Sundown Trail salutes our fallen veterans on this Memorial Day

The Mystery of the Lone Civil War Grave

 

In April of 1973, I was driving down a dirt road near Grassy, Missouri, headed back to Highway 34 in Bollinger County.  Black River Electric Cooperative, my employer, had a branch office in nearby Marble Hill.  The day was coming to an end and I was anxious to check in with that office and head back home.  I can’t remember exactly what I was doing there.  I am sure it was in response to a cooperative member’s request for help with an electrical problem or a billing complaint.

A few hundred yards short of the highway, I glanced over at a scrub timber area to my left.  A lone white stone marker among the trees caught my attention.  It was strange and almost spooky. I stopped, grabbed my ever-present camera and walked out into the woods.  The inscription was brief and to the point with no dates.  It read: “W. Wood Union Soldier Died for his Country.”

Wood Gravestone Original

Photo taken in 1973.

 

Later as I worked in the area I quizzed locals about the grave.  No one seemed to know much about it.  The story that I eventually heard was that a group of soldiers escorting a wagon with a wounded soldier laying on a bed of straw approached a nearby farm and requested some fresh milk for the wounded man.  The farmer caught up a milk cow and extracted some milk for the soldier.  He raised up to a sitting position to drink the milk and died a short time later.  They buried his body just off the road.  For decades only a large rock marked his grave.

The grave was still unmarked as a nearby farm family left on a trip to town.  As they passed by when they returned that evening they noticed a new white marker was there.  Who placed it there?  That remains a mystery to this day.

Wood Gravestone 2

Photo taken at later time shows someone had decorated grave.


 

W. Wood was one of nearly six hundred thousand young men that lost their lives in a war with ourselves.  Let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of both Union and Confederate forces this Memorial Day.

Wood gravestone
 
 

Sundown Trail extends our thanks to Jeanie Layton of the Bollinger County Library at Marble Hill, for additional information.

 

 

 

Interesting facts about the area:

  1. The dirt road near the grave marker is part of the old Military Road that extended from Jackson, Missouri to Greenville, Missouri.  The original Greenville is now covered by the upper reaches of Wappapello Lake.  Greenville was relocated to just east of 67 highway near the lake.
  2. Originally the towns of Marble Hill and Lutesville were separated by a small creek, named Crooked Creek.  Marble Hill was the county seat.  The two towns existed side by side for over a century.  Finally in 1985 they were incorporated together under one name, Marble Hill.
  3. The timber industry has always been important to the area.  In modern times Lutesville and neighboring Glen Allen were the beginning of a burgeoning shipping pallet industry.
  4. The Civil War was particularly savage in Southeast Missouri.  Probably it was longer and even more ruthless for both sides than the much publicized Western Border area of Missouri.

 
 

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Categories: American History, Civil War, History, Military, Missouri, soldiers | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Sundown Trail salutes our fallen veterans on this Memorial Day

  1. Interesting story.

  2. My apologies to Jeanie Layton. I discovered a typo after this was published and her name was misspelled. It is correct now.

  3. Joe

    You indicate that the war in Missouri was more brutal in Southeastern MO than in the western part of the State. What are your sources for this comment?
    Thanks for an interesting site. I stumbled upon it reading about Osceola.

    • Joe: Thanks for reading Sundown Trail. I lived in Southeast Missouri for twelve years and I tend to absorb history wherever I live. I enjoyed living there. It is a beautiful area. I met a lot of nice people there. During the civil war homes there were also burned, towns destroyed, torturing, and killings by both sides. Some suggested reading: Autobiography Of Samuel S. Hildebrand, reprinted and published by Kessinger Publishing also, Sam Hildebrand Guerrilla, by Carl W. Breihan. William Monks: Union Guerrilla and Memoirist, by John Bradbury and Lou Wehmer. Keep in mind that at the time the Cypress swamps of the boot heel had not been cleared and drained. Both the flat land and the hills were occupied by small family farms. The people had mostly moved west from Kentucky and Tennessee. Most leaned to the Confederate side. Best wishes from the Sundown Trail.

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