Friday, November 03, 2006

Unraveling the mystery of a soldier's life

I took another trip to West Brookfield, Mass., yesterday, searching for secrets of the life of Civil War soldier Justus Collins Wellington, who was killed at the Battle of Antietam in 1862. Wellington, who served in the 15th Massachusetts, was a shoemaker from West Brookfield. Thanks to two helpful women (take a bow, Barbara and Nancy!) from West Brookfield, I was able to peel back another layer of the mystery of Wellington's life. In the town records, Barbara found that Justus' parents and siblings were buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, a rolling plot of land dotted with pines a short distance from the town common. Unfortunately, I could not find the graves of Justus' mother, father, sister and brother. Many of the names on the graves are worn from the elements and therefore indecipherable. Justus is not buried there, making it more likely than ever that he is in an unmarked grave, probably at the national cemetery in Sharpsburg, Md. Many members of the 15th, Nancy noted, are buried in unmarked graves there. Another soldier from the 15th, William Adams, is buried in the national cemetery in Sharpsburg. He also has a marker at Pine Grove Cemetery, and I snapped a shot of it above.

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