History: The Civil War veterans of Towns Cemetery.  

May 30, 2021

The grave of Jesse Towns, located in the cemetery named after him.

History: The Civil War veterans of Towns Cemetery.  

Around the County/History is a presentation of Preferred Credit Union, www.preferredcu.org, located locally at 266 N. Jebavy Dr., Ludington.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Memorial Day, observed this year on Monday, May 31, is a federal holiday that honors military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday evolved from the practice of decorating the graves of soldiers, a practice that became more common in the United States following the Civil War, particularly in southern states. For many years, the annual ritual was known as Decoration Day. After World War II, the name Memorial Day became more common with Congress officially recognizing it as a federal holiday in 1971. 

The day is often mistakingly observed as a day to honor all military personnel and veterans. Those days, respectively, are Armed Forces Day (held the third Saturday in May) and Veterans Day (held on Nov. 11). Of course, in this author’s opinion, every day is a good day to honor those who served. 

With that said, as the holiday did begin as a day to honor the deceased soldiers and sailors, I bring you this article about the 14 Civil War veterans buried in Amber Township’s Towns Cemetery, located on Johnson Road between Stiles and Amber roads. I grew up near this cemetery, which sits on just over an acre of land surrounded by my family’s farm. I have wandered this cemetery for nearly a half century. 

While non of these men died in combat, they each were part of the United States military that preserved the Union. Many of them were also early settlers of Amber Township and influential in the growth of that township and also of Scottville and Mason County. 

As with all my history stories, there are likely gaps and I certainly welcome any corrections or additions that someone may have. I do realize that some of these men still have descendants and many of those descendants still live in Mason County.  Sources for these stories are based on various material including newspaper articles, ancestry.com postings, and military records, among other sources. 

Joseph S. Adams (1836-1913)

A cemetery plot owned by Joseph S. Adams sits near the grave of Gus Johnson but the plot is unmarked. Records show that a Joseph S. Adams lived in Mason County and was born on Feb. 28, 1836 in Genesee County, New York and died on March 3, 1913 in Eden Township at the age of 77-years-old. This age would be consistent of someone who served during the Civil War.

Later in this article, there is a listing for Elisha Perkins, who also was born in Genesee County, New York. Perhaps they were related. 

J.S. Adams served in the First Regiment Michigan Light Artillery. 

Joseph was married to Elizabeth Churchill in 1861. Elizabeth was born May 1, 1840 in Batavia, Genesee County, New York and did on June 18, 1926. 

Their children included: Carrie (1863-1900); Samuel (1864-?); Ralph (1865-1940); Charles (1870-1948); Jessie (1872-1937); Frederick (1880-1951); James (1885-1969). Carrie was born in Coldwater; Samuel was born in Adrian. The following year, 1865, records show that Ralph was born in Hart, as was Charles in 1870. Jonathan and Jessie were born in Shelby and then in 1880, Frederick was born in Mason County. James is listed as being born in Scottville in 1885.

Several of Joseph’s siblings are listed as dying in Oceana County, which indicates that his extended family must have relocated there. It’s likely that he purchased a plot in the Towns Cemetery, but then, his family chose to bury him, along with Elizabeth in Mount Hope Cemetery in Shelby. 

Henry Billings

Henry Billings (1831-1895)

Henry Billings was born Aug. 15, 1831 in Lewis, New York. 

In 1858, Henry married Margaret Culver (1840-1866). They had three children: Lewis H. (1859-1928); Sarah Desire (1861-1862); and William Henry (1864-1946). The billings moved to Mason County sometime between 1864 and 1866. Records show that Margaret died in Ludington on Sept. 29, 1866. On July 25, 1867, Henry married 16-year-old Laura Melissa Culver (1851-1891), he was 35. Together, they had three children: Minnie (1868-1952); George (1873-1961); and Laura (1883-1952). Laura died on Sept. 28, 1891 in Scottville. Since Margaret and Laura had the same maiden name, it’s likely that they were related. This was not uncommon during that time, for men or women to remarry a sibling or other relative of their former spouse. 

Henry served in the Michigan 25th Infantry, Company E as a private. At the time of his enlistment he was living in Waukeshma, Mich. He enlisted in Climax on Aug. 9, 1862. He was discharged on June 29, 1865. 

Records on ancestry.com show Henry and Laura going back and forth between Victory Township and Kalamazoo. 

