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
and of his step-grandfather's efforts to honor Reeder with a plaque
service in the Civil War. Reeder's niece, Hazel, who is 101, is seated
from left, and remembers her uncle as a quiet man. Her father, Henry
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
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
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
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.