A Tribute To Our Veterans from the Bay City Times & Saginaw News

A Tribute To Our Veterans from the Bay City Times & Saginaw News


Bay City Civil War heroes to be honored during Memorial Day ceremonies

Published: Saturday, May 28, 2011, 7:00 AM

 By Tim Younkman | The Bay City Times 

Michael Randolph | The Bay City Times I Fred Welsh will give a tour of Pine Ridge Cemetery on Memorial Day, and will highlight the resting places of several notable Bay Cityans.

BAY CITY — Heroes of the Civil War, along with the city’s pioneers, whose graves occupy historic Pine Ridge Cemetery will be remembered during Memorial Day ceremonies Monday.

Some Civil War veterans will have new markers — one for the first time ever — in the Soldiers Rest section of the community’s oldest cemetery.

An honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars will conduct a Memorial Day ceremony beginning at 10:30 a.m. to be followed at 11 a.m. by the unveiling of a plaque from the Michigan Historical Society citing Pine Ridge as a significant historic site and Civil War veterans burial ground.

“The plaque was obtained through the efforts of David Rogers and the Bay City Rotary Club helped support it with a community grant,” said local history buff Eric Jylha. He said the restoration and maintenance of the cemetery is being undertaken by a number of organizations and individual volunteers.

Civil War history researcher Jim Petrimoulx of Bay City has worked to get grave markers replaced for some veterans whose markers have been damaged, and in some cases has obtained markers for veterans whose descendants had lost track of the graves.

“We were contacted by some families looking for relatives’ graves, of men who served during the Civil War, and we located the graves for them,” Petrimoulx said, adding one veteran had no marker at all, but a search of some sketchy historical records indicated where he was buried.

The new engraved stones mark the gravesites of Pvt. Truman Rundell, of Co. I, 23rd Michigan Infantry Regiment; Pvt. William Maxson, Co. D, 10th Michigan Cavalry Regiment; and Pvt. Joseph Birch, Co. D, 27th Michigan Infantry Regiment.

“One man who called was related to both Rundell and Maxson,” Petrimoulx said. Jim Orr of Fort Collins, Colo., is the great-grandson of both men. I also heard from a cousin of Maxson, Cynthia Clein, of Pontiac. She plans to attend the ceremony.”


Rundell Truman, Bay County Civil War veteran buried at historic Pine Ridge Cemetery

Also planning to visit the Civil War section Monday is Alice Emmrich of Bay City, a relative of Birch.  Petrimoulx said Birch’s grave never was marked before but records showed where it was in the Soldiers Rest area and he was able to find it and place the new marker.

The veterans’ markers were made available through the U.S. Veterans Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Petrimoulx said.

Two other grave sites in Elm Lawn Cemetery also have new markers, he said, and others are being researched and will get new markers soon.

So far, through Petrimoulx’s efforts, 75 veterans’ graves have been marked with new stones.

Visitors on Monday also can go on a guided tour of Pine Ridge Cemetery following the ceremonies. They’ll be escorted by Bay County Historical Museum volunteer Fred Welch, who provides a narrative on numerous people whose remains are buried in the cemetery. He will emphasize the Civil War veterans.

“We will talk about the Birney family,” Welch said.  Judge James Birney was responsible for creating the cemetery, and he and some members of his family are buried there, along with a number of the community’s pioneers.  


Michael Randolph | The Bay City Times Avery Denison, served in the war of 1812.

The walking tour will stop at many of the pioneer graves, where Welch will talk about their lives and contributions to the community. One of the narratives focuses on Andrew Walton, who was with Berdan’s U.S. Sharpshooters, a Civil War elite combat unit.

Welch said when the tour stops at Soldiers Rest, he also will point out a number of soldiers with interesting stories, including a member of the U.S. Colored Infantry.

“There also are some children’s graves where we will stop and some others of seafaring people. There are many interesting stories to be told.”

The cemetery, at 198 Ridge Road near North Tuscola Road, has been cleaned and maintained by volunteers from the New Dimensions center and a project of rebuilding some of the stone barriers around the family gravesites will be undertaken starting next week by students from a Delta College construction trades class.


