Elon - A solitary veteran's grave on a farm hilllside just south of this Allamakee county crossroads settlement is usually well decorated for Memorial day each year.
That's because the headstone marking the final resting place for a veteran of the War of 1812 is right in the center of a large clump of lilac bushes on the Howard Kolsrud farm.
Precisely how the lilacs got there is no longer remembered. Presumably they were planted many years ago by someone who wanted to provide a floral tribute and a kind of semi-permanent marker for the veteran's grave.
Whatever the history, the lilacs have flourished and now cover an area 25 feet long and 5 feet through the center and stand 15 feet high.
In recent years, Birger Norman, who lives 1 1/8 miles east of here, has "looked after" the Reynolds grave. Norman, himself a veteran of World War I and now 68, has seen to it that a memorial flag was placed each Memorial day in the military flagholder which has stood for some years at the side of the white marble headstone.
Protected as it is by the large clump of lilac bushes, the grave of the War of 1812 veteran does not call for much maintenance. In the shelter of the lilacs there is no grass to cut, few weeds to pull around the headstone.
Last week Norman did cut a few of the liliacs inside the clump in the hope of allowing a glimpse of at least the outside of the headstone from the nearby road.
Records of the Veterans Administration, according to Mr. Norman, show that Joseph Reynolds, Jr., enlisted at Pawlet, Vt., and served from June 10, 1813, to June 10, 1814 in Pvt. Utley's company of the Vermont militia.*
Reynolds came to Iowa because of a government land grant in his favor made 36 years after he completed his military service. The grant carried the words "in full satisfaction for service rendered ...", presumably a military bonus of the day. The grant gave Reynolds 160 acres of land in Center township, Allamakee county, Ia.
It is believed that the War of 1812 veteran is buried on a spot of the land which originally was granted to him 108 years ago.
There is evidence to indicate that Reynolds came from the East to Iowa when he was 56 years old, settled on his grant-land and when his death occurred his was the first funeral conducted in the then new township and his interment was the first burial in the township.
For some years, only a few stones marked the veteran's resting place. Then, in 1935, a move to erect a marker was successful and the present headstone was set up.
Last week, Birger Norman, self-appointed custodian of the Reynolds grave, said that he expected to call the condition of the Ralph D. Watson post No. 62 of the American Legion in Waukon. Settling of the ground around the base has permitted the headstone to lean to one side. "This must be corrected," Norman said. "I expect to call the Legion post's attention to this need."
Birger Norman at the gravestone of Joseph Reynold, Jr.
Joseph Reynolds, Jr.
Pvt. Utley's Co.
War of 1812
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sunday, May 25, 1958 (article & photo) - transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall
*Reynold's was a Private, not Utley. This should read: "... enlisted as a Private in Capt. Utley's company of the Vermont militia"
Return to War of 1812 Records