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Gettysburg infantryman, James Francis Towner, Remembered and Honored 147 years later

Gettysburg infantryman, James Francis Towner, Remembered and Honored 147 years later

By Sue Hunter Weir In April 1932, members of the Minneapolis Cemetery Protective Association (MCPA) ordered a military marker for James F. Tower, a man they believed to have been a Civil War vet. When the marker arrived they had it set on the grave of a man named John K. Tower where it has been ever since. No one, it seems, noticed that the first name on the marker was James, not John. Private James Francis Towner (not Tower), the man that the MCPA thought that they were honoring, has been buried in an unmarked grave in a different section of the cemetery since 1865. Private James Francis Towner was a veteran of Company K 1st Minnesota Infantry; he was mustered in at Fort Snelling on April 29, 1861. James Towner was one of the 215 (out of 265) men from the 1st Minnesota who were wounded at Gettysburg in July 1863. The inscription on the 1st Minnesota”'s monument at Gettysburg sums up the vital contribution that these men made to the Union cause: “In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war.” James Francis Towner was one of the men who made that charge. He recovered from his wounds and re-enlisted on March 23, 1864. Six months later he was captured by Confederate soldiers at Reams Station and sent to a prison camp in Salisbury, North Carolina. Like thousands of other Union soldiers in the camp, he suffered from chronic diarrhea caused by unsanitary conditions (an estimated 5,000 unidentified Union soldiers died in the camp and are buried in mass graves nearby). Towner was transferred to a Confederate hospital in Richmond, Virginia on February 25, 1865. Medical staff realized that he would never be well enough to return to his military unit; he was paroled at Coxey”'s Wharf on March 10, 1865 and began his journey home. He never made it. On April 5, 1865, he died at LaCrosse, Wisconsin, only 160 or so miles from home. He was 21 years old. (more…)

Deaths of entire family grieves Cora Stickney Deaths of husband and three children within 15 years grieved Cora Stickney greatly highlighted by 80 day vigil of daughter”'s “trance”

Deaths of entire family grieves Cora Stickney Deaths of husband and three children within 15 years grieved Cora Stickney greatly highlighted by 80 day vigil of daughter”'s “trance”

By Sue Hunter Weir It wasn”'t often that the death of someone buried in Layman”'s Cemetery was reported in the New York Times, but the story of Cora Stickney”'s burial was a most unusual, almost gothic, tale. Cora was the daughter of John H. and Ann Stickney; her parents were transplanted New Englanders, who moved to Minnesota shortly after the Civil War. Mr. Stickney was a Civil War veteran who served in the 16th Maine Infantry. After arriving in Minneapolis he went into business but by the early 1870s was in poor health, and on March 20, 1876, two weeks shy of his 34th birthday, he died of “quick consumption”. Less than six months later their youngest son and namesake, John Hanson Stickney, died from scarlet fever at the age of two. Ann Stickney went to work as a teacher to support her two surviving children, Cora and William. The 1880 federal census shows that Cora, then age 12, was no longer in school but working as an apprentice to a hair dresser. The work must not have appealed to her because by 1885 she was working as a bookkeeper for Calhoun and Long, a dry goods company. In November of 1886, 19-year-old Cora became sick, and on November 30, 1886, the city Health Officer determined that she had died and issued a burial permit. Cora”'s grief-stricken mother refused to accept the fact that her only daughter had died and managed to persuade an undertaker to bring Cora”'s body back home. Ann Stickney was convinced that Cora was not dead but was merely in a trance and that faith and prayer would bring Cora back to her. In February 1887 the city Health Officer received reports that Cora had not yet been buried. When he went to the family”'s home, Mrs. Stickney wouldn”'t allow him in. A doctor, L. R. Palmer, was also convinced that Cora had not died; he offered as evidence the fact that Cora”'s body did not show any signs of decomposition. He said that he had consulted with other doctors [...]

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