Oldest Saginaw Civil War veteran lived to be 91; married woman 50 years younger

Published: Sunday, April 10, 2011, 9:30 AM     Updated: Monday, April 11, 2011, 1:54 PM

 By Lindsay Knake | The Saginaw News 

Saginaw News file photo In this 1961 photo, Catherine Dunn looks at photos of her late husband, Nelson Dunn. He was the last remaining Civil War veteran in Saginaw. Nelson Dunn died at age 91 in 1941. His much younger wife died at age 78 in 1973.

SAGINAW — Saginaw’s longest-lived Civil War veteran had a brush with death but returned home to live for decades, finding love late in life.

This year is the sesquicentennial of the start of the war between the states.

Nelson Dunn served for about a year with Michigan’s 23rd Infantry after enlisting in the fall of 1864 at 16. He came through the war unscathed but came close to death when a bullet went through his hat. He was unharmed but scared.

After the war, Nelson Dunn operated a toll bridge over the Tittabawassee River for 10 years and spent 24 as a bookkeeper for W.L. Case.

Dunn was 70 when he married 25-year-old Catherine Louise Sherping in 1919. His wife worked as a matron at Saginaw High School, providing health services.

Dunn was 91 when he died in 1941.

She said in a 1961 interview with The Saginaw News that their 50-year age difference was never an issue.

Her admiration for the neighboring “boy in blue” turned into love, and the couple spent a happy 22 years together. They had no children.



Saginaw News file photoThis 2006 photo shows the Civil War memorial at Oakwood Cemetery in Saginaw Township. Saginaw's oldest Civil War veteran, Nelson Dunn, is buried there.

A proud veteran, Nelson Dunn marched in every Memorial Day parade until he was bedridden in his late 80s. He always had an American flag at his side.

His wife said Dunn never stopped talking about his experiences in the war. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Saginaw Township.

After his death, Catherine Dunn spent years fighting to receive her federal widow’s pension. A 1961 Saginaw News article stated she had received it a few years earlier.

Dunn spent her years alone crocheting — she knitted sweaters for World War I soldiers and the yarn made her sneeze — and at her church. She was 78 when she died in 1973.


Freeland Civil War soldier's letter to brother praises effort of horses

Published: Sunday, April 10, 2011, 6:00 PM     Updated: Monday, April 11, 2011, 1:58 PM

 By Lindsay Knake | The Saginaw News 

FREELAND — When one Freeland man serving in the Civil War wrote to his brother in 1863, the soldier praised the unsung heroes of the War of Rebellion — the horses.

Thomas D. Thompson sent his final letter to his brother, John Thompson of Saginaw, from Picket Line, Rappahannock, Va., dated Aug. 19. The Saginaw News reprinted the letter Nov. 17, 1918, as part of a series of readers’ wartime letters it published during that time.

Thomas Thompson was captured by Confederates and taken to Libby prison, where he died of disease and starvation. John Thompson died sometime in 1918.


“Brother John: I presume I should have written you before this, but we have been driven pretty hard. We left Washington July 6 and we have not had much leisure time since then. You may understand something about it when I tell you that I am now riding my fifth horse. I tell you the horses have to suffer in the army! They have to march whole days sometimes without anything to eat, and the load they have to carry, two blankets, one poncho overcoat and change of underwear, one harvest sack with three days’ ration most generally, one canteen, one carbine gun, one small spider, then, of course, the saddle and saddlebags and a nosebag for the horse to eat from, sometimes a feed of grain. Then comes the man, with saber and saber belt, revolver, cartridge box and all necessary apparatus for gun and revolver. All this makes a right smart load. But I have a fine mare now, one that can stand it if any of them can. I found her way up in the mountains when we were hunting after old Mosby. We did not get him but we did get some of his men. This mare is the best one I ever saw and if I had her back in Saginaw I wouldn’t take $200 dollars for her.

“We are just this side of the river from Fredericksburg, the very place from which Burnside’s army retreated after the battle of Fredericksburg last fall. They wintered here last winter.

“I saw Dan McNoughton yesterday. He is regimental quarter master-sergeant and has a first rate berth. It is some advantage to be a sergeant. They don’t have quite as much to do as a private and they get $4 more pay a month. They have to be steady through, and always on hand, ready when wanted. I am acting in that capacity now.

“John Smith is with us now. I had not seen him since we left Washington.

“This is all for this time. And, now, wishing you and your people all the enjoyment is it possible for mankind to enjoy, I bid you formal farewell.

“Your brother,


(working on getting the pictures into the story)