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June 19, 2022

Hamilton County’s Connection to Juneteenth

Written by Hamilton County Historian, David Heighway

Following up on last year’s Juneteenth Day post, there is new information that has been produced.  The first comprehensive list of African American Civil War soldiers from Hamilton County was put together by Lezli Davis and myself.  It has 46 names at present and the stories of each of these soldiers are being explored.

Some of them have been noted in the past.  The 1868 monument at Crownland Cemetery was possibly the first memorial in the United States to recognize the contributions of Black soldiers to the war.  However, it has only 11 names out of the 46 now known and some of the names are misspelled.  Still, for the time, it was a nice gesture.

Crownland Monument

Five of the people named on the monument could possibly have been in Galveston on June 19, 1865 – William Bailey, John Hord, John Mitchell, Stephen Outland, and Richard Roberts.  We are collecting their stories now.  We don’t even know yet where William Bailey and John Mitchell are buried.  We do have information on others.  I’ve written about John Hord and his brothers before.

Besides the monument, it’s possible to visit soldiers’ graves at Riverside Cemetery, Crownland Cemetery, Roberts Settlement, and elsewhere.  For example, another Galveston veteran, George Dempsey, is buried at Riverside Cemetery.  I’ve written about him and his son Charles before.    It’s interesting that Charles had a extensive military career as a Buffalo Soldier and in the Spanish-American War.

Names of the African American soldiers on the Crownland Monument

Gooding T. Newsom, (1837-1895) was a Galveston veteran with notable service.  He joined up with the 28th USCT in Indianapolis on December 24, 1863 – the day that enlistment opened.  His experiences during the war were significant.  He was probably at the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864.  He was wounded at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run on October 24, 1864.  He probably marched with the first troops into Richmond on April 4, 1865, and possibly followed that with the first Juneteenth Day. He is listed on the national African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C.  He has been completely forgotten in Hamilton County except by his relatives at Roberts Settlement where he is buried.

A copy of the list of soldiers is in the Indiana Room at HEPL, as well as the databases that were used to create it.  As more new information is discovered, there may be additions to the list.  That would be good as it is an important and interesting subject to highlight.