Civil War veteran Jewett Williams receives full military honors in his hometown — Part II

 

Led by re-enactors from Companies B and I of the 20th Maine Infantry, plus members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, people carry American flags while walking from the Hodgdon United Methodist Church (background) to the Hodgdon Cemetery for the Sept. 24, 2016 funeral of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

Led by re-enactors from Companies B and I of the 20th Maine Infantry, plus members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, people carry American flags while walking from the Hodgdon United Methodist Church (background) to the Hodgdon Cemetery for the Sept. 24, 2016 funeral of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

Since Monday, Aug. 22, the cremains of Pvt. Jewett Williams of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment have been located at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta. The state's decision to shift his burial from Togus to Hodgdon continues to generate controversy. (Courtesy of Oregon State Hospital)

Pvt. Jewett B. Williams of Co. H, 20th Maine Infantry, was brought home to rest in his native Hodgdon on Sept. 24, 2016. (Courtesy of Oregon State Hospital)

The clop-clop-clop of horses’ hooves alerted Pvt. Jewett B. Williams of Hodgdon and Co. H, 20th Maine Infantry Regiment that his waiting was over on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

About 1½ centuries since leaving his hometown and 94 years since dying in Oregon, Jewett  was ready to come home for good — and the folks who had organized his funeral in Hodgdon ensured that Jewett rode in style to his final resting place.

Drawn by two splendid brown-and-white horses, a gleaming black carriage manned by three black-clad attendants stopped opposite the Hodgdon United Methodist Church on the Hodgdon Mills Road. Jewett had waited outside the church for about five minutes with Morris Berry, a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, plus two Union soldiers from Co. B, 20th Maine Infantry.

Two young boys watch the horse-drawn carriage transporting members of the Williams family and the cremains of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams travel along the Walker Road in Hodgdon on Sept. 24, 2016. Many years hence, these boys may tell their grandchildren about witnessing the last funeral held in Maine for a Civil War veteran. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

Two young boys watch the horse-drawn carriage transporting members of the Williams family and the cremains of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams travel along the Walker Road in Hodgdon on Sept. 24, 2016. Many years hence, these boys may tell their grandchildren about witnessing the last funeral held in Maine for a Civil War veteran. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

Jewett was here because the urn containing his cremains had been discovered at the Oregon State Hospital in 2004 and transported from Oregon to Maine by the Patriot Guard Riders in August 2016. The discovery of two elderly fourth cousins living in Hodgdon led state officials to approve his burial there rather than at Togus National Cemetery near Augusta.

As a lot of people watched outside Hodgdon UMC, Roderic Williams and other distant relatives of Jewett Williams crossed Hodgdon Mills Road and, after an attendant placed a black metal step beside the carriage’s open door, climbed inside.
Once all were seated, Berry passed Jewett’s urn to Rod Williams.

Some 200 people gathered at the Hodgdon Cemetery on Sept. 24, 2016 to honor Pvt. Jewett B. Williams of the 20th Maine Infantry. He grew up in Hodgdon. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Some 200 people gathered at the Hodgdon Cemetery on Sept. 24, 2016 to honor Pvt. Jewett B. Williams of the 20th Maine Infantry. He grew up in Hodgdon. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Addie Carter sings Amazing Grace as the cremains of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams arrive at the Hodgdon Cemetery at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

Addie Carter sings Amazing Grace as the cremains of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams arrive at the Hodgdon Cemetery at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

The driver flicked the reins, and the horses stepped forward. As the carriage rolled toward Walker Road, re-enactors from Companies B and I of the 20th Maine formed an honor guard and followed. Behind them came six Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) and many Patriot Guard Riders and other motorcyclists who had accompanied Jewett on his final trip to Hodgdon.

American flags furled and unfurled in the steady northeast breeze as the carriage turned onto the Walker Road and moved uphill to the Hodgdon Cemetery. An officer quietly called cadence as the re-enactors’ honor guard marched up the road; looking south from the cemetery, people could see a sea of American flags rising above the furled colors of the 20th Maine and SUVCW members.

The carriage and Jewett’s escorts all turned into the cemetery, where a larger tent sheltered people wishing to sit and a smaller tent shaded a table, lectern, and microphone. The carriage stopped beside Jewett’s grave; he would be buried next to his parents and an unnamed infant sister.

Stepping to the microphone, Addie Carter sang Amazing Grace. The Williamses alighted from the carriage and joined Eugene Jackins (another fourth cousin of Jewett’s) in the front row. Then Pastor Robert Smith of the Hodgdon United Baptist Church delivered the invocation and a eulogy drawing upon biblical parables.

“The lost sheep and lost coin were found,” and “there was rejoicing,” said Smith. Describing Jewett as a “lost son” (a reference to Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son) he observed that “today there will be a celebration” as Jewett returned home.

Escorted by State Captain Mike Edgecomb of the Maine Patriot Guard Riders, Christabell Rose lays a wreath at the gravestone of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams in the Hodgdon Cemetery (above) on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. among the members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (below) who conducted an 1873 Grand Army of the Republic burial service were (left) 1st Sgt. Eric Boothroyd and Charles McGillicuddy. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Escorted by Steve Littlefield of the Maine Patriot Guard Riders, Christabell Rose of the Maine Living History Association lays a wreath at the gravestone of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams in the Hodgdon Cemetery on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Littlefield was among the Maine PGRs who escorted Jewett’s cremains from Appomattox Court House to Maine in August; Rose planned the ceremonies transferring the cremains to the respective PGRs in each state from Virginia to Maine. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Among the members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War  who conducted an 1873 Grand Army of the Republic burial service were (left) 1st Sgt. Eric Boothroyd and Charles McGillicuddy.

