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|MYSTERY OF UNKNOWN SOLDIER, MARTIN M. MILES, LAID TO REST
by Mike Van Sickle
|Through the efforts of the Fayette County Historical Center and other
volunteers who pored over countless Census and military records, history
and plat books, loan, mortgage and death records, and microfilmed
newspapers, homage to a local Civil War veteran can now be deservedly
shared at Dover Public Cemetery.
The decades of speculation and research was mostly fulfilled on Friday, November 10th as a monument was carried to the resting place and longtime unmarked grave of Civil War veteran MARTIN M. MILES. Steve Story of Hawkeye, Iowa explains that the late W.H. Antes was among one of the early persons to inform West Union and Eldorado American Legion members that an extra small grave flag should be placed at an unmarked grave in the Dover Public Cemetery during Memorial Day ceremonies.
With due respect, Fayette County Pioneer Cemetery volunteers (l-r) Woodie Thomas, Richard Vagts, and Harvey Ungerer, were among those who helped install a monument at the formerly unmarked grave of Civil War veteran Martin M. Miles on Friday, November 10, 2011. To celebrate the unveiling of the Miles' monument, a dedication ceremony will be held at Dover Public Cemetery, located just north of Eldorado, on Thursday, November 17, 2011. (Mike Van Sickle photo)
|The legend continued in 1999, when the late Lloyd Wedo, an Eldorado
native and American Legion member, informed the Fayette County
Pioneer Cemetery volunteer workers of the unmarked grave. While
clearing brush and weeds, restoring broken stones, and building a
new fence at the local cemetery, the workers also “witched” for
disturbed earth with no headstone or footstone present.
Story, who himself utilizes witching (or dowsing) rods, notes that it was obvious to crew members who do the “witching” that there were several locations of unmarked graves in Dover Public Cemetery.
This past year, Fayette County Pioneer Cemetery and Fayette County Historical Center volunteers focused on uncovering the mystery of the local “tomb of the unknown soldier.” The primary roadblock in solving the mystery was that a number of records listed Martin Miles' last name as “MILLS”. A major breakthrough for the investigators occurred when Woodie and Kay Thomas of Wadena, Iowa found the name Miles in local military records. Later another volunteer stumbled across Miles' death notice in microfilm from the former West Union Gazette and West Union Argo-Gazette newspapers at the county's Historical Center in West Union, Iowa.
Fayette County Pioneer Cemetery Commission board member Steve Story
(far left) welcomed those attending the monument dedication ceremony
for Civil War veteran Martin M. Miles at Dover Public Cemetery on
Thursday. Also pictured are (l-r) West Union American Legion member
Don Leahy, Hawkeye American Legion member Harvey Ungerer, and the
Rt. Rev. Terry Landsgaard. After decades of speculation and
research, Miles' unmarked grave was recently identified at the
Pioneer Cemetery located near Eldorado, Iowa. (Mike Van Sickle
|The compiled history of Martin M. Miles now includes that the New York native originally enlisted in a Wisconsin Civil War Regiment. The soldier later moved with his family to the Eldorado, Iowa area, where he worked as a carpenter, farmer, and wheelwright. Martin M. Miles died in 1887 and is buried at the Dover Cemetery. Steve Story noted that local volunteers continue to compile the family history in the hopes of uncovering descendants of the Civil War Veteran.|
Harvey Ungerer, Fayette County Pioneer Commission board member; Major Ken Draper, Sons of the Union Veterans 2nd Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Cavalry; and Phyllis Holmstrom, Fayette County Historical Society board member, were among the local dignitaries participating in the monument dedication ceremony for Civil War veteran Martin M. Miles at Dover Public Cemetery near Eldorado on Thursday, November 17, 2011. (Mike Van Sickle photo)
|The compiled history of Martin M. Miles now includes that the New
York native originally enlisted in a Wisconsin Civil War Regiment.
The soldier later moved with his family to the Eldorado, Iowa area,
where he worked as a carpenter, farmer, and wheelwright. Martin M.
Miles died in 1887 and is buried at the Dover Cemetery. Steve Story
noted that local volunteers continue to compile the family history
in the hopes of uncovering descendants of the Civil War Veteran.
To celebrate the unveiling of the Martin M. Miles monument, a dedication ceremony will be held at the Dover Public Cemetery at 1 pm on Thursday, November 17, 2011. Two additional family gravesites, which were recently uncovered and received new monuments, will also be available for public viewing during the unveiling ceremony.
The local Pioneer Cemetery Dover Public Cemetery is located alongside Highway 150 near the Ron Koester's farm north of Eldorado, Iowa.
~ SOURCE: West Union, Iowa THE FAYETTE COUNTY
UNION, Tuesday, November 15, 2011
~ Contributor: Connie Ellis
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