Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Remembering Them and Celebrating Life

Memorial Day for our family history is on many levels "the day of the year."  So, how should I celebrate here on Indiana Ties?

A bit of history first: Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. As of 1971, by act of Congress, the date became the last Monday of May.
Today, most of us include moments of reverence and thankfulness for those who died for our freedom in our Memorial Day. But we have added many other types of weekend activities. And I think they all enhance the meaning, creating family history.  We have family/friend get-togethers. For those of us who grew up around or were fans of the Indianapolis 500-mile Race, we might have extra "Race Weekend" events. Across the country, there are tributes to all deceased veterans, including the traditional Air Force flyover at "the track."  Some of us make our visits to the cemetery and decorate the graves of our loved ones. Or maybe, the long weekend is a chance to just relax or plant flowers.  There are a lot of positive and exciting events connected with Memorial Day.  They can all be ways of celebrating life.

Now that I have my Indiana Ties blog, I've decided to add one more, for me that is.  I'm going to start my own tradition of  Family Memorial Days. After all, they are why I'm here.  On the 30th of each month I will write a memorial here for one of my family who was born or died that month.

I thought it appropriate that I choose as my first Family Memorial ~ Barney Kuhn ~ who died 25 May 1880 in Connersville, Fayette County, Indiana.  He was a Civil War veteran and my great uncle.  Barney did not die in the war but contracted a malarial type disease during his service in Louisiana. He died as a result of the disease that he fought for fifteen years after the war.  His widow proved, for pension purposes, by affidavits from those who served with him and doctors who treated him later, that his illness was connected with those miserable conditions that we know about from recounts of the Civil War.  He was 34 at the time of his death.

Barney, sometimes identified as Benedict, was born in Neustadt, Kurhessen, Germany in Aug, 1845.  He emigrated with his sister and brother in 1857.  Information is sketchy about his whereabouts between 1857 and 1860, but by 1860 he is in Connersville, Indiana, working and living on another man's farm.  He remains there waiting for his parents and other siblings to also arrive from Germany in 1862.

Barney was 19 years old when he enlisted in Co. A, 16th Indiana Infantry, in September, 1864.  He served until the regiment was mustered out in June of 1865. Most of that service involved duty in Louisiana.

After returning from the war, he was reunited with his parents and brothers and sisters in Connersville and went back to working as a farm laborer. From all indications he tried to make a normal life for himself, becoming a godparent for one of his nephews and seeking out a young woman to marry.  In 1870 he married Theresa Griener, a lady who had arrived in Connersville after the war.  Theresa and Barney's family grew to four children in the next ten years.  The records show that he was never fully recovered, having severe bouts of chronic pain in the stomach and bowels, enlargement of the spleen and bronchial cough.  He wasn't able to live out a full life with these afflictions and left his family without much means of support.  However, Theresa was able to attain a pension based on his medical problems and the circumstances of his death.

Barney Kuhn is buried in the City Cemetery, Connersville, Indiana.  R. I. P.

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