THE LAST CIVIL WAR SOLDIER TO BE BURIED IN NUCKOLLS COUNTY, NEBRASKA
A while back the Nuckolls County Historical Society and Museum was contacted by an organization named the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. The Nebraska Chapter has a project of identifying and recognizing the last Civil War Veteran to be buried in each of the 93 counties in Nebraska. Their records indicate the last Union Veteran to die and be buried in Nuckolls County, Nebraska was Private Charles Watson who was a member of Company F of the 13th Indiana Regiment of Infantry.
The Historical Society and Museum organized a local ceremony at Superior's Evergreen Memorial Cemetery for the afternoon of September 24th, 2023 and notified the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. They have many Civil War re-enactors and dress in period uniforms for these ceremonies and rituals. It turned out to be a beautiful day with sunshine, mild temperatures but it was a little breezy. Which was good for the flags.
The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War showed up and began getting themselves and their materials organized.
Once the ceremony began the acting Commander explained the purpose and mission of the Organization they represent, the units Chaplin said a prayer and Patricia Wagner, representing an organization called the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War offered a few words.
John Price Jr, representing the Nuckolls County Historical Society and Museum read Private Watson's obituary as it appeared in the Superior Express in 1936 and an additional story written by Private Watson about 1930 in which he talked about his experiences in battle and being wounded three times in three years of fighting.
Then the ceremony addressed Private Watson's gravesite. Tributes including an American Flag, a civil war soldier's backpack with bedroll and a musket were placed against the headstone and a prayer was said in the memory of Private Watson and all the others who have given their all for our country.
Then the gun salute:
It was a bit different hearing a firing salute done with muzzle-loaded rifles. It was certainly a lot smokier but just as reverent and meaningful as any other military salute.
After the conclusion of the ceremony the representatives of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War stayed around to answer hundreds of questions from the public and the press. There were actually three 3 count 'em three newspapers covering the ceremony. From the Superior Express, to the Hastings Daily Tribune and the Lincoln Journal Star.
And they all had nice write ups in their papers about the ceremony to recognize a Private who was just one of about a million soldiers who fought in a war to preserve our country. Private Charles Watson fought, survived then went out to build a stronger, more perfect union. And died 87 years ago. While we spent a part of one afternoon honoring Private Watson's memory and service it is part of the Mission of Organizations like the Sons of the United Veterans of the Civil War to remind everyone to take time to honor and remember the sacrifices of all the soldiers from all the wars. Something to ponder as Veteran's Day will be coming around in less than a month.
Lastly I would truly like to thank the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Daughters of the union Veterans of the Civil War for taking the time to drive all the way to Superior to put on such a reverent ceremony. The local folks appreciated their time, talent and dedication to this cause.
I would also like to thank my wife, Vicki Calahan Williams for taking the pictures in this posting. Without her help this would just be a story of words. Pictures have a way of adding so much to a story.