Posted: Sunday, August 3rd 2008 at 7:21am
Winder researcher says Civil War soldier’s grave marker is wrong
By Jerry Gunn Staff
WINDER – A Winder woman wants Civil War grave marker names in Marietta corrected.
For Lois Helmers it was the last straw when she was notified last Saturday that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has apparently no intention of correcting Private Philip Findling’s name on his marker at the National Cemetery in Marietta.
“It’s not right, it’s just not fair,” Helmers said after Findling’s great great niece in California notified her that his misspelled name would remain misspelled; on the marker it is spelled ‘Fendding’.
Janet Horton in Goleta, Calif., said the National Cemetery Administration wrote her and told her the agency's electronic record would be updated to reflect the difference but the grave marker would not be changed.
According to Veterans Affairs the grave marker would be replaced if it becomes illegible or is damaged beyond repair; Findling’s marker was inspected and was judged to be "still serviceable."
Horton said she offered to personally pay for the name correction; Helmers said she and Horton don’t want the marker replaced, they just want Findling's real name on it.
"Poor Great, Great Uncle Philip will probably never get his due," Horton lamented.
Findling was killed in action in the fighting around Dallas, Ga., in 1864.
Horton said he was a young Meigs County, Ohio farmer, 19 years old, when he enlisted in the Union Army in 1861; he was 23 when he died.
Confederate Army Commander, Gen. Joseph Johnston, had attempted to lure federal commander Gen. William T. Sherman’s assaulting armies away from the Western and Atlantic Railroad, Johnston’s rail supply line to Atlanta.
Bitter fighting erupted along what was called the Dallas, New Hope line in northwest Georgia, where Findling, a member of Company ‘C’, the 63rd Ohio Regiment, was killed.
His remains were placed in the Marietta National Cemetery, where thousands of federal soldiers were laid to rest.
“It’s not clear how his name was misspelled and his misspelling is not the only one, there are seven others,” Helmers said. “Did the stone cutter fail to read his name correctly, was it misspelled to begin with by someone, was it illegible handwriting, who knows?”
Helmers, an Ohio native, discovered the mistakes while researching for her book about Union soldiers who left their homes in Meigs County in the 1860s where she has Civil War ancestors on her mother and father’s side of the family.
An amateur genealogist and Civil War historian, Helmers traced the names of all the Meigs County men and boys who went to war.
“His name is correct in the 63rd’s Company ‘C’ roster,” she said. “They were meticulous about names on rosters.”
According to Helmers, Findling was one of four sons of a couple from Germany who migrated to Meigs County; all four went to war; Philip did not come back.
She acknowledges that the name errors are nearly a century and a half old, but said to those researching family history name misspelling could lead a genealogist down the wrong path that could take months, even years, to discover.
Helmers pointed out that the sesquicentennial of the Civil War is fast approaching; another reason the markers should be made right.
“But more than that,” she added, “these are men who died for their country. Whether it’s the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War ll or the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, their names should be spelled correctly.”
She said she is not giving up on getting a correctly spelled grave marker for Ohio Private Philip Findling, and the other Ohio soldiers who died so long ago on North Georgia battlefields.
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