Finding Lost Civil War Soldiers Graves

            I seem to have a knack for finding lost graves.  I can usually go to a cemetery in search of a particular name, say “Ok.  Help me find you.” And within minutes, I’m standing at their headstone.  That little knack helped me find the unmarked grave of three Confederate soldiers buried in Monroe’s Old City Cemetery. 

            Daniel T. “Dan” Head, Sr. was born in South Carolina, Camden District, in 1834.  He was the son of Martha Hughes and G.D. Head.  His sister, Martha E. was the wife of Joseph Perry Crosley of West Monroe fame.  Another sister married Joseph’s brother Cicero.  According to his obituary, Dan started working for his brother-in-law Joseph and then went into business for himself.  During the Civil War, Dan joined as a Sergeant in Company C, 2nd LA Infantry, known as the Pelican Greys.  This group saw action at the battles of Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness and Spotsylvania, finally surrendering at Appomattox.  After returning home, he married Fannie Hardy October 23, 1867 and they were the parents of five children:  Sarah “Sallie”, Daniel T. Jr., Joseph “Joe”, Robert, and Nettie.  Unfortunately, Dan, Jr. died just shy of his fifth birthday.  His little headstone can be found in the Old City Cemetery and I used him to find his father.

            Dan’s health began to decline.  Soon he was confined to his room with pernicious fever.  On December 9, 1878, Dan passed away leaving a grieving widow and four children.  He was buried in “…the Cemetery of this city.” according to his obituary.  The obituary listed four surviving children and “…one lies in the cemetery beside its father.”  This was my clue. 

            I looked at the map of the Old City Cemetery done in 1886 that shows all the plot owners at the time.  Sure enough, there was a D.T. Head plot.  Going out to the area of the cemetery it indicated, I found the grave of little Dan, Jr. and beside it were places that looked like the ground had been disturbed at one time.   I had found the unmarked graves of Dan, Sr. and his wife Fannie, who had died almost forty-one years after him.

            The second veteran was found by accident.  I had found the obituary of William Henry Awl who died April 13, 1934 in Monroe.  The information found in it was extensive.  William was born June 10, 1849 in Natchez, MS.  He came to Monroe as a young man and learned the brick-making trade.  He married Martha Louise Callum when he was 19.  He was a charter member of the Eastern Star lodge, a member of the Western Star and was a Royal Arch Mason.  He “…had the reputation of being one of the best versed men in Masonry in the entire state.”  When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted first as a courier and later served with the First Trans-Mississippi Cavalry.  This group saw service in the Indian Territory (later became Oklahoma) but did not engage in any fighting.  His obituary related he was within range of the sound of guns during the battle of Mansfield!  After the war, William became commander of Henry W. Allen Post No. 182, Confederate Veterans. 

During the last few years of William’s life he began to decline in health.  On April 13, 1934, just shy of his 85th birthday, William Henry Awl passed away.  He left behind two children:  Mrs. W.H. Gibbs and Sam H. Awl and four grandchildren:  Henry and E.B. Gibbs, William B. Awl, all of Monroe and Mrs. Roy Brice of Arcadia.  Four great-grandchildren also survived him.  He was buried with Masonic ceremony in the Old City Cemetery. 

I looked in the cemetery indexes to find a headstone, but found nothing. William’s wife Mattie who had died in 1922 had a headstone.  I found Mattie’s grave and noticed the plot, big enough for two, was outlined in stone.  Next to the grave of Mattie was an area of disturbed earth.  I had found William!

William now has a stone but I don’t know if Daniel got one too. If you know of an unmarked military veteran’s grave, the Federal government will provide one for free with the proper documentation.

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