It started with a letter to Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Iowa President, Mike Rowley, from Harold Nevenhoven at the Brooklyn Memorial Cemetery in Brooklyn, Iowa. Nevenhoven had been given a link to our website listing the War of 1812 veterans who had lived in Iowa. He noted the name Christian Sowerwine was on our list of veterans, but did not have a proper headstone. Nevenhoven had ordered the headstone from the VA and now had it in his possession and was going to install it. Would the Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Iowa help with a proper dedication ceremony?
Rowley put a call out to the Sons of the American Revolution and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War asking for assistance. It all came together on Saturday afternoon, May 27, 2017, at the Brooklyn Memorial Cemetery.
Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Iowa members Rowley, Alan Wenger (also representing the Sons of the American Revolution), Danny Krock and Dan Rittel (both also representing the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War) along with members of the Brooklyn American Legion Post conducted a proper dedication ceremony for Christian Sowerwine’s new headstone.
Christian Sowerwine was born July 7, 1793, in Rockingham County, Virginia. He served in the 4th regiment of the Virginia Militia. In about 1834 or 1835, Christian and his brother John moved to Indiana. Four of their children were probably born in Cross Roads, Delaware County, Indiana. Christian’s first wife, Maria Good, died January 1838, in Indiana leaving him with nine children to raise.
Christian married Catherine Semer July 4, 1839, in Henry County, Indiana. She brought along her step-son Michael and her three daughters into a household that already had nine children. Quickly three more sons were added to their brood. Catherine died in 1852 and is buried in Indiana. He and his family moved to Iowa in 1856. At Brooklyn he farmed north of Brooklyn and operated a blacksmith shop.
At the time of the Civil War the Sowerwines offered their services. John, Jacob, Isaac and George served with the Union Army along with son-in-law James Maddy. Daughter Sarah’s husband, Michael Miller, served with the Confederate Army. John Sowerwine proved disqualified because of a crippled arm. Nevertheless, he served as a guard in the San Francisco harbor during the period of hostilities. Jacob Sowerwine was killed in the Civil War May 1, 1863 in Port Gibson, MS.
General Society of the War of 1812 In The State Of Iowa President Mike Rowley joined with members of the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries (SAPIC) at the signing of the Proclamation to declare May as “Cemetery Appreciation Month” by Iowa Governor and United States Ambassador to China nominee Terry Branstad.
President Rowley (far left in the photos) shared with the Governor the fact that members of the Iowa Society have documented nearly 900 veterans of the War of 1812 that are buried in the State of Iowa.
Photos by Chance McElhaney
On a beautiful July day, high a top a hill at the SAMS Cemetery in Jasper County, Iowa, it is clear enough to see the Principal Building in downtown Des Moines. Closer to the actual site members of the General Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Iowa, Iowa Sons of the American Revolution, the Iowa Military Heritage Society, the Iowa Department of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and other volunteers combined the research they had done with a little manual labor and saw to it that yet another previously unmarked Civil War veteran’s grave was graced with a granite VA supplied stone.
Robert Gannon, a Vietnam veteran is the man behind the project and a transcript and audio version of an NPR story on the subject can be heard at:
Plans are well underway for a very special occasion on September 24th, 2016 in which the public is encouraged and invited to participate.
Each year members of the Iowa Military Heritage Society meet in the southern part of the state to hone their skills live firing weapons of all era’s. A few Iowa Society of the War of 1812 members also belong to the Iowa Military Heritage Society.
Members qualified with a flint lock weapon of the Revolutionary War era as well as muskets from the Civil War era at both 50 and 100 yards.
After the formal morning session attendees had the opportunity for training and practice with the M1 Garand rifle of WWII era.
Iowa Military Heritage Society members pictured above: (back row) Jim Braden, Dave Sample, Richard Grim, David Lamb, Ron Rittel, (front row) Jeff Rassmussen, Louie Zenti, Mike Rowley.
GSW1812 member Don E. Stout is passionate about restoring the Old Rose Hill Cemetery in Mahaska County, Iowa. Many of the earliest pioneers and settlers in the county are among those buried there. Don first became interested in the cemetery following the death of his mother and his retirement from the United States Postal Service in 2004. Maintenance of the cemetery grounds had suffered for many years due to limited funding and a lack of younger volunteers to help with the physical work required.
Located near Rose Hill in rural Mahaska County, the cemetery fence lines had become overgrown with brambles, brush, and fallen trees. Trash and old floral arrangements littered the perimeter of the cemetery. The grounds had deteriorated to the point where the cemetery association was no longer able to sell new burial plots because of the overgrowth. Don became a member of the Old Rose Hill Cemetery Association Board of Directors in 2009 and was elected President of the Association soon after. He immediately set about recruiting several younger volunteers and Board members to help get the cemetery grounds back in shape.
