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Headstone dedication set for Union graves from Civil War

More than a century after their deaths, two Union soldiers of the Civil War have been buried in unmarked graves in the defunct W.D. Kelley Cemetery in Ironton.

However, thanks to the Lytle Camp Project Committee, they will now have headstones, which will be dedicated at a ceremony on Saturday, May 29.

The cemetery is adjacent to U.S. Route 52, just northwest of the Route 141 exit.

Pvt. John Evans, is the great-great grandfather of Lawrence McCullough, Camp Chaplain for the Lytle Camp Project Committee.

Evans, who served in Company C, 27th U.S. Colored Infantry, died after the war on Sept. 1, 1904.

Pvt. Jefferson Finley is McCullough’s great-great-great uncle and was Evans’ brother-in-law.

Finley, who served in Company B, 27th U.S. Colored Infantry, died on Jan. 5, 1887.

The 27th U.S. Colored Infantry was organized at Camp Delaware, Ohio beginning January 16, 1864 and was active until September 21, 1865. It was one of two black regiments raised mainly in Ohio. They had a distinguished and honorable record of service during the last year of the war. Their Roll of Honor shows 18 killed in action and 149 died in hospital as a result of disease or wounds received in battle.

The agenda for the program is as follows:

• 2 p.m. — Grave marking ceremony at W.D. Kelly Cemetery

• 3 p.m. — A guest speaker, Dr. Kelly D. Mezurek, will do a presentation at the Armory Smokehouse in the banquet/meeting room.

Mezurek is a professor of history at Walsh University and author of the book, “For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops.” Mezurek happens to have ancestors from Ironton and Lawrence County and has a great-great-great grandfather, George LeMasters, who served in the 13th WV Infantry and was killed in the war.

• 4-6 p.m. — The banquet/meeting is reserved for food and drink. Guests may order from the menu at their own expense.

All events are free and open to the public. Reservations are highly recommended for the guest speaker and dining in the private room at the Armory Smokehouse. If the room fills to capacity, due to COVID-19 restrictions, no one else can be admitted. To make a reservation, please send an e-mail to dsfreeman@fuse.net with name, phone number, email adress and number of guests.

Funding for this part of the program was made possible by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Donations to support this specific project and program can be made to “Lytle Camp No. 10, SUVCW,” with “Grave Marking 2021” on the memo line, and mailed to: James H. Houston, Treasurer, P.O. Box 386, Milford, OH 45150

The Lytle Camp Project Committee consists of Dennis M. Brown, camp photographer, past camp commander, D. Scott Freeman, camp patriotic instructor, and Lawrence McCullough, camp chaplain and descendant.