Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Importance of U (A Part of the 7 Days, 7 Requests Series)

On my desk, I have a sticky note that has two words written on it. The words are “fried” and “friend.” Notice that the two words have much in common. In fact, except for one additional letter, an “n,” the two words are identical. But oh, what a difference that “n” makes. You would never mistakenly interchange the words in a sentence as in, “You are my best fried" or "I love friend chicken.” The addition or omission of the “n” is important.

So when I went looking for the grave of my great great grandfather Edward L. Jacobus, and found instead the grave of Edward L. Jacobs, I believed it should be corrected. Jacobs was not Jacobus. The missing “u” mattered.

Edward Jacobus enlisted for service August 2, 1862 in Henry County, Ohio. The harness maker reported to Camp Toledo on September 1. A member of Company B of the 100th Infantry Regiment Ohio, he was detached for duty to the Quartermasters department on September 21. By the November muster roll, he had rejoined his company stationed in Kentucky, where their job was to protect the city of Cincinnati.

At the time of his enlistment, he and his wife, Mary Thorn Jacobus, had been married for not quite 5 years. They had three children, Frank, John and Clara, ages 4, 1 and 5 months respectively.

His death, which would be reported in Edward’s pension files by his Captain, H.D. Taylor, would come almost 8 months to the day after his enlistment.

E. Jacobus was a private in my said company and that on or about the 20th day of February, 1863, at or near Lexington, Kentucky, while in the line of his duty, he was taken sick with Lung Fever and after a few days, was removed to the hospital at Lexington where he died of said disease on the 2nd day of April 1863.

Taylor further went on to state:

“I was present with my company during the time he was sick in hospital and visited him frequently, and I saw him the day before he died and my first Lt. G.D. Forsyth saw him after he was dead and reported the fact to me.”

The body would not be shipped back to Henry County, but instead, be interred at what was to become Lexington National Cemetery. Edward was 27 years old.

The error of the missing “u” was foreshadowed earlier, in the muster roll taken for September and October 1862. A hurried hand wrote, “Edward L. Jacobs.”

Certainly, Captain Taylor knew the correct last name as indicated in his statement in Edward’s pension file, but the clerk who filled out the casualty sheet, probably did not. The casualty sheet read Jacobs, and officially, when the markers were ordered for the graves at Lexington National Cemetery, my gg grandfather became for all intents, Edward L. Jacobs.

On the US Department of Veteran Affairs website, under the heading, “Replacement Headstones and Markers” I found the following information:

Headstones and markers previously furnished by the Government may be replaced at Government expense if badly deteriorated, illegible, stolen or vandalized. We may also replace the headstone or marker if the inscription is incorrect, if it was damaged during shipping, or if the material or workmanship does not meet contract specifications.


For guidance on obtaining a replacement headstone or marker, you may call the Memorial Programs Service Applicant Assistance Unit between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, at the toll-free number below:1-800-697-6947

So that is what I did. I called them. From there I was told I had to contact the superintendent at the national cemetery where Edward was buried. The office girl at Lexington National Cemetery told me to send an email. A reply email referred me to Camp Nelson, which is the department that oversees Lexington National Cemetery. Lexington will change their online listing once Camp Nelson has approved and made the change, if I email Lexington and let them know.

A call to Camp Nelson gave me the next hurdle to cross. I needed to bring in the documentation proving that Edward Jacobs was really Edward Jacobus. When I explained I was in Ohio, I was told to send the information along with a phone number. So as soon as I am done making this post, I will write the letter, include what I hope to be appropriate documentation, along with a printed copy of this blog post. I will keep you informed of any developments. When I have put the letter in the mailbox at the Clyde Post Office, I will post an updated scoreboard to my blog.

Of all the requests made this week, this is the one that I hope succeeds.

Until Next Time – Happy Ancestral Digging!

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