To date, the fence lines have been cleared of brush and fallen trees. Scrub trees that had grown up along the fences are being cleared in preparation for the repair of the existing fences. Vegetation that had grown wild in the cemetery has been removed revealing new grave markers previously unseen. Don has also undertaken several new Board of Director initiatives. He drafted and worked to implement new Association By-Laws and General Cemetery Policies. With the help of his son, Don, a new website for the cemetery was created (www.oldrosehillcemeteryassociation.org). The website features original founding documents and cemetery history, announcements, current and vintage pictures, a list of veterans and a link to Findagrave.com where every burial in the cemetery and a picture of each headstone can be found. Early on, Don had ensured that everyone known to be buried in the cemetery had a memorial and picture on Findagrave.
He recently completed an extensive genealogy research project for everyone buried in the cemetery to ensure there was basic birth, death and family information on their Findagrave memorial.
Don, whose parents, grandparents, gr-grandparents and gr-gr grandparents are all buried in Old Rose Hill Cemetery, continues to travel there several times a year from his home in West Des Moines to work with other volunteers. He is a firm believer in the importance of remembering those that came before and the sacrifices they made to ensure the freedoms and prosperity we enjoy today.
Pictured above L-R are ORHC Association Board members and volunteers Tyson Stout, Barry Stout, Don D. Stout and Don E. Stout. The men were in Old Rose Hill Cemetery to spend the day cutting trees and burning brush. They are shown at the grave of their ancestors George Washington Stout and his wife Mary Moore Stout. G.W. Stout settled in Mahaska County in 1855 after leaving his home in Union County, Ohio.
Members of the Society of the War of 1812 were on hand this past Sunday (June 24, 2012) to help honor the memory of Abraham “Abel” Galland at a small pioneer cemetery in northwestern Shelby County, Iowa.
Abel Galland was born in the State of New Jersey. He served in the War of 1812. Abel came to Kanesville with the Mormons in 1846. In the fall of 1846, Abel followed an Indian trail, northeast of Kanesville, now eastern Council Bluffs, parallel to the Mosquito Creek, to a location called “Six Bee Tree Grove” just north of the present day Manteno Park. Since the pioneers, in place of sugar, used honey, trees in which bees store honey were highly prized.
In 1847, Abel returned to Kanesville with a wagon load of honey after the local people heard about the trees, honey and the opportunity for religious freedom, they followed him back to the Galland’s Grove area.
In 1848, Abel Galland and his son-in-law, William Jordan, built the first log cabin in Shelby County. Abel died June 22, 1857. Abel is buried in Gallands Grove. ~ Copied from the program for The Abel Galland Memorial Cemetery Unveiling
Volunteers headed by Ron Chamberlain of the Western Iowa Pioneer Cemetery Association (WIPCA) and others in the local area have spent countless hours in researching the location of this little cemetery – located in a field behind where early pioneer settlers came to worship – and working to find and mark graves, clean up the area and erect a fence and brick path. Their hard work was “unveiled” on a hot Sunday afternoon to a large and happy crowd including direct descendant Roger Galland and his wife Virginia who traveled from Utah to attend the ceremony.
Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Iowa members Mike Rowley, Danny Krock and Dan Rittel took part in the ceremonies and our member-of-the-year Ron Rittel was also in attendance and took some of these pictures.
Dan Rittel, also a member of WIPCA, acted as master of ceremonies. Danny Krock and Mike Rowley (Rowley in War of 1812 uniform) stood with the honor guard from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, of which both Krock and Rowley are also members, for a veteran’s headstone dedication after the official unveiling of the cemetery by WIPCA. Also present were honor guards from the following American Legion Posts: Defiance/Westphalia Post #707, Dunlap Post #224, Earling Post #615, Elk Horn Post #322, Panama Post #601, and Portsmouth Post #547.
For his part, Mike Rowley read the Proclamation from the City of Dunlap and short biographies of four veterans of the War of 1812 buried in Harrison County, Iowa, that was prepared by the Harrison County Genealogical Society.
The event was very well attended by local residents, representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Community of Christ Church and several members of the Crandall and Roundy families who had gathered that weekend for a large family reunion. After the ceremonies, guests were treated to ice cream (provided by Blue Bunny) and cookies and lemonade or iced tea provided by WIPCA volunteers.
More pictures of the event can be seen on the Facebook page for the Abel Galland Memorial Cemetery.
Just two days before the 200th Anniversary of President James Madison’s signing of the Declaration of War against Great Britain, which occurred on June 18, 1812, the Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Iowa was honored as General Society President General Lawrence Casey presented our Charter in a joint meeting with the Iowa Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Ron Rittel was named Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Iowa “Member of the Year” (our first!) for his countless hours of research and organization in attempting to track down as many War of 1812 veterans as possible who lived and are buried in the State of Iowa. To date, we are aware of over 480 veterans buried here in Iowa.
The joint meeting with the Sons of the American Revolution was held on Saturday, June 16, at the Gold Star Museum on the grounds of the Iowa National Guard’s Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. Participating was Iowa SAR member Senator Charles Grassley who was kind enough to join us for a picture.