They are anonymous no more.
James S. Evans, Victor Gilliam, and Albert Shearer, three of the 16 Civil War soldiers buried at historic East Union Pioneer Cemetery, were without any identifying headstones. It’s been that way for years, perhaps even decades.
Until a determined sleuth, Janet Fiore of Manteca discovered their identities. Not only did she find out their names. She also obtained for each soldier a free headstone from the Veterans Administration.
The placement of the three headstones for the three soldiers was dedicated during a special ceremony Saturday, which also honored the other 13 Civil War soldiers who are buried at the cemetery on the corner of Louise Avenue and Union Road, the resting place of many area pioneers.
The graves of the three soldiers honored were identified by two American flag balloons for the occasion. Red, white and blue balloons marked the graves of the 13 other soldiers.
“After a hundred years now, they are marked,” Fiore said of the soldiers whose final resting places were without markers until recently.
Jim Monteton, whose Sacramento group, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Camp 22, lent their presence to the solemn occasion, shared some thoughts during the short dedication program held on the cemetery grounds.
“Albert Shearer, late of the 3rd California Infantry; Victor Gilliam, late of the 2nd Kansas Cavalry; and, James Evans, late of the 34th Indiana Infantry — the march of these soldiers is long over. . . May we, as we stand here by these graves, remember that it is our duty, as Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, to honor the memory of the men who stood shoulder to shoulder on the bloody fields of battle, who guarded so faithfully, so honestly and so well the sacred bonds of the statehood, and who fought for liberty and the dear old flag.
“They have passed away to their final review and upon us have devolved by sacred right of heritage the duty of perpetuating the principles for which they fought. May we never forget.”
The 30-minute program concluded with a 21-gun salute by members of the George Wright Camp 22 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and the solemn playing of the Taps by Manteca VFW and American Legion member Jim Walker.
Adding even more authenticity to the ceremony were members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War who wore period uniforms, as well as local members of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Native Daughters of the Golden West which included Fiore and Carol Bone who were dressed in Civil War-era gowns. Also on hand to help in the preparations were Tracy and Manteca members of the Gone But Not Forgotten Veterans Project with their identifying red T-shirts. Guests included members the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 and American Legion Post 249 of Manteca.
Speaking before presenting Jim Monteton, Camp 22 Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Manteca, Council member Richard Silverman said Saturday’s event was part of the year-long series of observances and celebrations leading to the centennial anniversary in May of the Family City’s incorporation.