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Civil War veteran from Parishville honored 101 years after his death


PARISHVILLE — For the past 101 years, the body of 81-year-old Civil War veteran Webster L. Howe lay in an unmarked grave in Hillcrest Cemetery.

While his family members’ adjacent grave sites were marked, Mr. Howe’s plot had only a plain stone that didn’t even bear his name, let alone pay tribute to his military service.

That changed on Friday, when the Parishville Historical Association and Parishville Amvets Post 265 dedicated a plaque with Mr. Howe’s name, along with a grave marker indicating that he served in the Union Army infantry.

Association President Joseph R. McGill said he learned of Mr. Howe’s service while helping Lee N. Houser, a descendant of the Civil War veteran, conduct genealogical research.

“I found an obituary for Webster Howe, and it said he was a Civil War soldier,” Mr. McGill said. “I thought he probably deserved to have a marked grave.”

And so began the process that took nearly three years to come to fruition.

“I had to get his service records, review the cemetery records and get a member of the family to agree to it,” Mr. McGill said.

“This was done with the help of many people,” Mr. Houser said, including Town Historian Emma Remington and Amvets members from Parishville and Massena.

“How often do you get to recognize someone who fought in the Civil War?” said Amvets Post 265 Commander Ron Ferguson. “It’s amazing to be a part of something like this and to honor someone after more than 100 years.”

Chaplain Larry Page agreed. “Things like this are very important,” he said.

Mr. Houser, who traveled from Clifton Springs for the service, said Mr. Howe had three brothers who also fought in the Civil War: Rufus, also buried here, David, who is buried in Wisconsin, and Russell, who is buried in Michigan.

“It means a lot to me that we’re finally honoring him after 100 years,” Mr. Houser said. “Every veteran should have a grave marker with their distinguished service on it.”

Mr. Houser said his family has a great tradition of military service.

“The Howe family has served in all our American wars, with military service dating back to the American Revolution,” he said.

Mr. Houser said he began studying genealogy about 20 years ago, after some cousins presented him with information that he didn’t think was accurate.

After he began studying his family history, he discovered that not only was his great-great-grandfather a veteran of the Civil War, but he had three brothers who were Civil War veterans.

Mr. McGill said Friday’s service wasn’t the first time Parishville has paid tribute to a soldier from long ago.

“Emma Remington has done 11 of these over the past 30-plus years,” he said. “When we found this one, I thought it was my turn to take the lead.”

While not all of the veterans had been buried in unmarked graves, Mr. McGill said, there was no indication of their military service at their burial sites.

“They’re all war veterans from the Revolutionary War, Civil War or World War II,” he said.

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