By Colleen Lockhart
Something truly special took place this past Memorial Day, May 30, in Huntsburg. Civil War veteran William J. Armstrong who was buried in an unmarked grave in 1870, was honored for his service to his country as a long awaited headstone was placed on his grave in Huntsburg Cemetery.
While doing research in 2013, Carl Seliskar, then president of the Huntsburg Historical Society, discovered that there was a grave in Huntsburg Cemetery with no headstone. After much research and numerous requests for assistance from the U.S. Government, information concerning the life of William J. Armstrong came to light, along with his participation in the Civil War as a Union soldier who voluntarily served in the United States Colored Infantry, and the documents of his enlistment and discharge. After two official attempts requesting a government military headstone had been made, his headstone was recently delivered to the township.
After the traditional Memorial Day ceremony and parade, everyone was invited to follow the Burton American Legion, Chaplain Tony Stoltare and Color Guard to a special dedication at the newly marked grave of William J. Armstrong. The dedication held as a token of thanks for his service to his country and to acknowledge those citizens who so graciously assisted William and Joanna during their years in Huntsburg. Speaker Carl Seliskar shared what we now know of William and his wife, Joanna, who journeyed from the Maryland/Delaware area to live in Huntsburg sometime before 1864. William enlisted to fight for the Union in September 1864, serving in the United States Colored Infantry. William returned to Huntsburg after the war only to find that he had contracted tuberculosis and he died on Sept. 13, 1870. In 1873, when all debts were settled, Joanna was left with little or nothing and her whereabouts after that time is unknown.
Rev. Bob Barber from Huntsburg Congregational Church and Rev. Morris Eason from Round 1 Ministry in Chagrin Falls followed Carl’s opening remarks with thanks to William Armstrong and to all those who have given their lives in the service of their country, reminding us of the freedom we have in the United States of America thanks to those who served and are serving now.