« The last man standing made Duluth home | Main | Discovering Melvin Riley Baldwin »

Veteran’s story resonates well past his time

DCN Correspondent

A trip out to Greenwood Cemetery is well worth the drive. Located south of Superior on Wisconsin Hwy. 35, it houses grave sites dating back to the early 1900s.

The wind in the cemetery during February is unforgiving, even with the ancient trees scattered around. I lasted about 5 minutes. Digging around in the snow with my back to the wind, I uncovered the gravestone of Miles P. Clark.

Miles lived from 1826 to 1906, resting in one of the oldest parts of the cemetery. His most visible neighbors are World War I veterans with their gravestones surrounding a tall memorial, peaking halfway up through the snow. Miles was a fifer in the Civil War with the 4th Regiment of the Minnesota Infantry.

While I don’t sense Miles left this world a lonely man, I do wonder what role his family played in his life. I found no evidence of marriage, even though his obituary cited a son, O.H. Clark, and a daughter, J.C. Ashby. He lived with Mrs. Ashby for the last ten years of his life. Miles died in her home on Ogden Avenue at the age of 81 following a four-month battle with tuberculosis, which the obituary referred to as “illness of consumption.?

Unlike many of his peers, Miles got an obituary and a short article about his funeral. The obituary emphasized that he was active in the community up until the time of his illness, particularly with the Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.), a fraternal organization for Union Civil War veterans.

The funeral story illustrated how friends honored Miles’ memory.

"At the grave site, G. A. R. performed the military burial ceremony and by request of the dead, Comrade Major A. S. Eaton spoke a few words. After the major’s words, a squad from Company I fired a salute to the dead and trumpeter Walter Earnshaw played taps. Following the musical sound off, members of the post filed by the open grave, with each dropping a flower on the casket."

This biographical sketch was written for the Research for Reporters class at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Each student in the class went to a cemetery in Duluth, got a name from a grave marker, and then used a variety of primary and secondary sources to find out as much as possible about the person.