Civil War soldier honored after 91 years

Posted October 10, 2013 at 10:27 am

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UNION SOLDER IN LEBECK CEMETERY GETS A STONE – On rainy Saturday morning, Oct. 5, Post 257 Honor Guard led by Tim Bartkoski (left) and including Daryle Hahn and Don Fugate set a marker at the grave of Union Soldier Corporal Benjamin C. McDuffee, Company E, 39th Indiana Cavalry, in Lebeck Cemetery northwest of Cedar Springs. They were joined by a great-great-grandson, Kenny Light (right), of Gladstone, near Kansas City.

Benjamin McDuffee was born in Indiana in July 1834. He joined the Union Army, Company E, Indiana Cavalry in August 1861. He served until the War ended. During the later part of the war, he was in a hospital in Memphis, TN. It is un-clear what the disability was since he was never engaged in an active battle. He told the family that he was close enough to the battlefields to hear the drums “go buckety-whit, buckety-whit”, but not at the front lines. On Jan. 26, 1865, he married Mahala Jane Thornburg in Indiana. Fawn Witten, formerly of El Dorado Springs, who refers to him as Grandpa McDuffee, only knows of them having two daughters, Flora, the oldest, and Della.

Cpl. McDuffee lived with the Hamilton Light family next door to the Coal Hill Church until the Light family moved to California. He then lived with a granddaughter at Hominy, OK, until his death in February 1922. His body was returned to Lebeck to be interred with his family.

Ms. Witten said, “When I was a child, Daddy (Robbie Beck) showed me Grandpa Mc’s grave…it never had a marker. I wanted it to be marked, because at one time, I was the only living person who knew where he was buried. Daddy always put some roses on the grave every Decoration Day.”

Ms. Witten said, “Tim Bartkoski and Donna Hicks, of Bland-Hackleman, have both been a great help in ‘us’ finally getting a Civil War stone for Grandpa McDuffee. After about two years of trying to get the approval, we made it.”

Before leaving Lebeck Cemeter Saturday morning, Tim Bartkoski called the Honor Guard to attention, then they saluted Cpl. McDuffee. Bartkoski concluded with, “Sorry it took so long.”