Among the members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War who conducted an 1873 Grand Army of the Republic burial service were (left) 1st Sgt. Eric Boothroyd and Charles McGillicuddy.

Next came a Maine Patriot Guard Riders’ wreath-laying at Jewett’s headstone, and then PGR State Captain Mike Edgecomb talked about the volunteer effort to bring Jewett home. The American and 20th Maine Infantry flags carried across the United States by motorcycle were “slightly tattered,” and “some of the riders are kind of tattered as well” from the long ride, he said.

As part of the full military honors extended Pvt. Jewett B. Williams, re-enactors representing the 20th Maine Infantry fired three volleys near his grave (above) and bugler Gerald Riley played "Taps" (below). Riley is the adjutant of the Chester L. Briggs Post No. 47, American Legion. (Brian F. Swartz Photos_

As part of the full military honors extended Pvt. Jewett B. Williams, re-enactors representing the 20th Maine Infantry fired three volleys near his grave (above) and bugler Gerald Riley played “Taps” (below). Riley is the adjutant of the Chester L. Briggs Post No. 47, American Legion. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Bugler Gerald Riley plays taps smaller image

Gazing around the cemetery, what did Jewett think as the quartet “Just A Ride” sang Find the Cost of Freedom and six members of the SUVCW conducted an 1873 Grand Army of the Republic funeral service? Active in GAR affairs in the Pacific Northwest, Jewett was probably familiar with the verbal ebb and flow of the service.

Jewett watched as the 20th Maine Infantry re-enactors fired three volleys to initiate the full military honors due him. Brig. Gen. Douglas Farnham, the Maine adjutant general, stepped to the microphone beside Jewett and described how Mainers “go to incredible lengths to honor the veterans.”

Thanking by name many people who played key roles in bringing Jewett home, Farnham noted that Jewett, who fought with the 20th Maine during the 1865 Appomattox Campaign, “was a witness to a pivotal time in our history.”

Two Maine Army Guardsmen carefully fold a flag during the funeral of Pvt. Jewett Williams (above). Brig. Gen. Douglas Farnham, who is Maine's adjutant general, then presented the flag to Jewett's fourth cousin, Eugene Jackins (below), who sat beside his wife Dolores during the funeral. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Two Maine Army Guardsmen carefully fold a flag during the funeral of Pvt. Jewett Williams (above). Brig. Gen. Douglas Farnham, who is Maine’s adjutant general, then presented the flag to Jewett’s fourth cousin, Eugene Jackins (below), who sat beside his wife, Dolores, during the funeral. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Farnham presents flag to Eugene Jackins 8 x 12 smaller image

The honor guard from Chester L. Briggs Post No. 47, American Legion, fired three volleys; Post 47 adjutant Gerald Riley drew many tears from onlookers as he played “Taps” from a position slightly uphill from Jewett.

Then the travel-weary Hodgdon native watched as two immaculately uniformed Maine Army Guardsmen carefully conducted a flag-folding ceremony. Sensing his funeral was ending, Jewett listened as Post 47 chaplain Peter Roach prayed.

Picking up the flag folded by the Guardsmen, Farnham respectfully presented it to Eugene Jackins. Rod Williams stood as Farnham approached him with a second folded American flag; Jackins and Williams accepted both the tri-colored recognition of Jewett’s service and the salute that Farnham gave each man.

Pastor Smith delivered the benediction. Mary Fahl sang the moving Going Home, written from the viewpoint of someone going where “Mother’s there expecting me, Father’s waiting, too, Lots of folks gathered there, All the friends I knew.”

I wondered if the emotional refrains caused Jewett to tear up, because more than a few fingers or handkerchiefs went to moist eyes in the crowd.

A man rests his left hand on the urn containing the cremains of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams after the completion of his funeral at Hodgdon on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Many people took time to pass by the urn and say "hello" to Jewett. (Brian F. Swartz)

A man rests his left hand on the urn containing the cremains of Pvt. Jewett B. Williams after the completion of his funeral at Hodgdon on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Many people took time to pass by the urn and say “hello” to Jewett. (Brian F. Swartz)

Then a young man invited people to come by and meet Jewett. I can only imagine his thoughts as men, women, and youngsters filed quietly through the small tent. They photographed Jewett’s urn, and at least several people patted or rubbed its top.

Onlookers and funeral participants soon dispersed. Many people went to a reception at Mill Pond School in Hodgdon; a few people lingered to wrap up the post-funeral necessities.

I stepped into the smaller tent and photographed the urn a last time. Then it was time to say “good-bye” to Jewett Williams.

The catalyst for the funeral was Tanya Marshall Pasquarelli, a Hodgdon native who worked with many other people to organize all aspects of the funeral service. The volunteers who spruced up the cemetery, prepared and served refreshments at the post-funeral reception, participated in the service, or transported Jewett from Appomattox Court House to Hodgdon: to all them, we owe a special “thank you.”

And to Jewett Williams, I extend a hearty “thank you for helping save the country.”

Brian Swartz can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net. He loves hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.

Brian Swartz

About Brian Swartz

Welcome to "Maine at War," the blog about the roles played by Maine and her sons and daughters in the Civil War. I am a Civil War buff and a newspaper editor recently retired from the Bangor Daily News. Maine sent hero upon hero — soldiers, nurses, sailors, chaplains, physicians — south to preserve their country in the 1860s. “Maine at War” introduces these heroes and heroines, who, for the most part, upheld the state's honor during that terrible conflict. We tour the battlefields where they fought, and we learn about the Civil War by focusing on Maine’s involvement with it. Be prepared: As I discover to this very day, the facts taught in American classrooms don’t always jibe with Civil War reality. I can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net.