This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
Civil War Union Soldier To Be
Honored Memorial Day Weekend
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900

MAILED: May 13, 1999

EAU CLAIRE — A Civil War veteran long thought to have been a Confederate soldier will be honored on Memorial Day, when a Union marker is placed at his Eau Claire gravesite and area Civil War re-enactors pay tribute.
The ceremony was planned after a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student discovered as part of a history class that Lewis B. Young was in fact a Union soldier, not a Confederate as the marker placed on his Lakeview Cemetery grave indicates.
"I am assuming that it was a simple mistake," David Boyea, a senior journalism major and history minor from Cadott, said, adding that a person by the same name was a Confederate soldier from Tennessee. "They simply placed the wrong flag marker at his grave. We are working to correct the mistake."
As part of Dr. James Oberly's "Civil War and Reconstruction" class, Boyea and his classmates were required to research a Civil War soldier based on names found at the Lakeview Cemetery in Eau Claire. Oberly had mentioned that a Confederate soldier was buried in the cemetery and Boyea decided researching him would be an interesting project.
With Young's name, birth date and date of death in hand, Boyea went to work. Young's grave had no government headstone — which made sense if he was a Confederate — and it had a Confederate flag holder, known as a standard, Boyea said.
But Young's obituary identified him as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization dedicated to Union Civil War veterans. His association with GAR, Eagle Post No. 52, raised the first red flags in Boyea's mind. "It just didn't make sense that he'd be listed if he was a Confederate," he said.
Through additional research, Boyea discovered that Young, who was born in 1848 in Indiana, enlisted in the Union Army in 1864. He was assigned to the 87th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, which disbanded in 1865. He was then transferred to the 42nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry, which disbanded about a month later and Young was discharged while holding the rank of private.
In 1890, Lewis was living in Eau Claire but by 1895 he had moved to the town of Anthony, an Eau Claire County community that existed from 1888-1903. Later, he was farming in the town of Drammen in the southwest part of Eau Claire County.
After farming, Young retired to the city of Eau Claire in 1918. Young and his wife moved with their sons, Charles and William, to Cameron Street, where Young lived until he died in 1921. His wife, Sara, died in 1926.
With his research in hand, Boyea approached area Civil War re-enactors to see what could be done to correct the mistake at Young's gravesite. A Memorial Day tribute, during which a Union standard will replace the Confederate one, seems appropriate, Boyea said, noting that the shooting of the canons will be part of the ceremony. Boyea said he'd likely share a few words about Young's history with those who attend.
"It's been an interesting project," Boyea said of the research. "I ran into a lot of obstacles but that kept it interesting. It was actually easier than what some of my classmates went through. A lot of people tried everything but couldn't find out information about any of them."
While the results of Boyea's research were the most unusual, others in the class did uncover interesting stories about the Union soldiers they selected, Oberly said, noting that students waded through the snow in January to find headstones so they could get the soldiers' names, ranks and units. Many of the gravestones, he said, don't even have dates of the soldiers' births or deaths.
"There are 20 to 25 tombstones out there," Oberly said of the section of the cemetery where Union soldiers are buried. "There were just markers out there. The students start with the unknown and see where it takes them. These students tried to bring the stories of the soldiers' lives into history."
A number of the soldiers were from other states, Oberly said. "Some students were able to discover why they were in Eau Claire but others had no idea why they were here when they died," he said. "Some students were able to put together biographies of these men and their families but others found out nothing more than what they started with."
Some students could find no information about anyone with the name on the tombstone, leading many to suspect that names were misspelled in public records or on the grave's headstone. Others found some information but then lost the soldiers' trail for years on end. And still others learned about their soldiers' lives but could not figure out how they ended up in Eau Claire at the time of their deaths.
Some students will present their information to the Eau Claire area genealogical association, and others will leave their stories with the Chippewa Valley Museum, Oberly said.
"This is a great project," Oberly said, noting that he was particularly excited about Boyea's discovery and the upcoming Memorial Day ceremony. "This shows what can happen when you turn loose a group of UW-Eau Claire students."

UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741

Updated: May 13, 1999