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Ceremony honors Civil War veteran ...
John Clinton Reeder's grave now marked for history
By D.HICKMAN/Daily Journal Staff Writer
July 02, 2007 

Sons of Union Veterans fired three times in tribute to John Clinton Reeder 
as his family recorded the ceremony for their own history

The ceremony was late — by about 15 minutes and 73 years. That’s how long ago John Clinton Reeder died. Saturday, a special service honored his military years and a plaque now marks his grave designating him as a soldier in the Civil War.

Joe Bedwell, 10, gets a close-up look at a replica of a Civil War 
era gun and an explanation from one of the Sons of Union Veterans

His descendants joined with the Sons of Union Veterans at Little Vine Cemetery to pay tribute to the military service that might have been forgotten were it not for Reeder’s great grandson, Patrick Shellito. He was a boy when Reeder died in 1934 and remembered his great-grandfather was buried somewhere in the Farmington area. Shellito asked his step-grandson, Matt Bedwell, to find out where, so the  “old gent,” as Shellito called his great-grandfather, could receive the honor due him.

With help from Dorothy Shannon, a Farmington genealogist, the family found the grave and relatives they didn’t know they still had.

“I have a cousin who’s 101!” said Sandy Sutter, who came from Highland, Ill., for the ceremony. She is Patrick’s younger sister who said while her older siblings may have heard the stories of family members who served in the Civil War, she never did.

Lt. Commander Matt Bedwell reads about John Clinton Reeder 
and of his step-grandfather's efforts to honor Reeder with a plaque noting Reeder's 
service in the Civil War. Reeder's niece, Hazel, who is 101, is seated second 
from left, and remembers her uncle as a quiet man. Her father, Henry Clay Reeder,
was also a Civil War veteran.

John Reeder’s younger brother, Henry Clay Reeder, is also buried at the cemetery and his family had his grave marked with his Civil War service years ago. It is Henry’s daughter, the 101-year-old Hazel Reeder, who could provide the only remembrances of these Civil War veterans at the ceremony.

“Uncle John did not tell stories about his service in the Civil War,” she said. “He was quiet. My dad was a talker. He was not in any battles. They were so young when they served.”

She said she never dreamed the ceremony would happen, but she thought it was wonderful to honor history, as well as celebrate her family’s history. Her sister, Irene Cooper, is 105 but was unable to attend the ceremony.  The sisters live in Crystal City.

At about 10:15 a.m. Saturday, an honor guard of members of four chapters of the Sons of Union Veterans marched into the cemetery and stood at attention. Farmington’s McCormick Camp Commander Chris Warren led the 1917 GAR Headstone Dedication Ceremony as video cameras recorded the event for family history. The Sons of Union Veterans laid weapons, a canteen and wreaths on the grave. Representing the family, Sutter placed a rose on the grave and Warren added a flag.

Members of four chapters of the Sons of Union Veterans take part in a 
ceremony Saturday at Little Vine Cemetery to honor John Clinton Reeder. 
He enlisted in Pilot Knob in 1863 and served for two years as 
part of the Missouri Militia.

As Taps was played, the men dressed in Union attire raised their guns and fired, reloaded twice, and fired twice more.

Bedwell, who had come from Kansas City, told the crowd of about 50 people how Shellito had asked him to honor John Clinton Reeder, who was born Feb. 28, 1845 and died March 16, 1934.

“We know he served from Aug. 30, 1863 to July 13, 1865 and he enlisted when he was 18 years old at Pilot Knob,” Bedwell explained. “Records show he furnished his own horse.”

He said Private Reeder was part of the Third regiment of the Missouri State Militia that traveled the road from Fredericktown to Pocahontas, Ark. They fought no significant battles, but took part in a number of skirmishes. About half the unit’s soldiers died during their years of service. John Clinton and Henry Clay Reeder would organize one of the first Union Veterans groups in the country.

Tearfully, Bedwell turned from the crowd to the grave and saluted as he said, “Mission Complete. On behalf of great-grandson Pat and his sister Sandy, we honor your service.”

Shellito, elderly and living in Oregon, was unable to attend the ceremony.

Walt Bush, Department Commander for the Sons of Union Veterans for Missouri said such services are a new generation’s way of taking care of the past.

“One of the things concerning these Civil War veterans was who is going to share our stories and take care of our graves,” said Bush. The Sons of Union Veterans groups try to locate and record the graves and place the plaques that honor their Civil War service.

Joe Bedwell, 10, is Matt’s son who pronounced Saturday’s whole event, “awesome.”

John Clinton and Henry Clay Reeder’s brother, William Brent Reeder, is also thought to be buried at the cemetery. Anyone who may have information about his grave may contact Dorothy Shannon at 573-756-5632.

David Wampler of Horton-Wampler Funeral Home, ordered the plaque and assisted in placing it at the grave.

"I didn't even notice it," Sandy Sutter said of the fictional date listed 
on her great-grandfather's plaque from the U.S. government. 
It lists his birth date as Feb. 30. 1845, when in reality, 
it was Feb. 28 as there is no 30th day of February.