New tombstone honors Union soldier

Published 10:08 pm Saturday, May 19, 2012

More than 100 people gathered last Saturday to finally give a Union soldier his due.

Descendants, family friends and re-enactors gathered at a small family cemetery in the southern portion of the city to pay homage to William Aldred Boon, who fought in the U.S. Colored Troops, Company H, during the Civil War.

Descendants, family and friends and re-enactors came to a small family cemetery in Suffolk recently to dedicate a tombstone for William Aldred Boon, who fought for the Union in the U.S. Colored Troops, Company H during the Civil War.

Linwood Morings Boone, the great-grandson of William A. Boon, discovered his great-grandfather’s grave in December when a cousin gave him directions.

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“Go to my father’s grave, go down two rows and look to your left,” she told him.

That’s when Boone found his great-grandfather’s grave, which had his name etched into the top of the cement vault but had been covered by years of debris. The elder Boon died in 1937.

“He had no marker,” Boone said. “After getting his papers, I said, ‘Let’s see if we can get him a tombstone.’”

Boone headed to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and combed through Civil War records to find the proof that his great-grandfather had served. He found enlistment papers, pay receipts for 30 cents (a month’s pay) and even pay receipts showing Boon had been shorted pay for that month — but he also found records of the government paying up once the war was over. He even found records of Boon’s brother Jason fighting for the Confederacy.

Boone knew he had to do something to recognize his great-grandfather.

Boon

“He did not receive that recognition in life,” he said. “I want the world to know about his efforts on behalf of humanity.”

According to a biography of his great-grandfather that Boone compiled, the elder Boon was descended from Joe Skeeter, an English land surveyor who settled Skeetertown, near the Great Dismal Swamp. Skeeter apparently had two interracial marriages. Boon was a member of Palm Tree Missionary Baptist Church and was an avid photographer of church activities.

His favoritism toward the Union army likely came from an incident on July 29, 1863, in which, Boone wrote, his great-grandfather was forced to give up his valuables, property and horse to Confederate soldiers. The next year, during a visit to a cousin in Norfolk, he met a recruiting officer who told him he would be drafted if he didn’t enlist.

Boon’s unit served mostly in Virginia, including at Fort Monroe, Portsmouth, Williamsburg and Petersburg. He was honorably discharged from Cedar Point in February 1865 because of an injury to his head, according to the biography.

The ceremony on May 12 included participants from the Col. James D. Brady Camp Sons of Union Veterans, Department of the Chesapeake, Sons of Veteran Reserve Color Guard, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry and the 63rd New York Infantry.

“It was an awakening experience,” Boone said. “It helps to carry on the story.”