henry M. Stephens, whose name appears in the list of dead soldiers (buried at Alton). My father was a volunteer from Kaufman county, Tex. He was detailed to take care of a sick man in Louisiana and started to the company, but was never heard from again. His absence has always been a source of sadness to my mother, who is still alive and in her 76th year. I never remember seeing my father, as I was born in 1861. I certainly wish I could make the trip and be with them on June 3, next, for I have wondered many times what became of my father. Yours truly, J. F. Stephens.
Copyright Bev Bauser. All rights reserved.