Henry died in Scottville on Aug. 13, 1895 at the age of 64.

Grave of Charles Boy

Charles Ludwig Boy (1829-1914)

Charles Boy was born in Prussia on March 26, 1829. He and his wife, Caroline (or Karolena, died 1899), homesteaded a farm located a half mile north of the corner of Stiles and Hansen roads. 

The 1880 U.S. Census shows Charles and wife, Lena, age 32, living on Dowland Street in Ludington with Lena’s (nee Leich) two children, Charles Tice, 3, and William Tice, 2. Several records indicate Karolena died in 1899, which is inconsistent with the information from the 1880 census. 

Charles is listed as a mill worker in the 1880 census but as a farmer in the 1883 City Directory. 

Grave of Ewald Ludwig

Ludwig Ewald (1836-1891)

Ludwig Ewald was born in 1836 or 1839 in Germany. He was also known as Louis/Lewis. According to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Mr. Ewald enlisted in Wheatfield, New York on June 1, 1865 in Co. C 124 New York Infantry, transferring to Co. A, 93 New York Infantry on June 1, 1865. 

He was married to Catherine “Kate” Bredehöft (March 19, 1843-Jan. 31, 1882) and they had seven children: Ludwig Henry Ewald 1866-1873; Emma Amelia Caroline Ewald 1868-1873; Marie Ewald Leetch, 1872-1940; Annie Williamine Ewald, 1873-1876; Kate Ewald, 1878-1878; Minnie Ewald, 1879-1879; and Catherine Ewald Malloy, 1881-1953. Catherine is buried in a cemetery in Douglas, Allegan County. 

Ludwig died on June 7, 1894 in Amber Township. 

Grave of George A. Howe

George Howe (1833-1879)

George Howe was born in Indiana Dec. 30, 1833. Howe, who was living in Bourbon, Indiana, enlisted as a private in Company I, 151st Infantry Regiment Indiana on Feb. 3, 1865. He mustered out of Company I, on Sept. 19, 1865 in Nashville, Tenn. 

According to the 1870 U.S. Census, he and his wife, Margaret, and their four children (Milton, 10, Laura, 8, Calvin, 3, and George, 3 months), were living in Center Marshall, Indiana. The 1880 U.S. Census listed Margaret Howe as widowed and living in Custer with her children (Milton, 20, Calvin, 12, and George, 10). This would assume that Laura had passed away. George was 45-years-old (or 43) when he passed away on July 26, 1879 (another source states he died on Aug. 9, 1876). 

James W. Lutes (1825-1882)

James W. Lutes was born in 1825 in Ontario, Canada. His gravesite is adorned with two markers, a civilian marker and a military marker. He served in the First Michigan Cavalry, Co. F and E. 

He was married to Sarah Mane, who was born in 1830 (death date not known). They had three children: Susan (1863-?); Mary Ella (1865-1897); Henry (1868-?). 

According to the 1871 Canada Census, James was living in Townsend, Ontario at that time. The 1880 U.S. Census shows him living in Amber Township. 

Grave of Andrew Neil

Andrew Neil (1841-1909)

Andrew Neil was born in 1841 in Sorbie, Wigtown, Scotland and immigrated to the United States on Aug. 2, 1858, arriving in Philadelphia on the ship Bridewater via the port of Liverpool, England. He was married to Fanny Holmes on Sept. 19, 1865, the first settlers to be married in Amber Township. Together, Andrew and Fanny had 11 children. Their decedents continue to live in Mason County and on the original Neil farm, which they homesteaded in 1867,  in the area of Johnson and Gordon roads. 

Andrew is listed a Civil War veteran in the Census of the State of Michigan 1894, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, Volume III Index but what particular unit he served with is not clear. U.S. Naval Enlistments records show an Andrew B. McNeil, born about 1840, enlisting in Boston in November 1861. 

Grave of George Haner, in Towns Cemetery.

George Haner (1842-?)

According to the 1880 U.S. Census, George and his wife, Annie (1849-1891), lived in Custer Township. 

Haner enlisted in Lowell as a private on Aug. 12, 1862 in Co. I, Michigan 26th Infantry. He reached the rank of corporal and was discharged on May 26, 1865 in Washington, D.C. At the time of his residence, he is shown as living near Lowell. 

