Confederate soldier gets tombstone after nearly 100 year wait
By AMY BICKEL
The Hutchinson News
People can now find John A. Beasley. Cannons weren’t fired and taps wasn’t played in this part of Hutchinson’s Eastside Cemetery where, for nearly 100 years, the remains of the Confederate soldier rested under an unmarked patch of Bermuda grass.
Distant cousin Jim Converse of Olathe, along with Heath Roland, a member of a Kansas City branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, gave a simple salute after setting his grave, Converse saying that another Civil War soldier had gotten the honor he deserved. “This brings a great deal of satisfaction,” Converse said. “He’s family.” Consider Beasley an almost forgotten footnote in the War Between the States.
Even with a proper stone, there’s little information on this man. Beasley enlisted in Company I of the 7th Kentucky Cavalry of the Confederate States of America, fighting in Civil War battles until he was captured by Union troops and sent to a prisoner of war camp in the North for the remainder of the war.
Most subsequent information is lost, Converse said. An obituary from 1912 shows he had been retired for several years and lived in South Hutchinson. “How he ended up here, we don’t know,” Converse said.
Across the state, there could be several unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers like Beasley, said Roland This could especially be true for Confederate soldiers who didn’t want to disclose that they had once served the southern army after migrating to Kansas, said Gale Wall with the Reno County Genealogical Society.
Two years ago, Wall and fellow member Kathleen Dankanjin found the unmarked grave of a Union soldier while indexing the cemetery. Finding information on Confederate soldiers is a little more difficult, she said.
“There are more records available for Union veterans,” she said.
Converse serves as department commander of the Department of Kansas Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. His great-great-grandfather was a Union soldier.
But his mother, Annie Reddish Swanson, is a cousin to Beasley. Swanson grew up in Missouri, and her mother was raised in Kentucky.
Converse’s family genealogy searches connected him to Beasley.
He soon discovered the soldier never received his free government-issued tombstone — something all veterans of the Civil War were granted if they so chose.
So Roland and Converse drove from Kansas City in a van with Beasley’s headstone. “It’s great to know he has a marker,” said Roland, whose great-great-great-grandfather was a Texan who served in the Confederate Army.
And it didn’t matter to Converse what side his family fought on.
“The war is over,” he said with a laugh.