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Civil War veteran from Parishville honored 101 years after his death

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PARISHVILLE - For the past 101 years, the body of Webster L. Howe laid in an unmarked grave in the Hill Crest Cemetery.

While the grave in front of Mr. Howe’s, belonging to his brother Rufus, was marked with Rufus’ name, as well as that of his wife and two other members of his family, Mr. Howe laid in rest behind his little brother underneath a simple stone that didn’t even bear his name, let alone pay tribute to his military service.

That all changed though on Friday, when the Parishville Historical Association teamed up with Parishville Amvets Post 265 to dedicate a plaque bearing Mr. Howe’s name, along with a grave marker indicating that he served in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865 alongside his brother.

Association President Joseph R. McGill said he first learned of Mr. Howe’s service while helping a great, great nephew of the Civil War veteran, Lee N. Houser, do some genealogy 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,” he said, adding Mr. Houser thought it was a great idea.

“This was done with the help of many people,” Mr. Houser said, adding Mr. McGill was assisted in his efforts by Town Historian Emma Remington and members of the Amvets from Parishville and Massena.

How often do you get to recognize someone who fought in the Civil War?” asked Parishville 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 was in attendance at the service, traveling from Clifton Springs.

Mr. Houser said Mr. Howe had three other brothers who also fought in the Civil War - Rufus; 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 that dates back to the American Revolution.

“The Howe family has served in all our American wars with military service dating back to the American Revolution,” he said. Webster’s great, great grandfather served with the Vt. Militia in the American Revolution. All three of his brothers, including my great, great grandfather Russell Seymour Howe were American Civil War veterans.”

Mr. Houser said he began studying genealogy about 20 years ago, after some cousins presented him with some 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 other brothers who were also Civil War veterans.

For Massena Amvets Post 4 Commander Francis “Bud” Byington, Friday marked the first time he has participated in a ceremony honoring a veteran of the Civil War.

Mr. Byington traveled to Parishville with other members of the Amvet’s rifle squad to participate in the service.

“I’ve done more than 700 of these, but this is the first time I think we’ve done one for a Civil War veteran,” Mr. Byington said,

Mr. McGill said Friday’s service wasn’t the first time Parishville has paid tribute to a soldier in the years following his death.

“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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