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Story from The Reflector

Thanks to Marvin Case of The Reflector for
letting us post this published story on our web page.

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The Reflector by clicking below on the name.

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Battle Ground, WA
Senior Lifestyles
August 20, 2008
Page A7

Civil War vet's grave gets headstone
Bill Myers, staff reporter


Thanks to the persistence of Kay Scholz, a small town historian in Clark County, WI, a Civil War veteran in Clark County, WA no longer lies in an unmarked grave at the Sara Union Cemetery near Ridgefield.

An upright marble gravestone, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, now marks the grave of August Wetzstein, a Sara area resident in the early 190s who fought with the Union Army during the Civil War.

Scholz said she found the name of August Wetzstein on an 1880 census in the township of Sherwood in Clark County, WI, while compiling a short history of the area about eight years ago.

Scholz said she learned that Wetzstein was a Civil War veteran who had hired her husband’s great-grandfather to do logging work in 1876. She said records in Clark County Wisconsin indicated that her husband’s German-born geat-grandfather, Albert Homernick (a name later changed to Scholz), had filed a lien on logs owned by Wetzstein in an effort to collect wages owed to him. Scholz said this record is the only way that her family learned that her husband’s ancestors were named “Homernick.”

Scholz said August was born in Germany and lived alone when he sold his Wisconsin property in 1884. While there, he operated a farm and had a mail route. She said it seems that August had been married previously in Illinois to a girl named Augusta. The couple moved to Wisconsin and had several children but apparently split up in 1873. Scholz found records of two sons, William and Edmund, who lived to adulthood but apparently had no surviving descendants. She found no records of the other children.

August fought in the Civil War with Co. G. Wisconsin 7
th Infantry for three years, said Scholz. She said records show that he also served with the Mississippi Gunboat Flotilla in 1863, and was a member of Company I, New York 8th Cavalry during his last few months of military service.

“Last spring I decided to do more research to find out what became of August.” said Scholz. She said she found his name on census reports from Clark County, WA in 1900 and 1920. From a volunteer genealogy website and with help from a genealogist, Scholz learned that Wetzstein was buried at the Sara Union Cemetery in Ridgefield.

Wetzstein farmed in the Whipple Creek area, and lived the remainder of his days in Washington as a single many, said Scholz. She said he died in March 1914 at a Vancouver hospital.

Scholz found an obituary in a Vancouver Weekly Columbian newspaper dated March 26, 1914 which said, “The funeral of August Webstein, age 73 years, who died on the 10
th, took place at the Sara cemetery on Friday, March 13. He was an old war veteran and had been ill for some time. He was born in Germany in 1835. Rev. A.W. Wilson officiated at the services.”

Scholz said the obituary misspelled Wetzstein’s surname and gave an incorrect age and birth year. There were no descendants in the area to help with dates at the time of his death, she said. She said her research proves that the man buried in Sara Union Cemetery is August Wetzstein.

Scholz said a Clark County, WA records clerk told her that Fred Meyer was caretaker at Sara Union Cemetery. She contacted Meyer and said she would complete the necessary forms to have a Department of Veterans Affairs grave marker made for Wetzstein’s grave. She said she felt she owed the veteran a favor because her family learned the history of her husband’s name because of him.

Meyer, himself a World War II combat veteran, received the grave marker recently and installed it over Wetzstein’s grave. The marker is an upright marble monument engraved with the name of Wetzstein and his primary Civil War unit.

The Sara Union Cemetery was officially founded as a private cemetery in 1906 adjacent to a Seventh-day6 Adventist Church that is now a church of Independent Apostolic Lutherans. The cemetery is divided into two sections, with a Pioneer Section containing more than 400 occupied grave sites dating back to 1900 and a new section with about 200 grave sites. The cemetery is still active and operated by volunteers.

Cemetery records indicate that other Civil War veterans buried at the cemetery include Coleman J. Dasher, who served with Co. F, 5
th Illinois Cavalry; William Griffith, who was a sergeant in Co. D, 25th Missouri Infantry, and Thomas E. Snead, shown only as “Civil War vet.”

Veterans of subsequent wars are also buried there, with area pioneers.

The earliest year of birth of anyone buried at the cemetery belongs to Albert Bush who was born in 1815 and died in 1909. The earliest record year of death in cemetery is that of Maurice M. Hoff, who died in 1900.

The ancestors of many area citizens are buried at the cemetery including Joe and Muriel Kammer, grandparents of Jeff Kammer, the husband of Kay Kammer, city clerk and chief financial officer of Ridgefield, and Nina Mae Johnson, the mother of reporter Tom Koeninger of The Vancouver Columbian newspaper.

Meyer said efforts by area boy scouts at the cemetery have re-numbered rows at the Pioneer section of the cemetery where an American flag snaps in the breeze over grave sites.

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