ANNVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – The bodies of three Civil War veterans found buried on a property in Cumberland County were finally given a proper burial Wednesday in Indiantown Gap National Cemetery.
They were the first Civil War vets buried at the national cemetery, but the story of who they were and how they got here is even more surreal.
A few years ago, only Lowell Hassinger knew these three men existed.
“We used to put flags on the standards of these various grave sites,” he said.
The graves were in Hassinger’s childhood backyard in Penn Township, Cumberland County since the Civil War. Recently, he moved back to his old home.
“It was in quite a disarray. The headstones were gone,” he said.
A local eagle scout led a 300-hour project to dig them out and resurface the men’s stories.
That’s how Beverly Stanton found a missing piece in her story.
“That’s my great, great, well five-times great-grandfather,” she said of one of the men, Pvt. Greenberry Stanton.
A ceremony was held to honor Stanton, Pvt. John Nelson, and Cpl. William Anderson of the renowned 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry that was featured in the movie “Glory.” All of the men were African-Americans who fought in the Civil War.
“When the bus pulled in here and I saw all these people out here to honor these soldiers,” Stanton said with tears in her eyes.
“It’s altogether fitting and proper that we do this,” Indiantown Gap’s Joe Zellner said.
He calls it an important piece of our history.
“That has come a long way from the days of enslavement and bigotry and enslavement by birth,” he said.
And peace for the families of these brave men.
“I really don’t have enough words to say what it does for my heart,” Stanton said.