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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Saluting a soldier

  • William Henry Owen, a farmer, died from a kidney disease and complications with senility, according to his death certificate. However, in his youth, Owen fought on the battle lines for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
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  • The most famous folks you'll find interred inside Hannibal's Riverside Cemetery are U.S. Congressmen, a lumber baron and a Hall of Fame baseball star.
    There are also veterans, dating as far back as the American Civil War.
    But there's one in particular who is getting more attention than the others.
    William Henry Owen, a farmer, died from a kidney disease and complications with senility, according to his death certificate. However, in his youth, Owen fought on the battle lines for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
    Tim Higdon, a member of the Missouri Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, came across Owen's name and now plans are under way to erect a new headstone for the fallen southern soldier.
    "They told me Memorial Day is coming up and asked if I would like some flags to put on some Confederate graves. I didn't know if I would have any luck. I went onto the Missouri Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans Web site and they have a grave finder master list. From there I clicked on Marion County and I found William H. Owen buried at Riverside Cemetery," Higdon said. "Only thing I know is his regiment fought a lot in Arkansas. And one thing I found interesting was my dad was born and raised in Arkansas and his aunt lived close to Prairie Grove — which was a battle in North Arkansas — and he found a revolver pistol frame close to the battle field when he was a young boy. This gentleman (Owen) here it says he fought there."
    Before work begins to start the new headstone, the Confederate Veterans group first needs to go before the Riverside Cemetery Board.
    "The Board of the Historic Riverside Cemetery is happy to hear that Mr. Higdon would like to place a headstone at the grave of our Confederate solder. We welcome new volunteers that want to help make our cemetery a more pleasant place for our families and friends," Board Treasurer Shirley Jackson said in a statement.
    Of course support for the Confederacy doesn't come without controversy.
    More often than not, the Confederate flag is referred to as a representation of a part of the country that favored slavery. Yet Higdon makes it clear there was more to the Confederacy than the issues of slavery.
    "Slavery was an issue at the time, but there was other issues with states rights. You look at what happened in Fort Jackson in St. Louis with the Federal Troops opening fire on civilians. Incidents like that, where the term 'War of Northern Aggression,' comes from. Because a lot of people signed up to fight for the South because of an invading army coming to their state, to their homeland," Higdon said.
    Page 2 of 2 - And as far as the Stars and Bars flag?
    "It originally was a battle flag, not a flag of hate," Higdon added in a later email. "I think the battle flag should be shown in its proper context, with the soldiers who fought the battles."
    More information will be brought to the Sons of Confederate Veterans Post 255 at the Col. Porter camp in Shelbina next month.
    "They said getting a stone would be no problem," Higdon said. "Sometimes it takes some time with red tape and to go through the paperwork. They want to know if I could get a hold of any of (Owen's) descendants to let them know what's going on."
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