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Unmarked graves of two Milwaukee Civil War veterans get headstones during 2019 Doors Open

The unmarked graves of two Civil War veterans from Milwaukee who died in the 1800s finally received their tombstones at a dedication ceremony during Doors Open on September 28 at Forest Home Cemetery.

Sgt. Horace Dangerfield, who served in the 13th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, Company F, died in 1893. Cpl. Edward Allen fought with the 43rd Wisconsin Infantry, Company A, and died of disease in Tennessee in 1865. Their cemetery plots had gone without a marker for nearly a 150 years.

“I’m a veteran and there is an unwritten rule, you leave no veteran behind,” said historian Tom Ludka. “You take care of them and their families, and their memory. That’s part of our motivation for installing these headstones. But another reason is because we are losing our history, and one day we will be gone. These stones will be here, and hopefully, that history will not be lost.”

Along with historian Marge Berres, Ludka has identified 1,000 Civil War Union veterans buried at Forest Home Cemetery, including 80 who died during the war. The two researchers started the Adopt-A-Soldier program in 2013, which offers a reduced cost of setting headstones for the 200 soldiers who were missing identification of their burial plot. Over the past 6 years, they have raised funding to pay for 186 markers, with 54 in 2019 alone.

“This ritual is based on what the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) itself used,” said Tom Mueller, commander of the Milwaukee chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans. “These very words were repeated many times on this very hallowed ground in the late 1800s and early 1900s as old soldiers buried their comrades.”

After the war, Dangerfield worked as a railroad porter. He was listed in 1880 census records with a wife and a couple children, and living in Milwaukee. He was born in Mexico and died in Milwaukee at the age of 55.

Edward Allen was from Merton in Waukesha County, and began his service to the Union on August 27, 1864. The 43rd Wisconsin Infantry left the state in October 1864 and defended railroads in Tennessee. Allen died of disease on January 14, 1865, at Clarksville in northern Tennessee, at the age of 29. He was transported back to Wisconsin and buried at Forest Home a month later.

The markers for Dangerfield and Allen were paid for by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), C.K. Pier Badger Camp #1. The organization helped install the first two headstones in the Adopt-A-Soldier program, and have assisted in funding almost a dozen since. In June of 2016, Company F, 29th Infantry Regiment of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) sponsored a headstone for Pvt. William Reed. The Doors Open dedication ceremony was the first time both organizations have honored Civil War veterans together.

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