- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

WEBBERVILLE, Mich. (AP) - David Emmons, who grew up on a farm near Webberville, was 22 when he enlisted in the Grand Army of the Republic in January of 1864.

He served with Company B, 6th Michigan Heavy Artillery, and was discharged from the Union Army in 1866.

Emmons was on sick leave several times during his term of service and was hospitalized in 1864. After leaving the Army, he married and had three children. He died in 1888 at age 47, and was buried in Webberville Cemetery.

Shelly Kilroy Emmons was strolling through that cemetery on a summer weekend in 2011. She and her sister, Kristi, were looking among about 1,000 grave sites for those of relatives, according to the Lansing State Journal ( https://on.lsj.com/1eh2K6u ).

It was then that Shelly came upon her great-grandfather’s headstone. The name David Emens, 1839-82, was scratched deeply into a rectangular stone about 10 inches long and five inches wide.

Shelley said the dates on that marker were mistaken, and the last name apparently evolved into a new spelling over time, or the person who wrote it misspelled the name.

“This is pitiful … it’s just a hunk of stone,” Shelly recalls thinking. A Civil War veteran is certainly deserving of something more fitting, she reasoned.

That began what turned out to be a three-year effort that has produced a new maker at the grave and a special memorial service by the Sons of Union Veterans that will include a bugler on June 21 this year.

Shelly decided the date for the memorial after talking with family members and a representative from the Sons of Union Veterans. “I was told (by the Sons of Union Veterans) to not even think of trying to do it on Memorial Day,” she said.

Shelly, 53, a Grand Rapids resident, graduated from Webberville High School in 1979. Her interest in family genealogy turned into a fascination with her great-grandfather’s service during the Civil War after finding the grave site.

“He was 22 years old (when he enlisted), and according to description, he had blue eyes, sandy hair and was 5-foot-6 1/2 inches tall,” Shelly wrote in an email. There are no family photos available.

She learned from the National Park Service website that her great-grandfather’s unit was on garrison duty in Port Hudson, La., from the time he entered the service until June of 1864. His unit was also at Morganza, La., and Vicksburg, Miss.

She learned about the Sons of Union Veterans from an acquaintance at her job and was eventually put in touch with a Lowell man who was a member of that group at the time. He helped her fill out forms requesting a headstone from the Veterans Administration. He also took delivery of the headstone and drove it to Webberville and placed it.

“He refused travel and other expenses. He said he considered an honor to do it,” Shelly said.


Information from: Lansing State Journal, https://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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