On Jan. 1, 1873, he married Anna Duboice in Reynolds Township, Montcalm County. He is shown as living in Greenville. Anna was born in 1847 in Vermont. 

A gravestone for George Haner is also located in Scottville’s Brookside Cemetery. The gravestone at Brookside appears to be an official military gravestone while the gravestone at Towns Cemetery is an obelisk. 

As of this posting, I was unable to find Haner’s date of death. 

Grave of Elisha Perkins

Elisha B. Perkins (1831-1913)

Elisha Perkins was born in in Genesse County, New York. 

In 1850, U.S. Census records show Elisha living in Erie, Penn.

He enlisted in Co. M, Fourth Michigan Cavalry on Dec. 29, 1863 in Jackson and was discharged on Aug. 20, 1865.

There are some contradictions in online sources of who Elisha was married to. A few records show a wife named Louisa Perkins, born in 1831, with no indication of when she died. 

Sources also show his wife as Martha Bisbee (1835-1904). Their children included: Ada (1861-?); Alice (1861-?); Martha Rozetta (1862-1939); Cilia (1867-?); Julia (1871-?). 

The 1880 U.S. Census shows him living in Amber Township and his wife is listed as Louisa. He is listed as a farmer. The 1910 census shows him and Louisa living in Scottville. Clearly, there is a contradiction with these records as Martha’s ancestry.com records show her widowed in 1910 and living in Detroit. 

Elisha died on Sept. 28, 1913 at the age of 82. 

Grave of Daniel Prindle

Daniel Prindle (1831-1895)

Daniel Prindle was born in New York. 

He enlisted in Co. G, 10th Iowa Infantry on Aug. 24, 1861 and was discharged March 1, 1862. 

The 1950 U.S. Census shows Daniel living in Des Moines, Iowa. He and Cyrena (1830-1911)were married on Aug. 6, 1854 in Washington, Iowa. They are listed as living in English River, Washington County, Iowa in 1856. By 1870, they resided in Amber Township, Mason County.

The children of Daniel and Cyrena included: Alma, Adonison, Addie, Alvin, David, Mirtie, Walter, and Nettie. A newspaper death announcement for Nettie only lists three siblings, including Judson. 

Daniel’s father, Daniel Prindle (1806-1882) is also buried in Towns Cemetery. His mother, Electa Fisher Prindle (1809-1895), died in Texas. 

Daniel is buried overlooking the land he homesteaded in the late 1860s, 80 acres of land located east of the cemetery, which he helped survey, which stretches to the modern Amber Road. 

Thomas Ridley (1834-1908)

Ridley has a gravestone in Towns Cemetery, but he and his wife, Lucinda, are actually buried in Scottville’s Brookside Cemetery. 

He was born in 1834 in North Carolina. 

Ridley served in Co. A, Ninth Indiana Volunteers. After the war, he was a member of the S.D. Haight Post 328 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Scottville. He was born in North Carolina and Lucinda was born in Indiana. 

Ridley died on March 19, 1908. 

Lewis Spaulding

Lewis Spaulding (1832-?)

Lewis Spaulding (spelled Spalding on his gravestone), was born in Windsor County, Vermont on Feb. 28, 1832. He was married to Louisa M. Graves (1833-1922) in Lorain County, Ohio on April 8, 1855. Their children were: Emma, born Aug. 4, 1856; Addie, born Dec. 26, 1858; Ardelia, born June 16, 1861; and Allen (Alan), born Sept. 9, 1868. 

He enlisted in Company H, 103rd Regiment OVI on July 28, 1862 and was discharged on Aug. 2, 1865 with the rank of wagon master.

Following the war, Spaulding settled in Fulton County, Vermont. According to the 1880 U.S. Census, he and Louisa were living in Amber Township. 

As of this posting, I could not find Spaulding’s date of death.

Jesse Towns

Jesse Towns (1833-1910)

Jesse Towns is buried in the cemetery named after him. He homesteaded 80 acres bordered to the east of the cemetery west to modern Stiles Road (now property owned by the Alway family). 

Jesse was born on Aug. 20, 1833 in Ohio. He married Sarah Borton on Dec. 11, 1856 in Stark County, Ohio and in 1858 the couple moved to Mason County, homesteading the property located on modern Johnson Road. 

At the age of 31, Jesse joined the U.S. Army on Feb. 26, 1865 and served in Company B of the 7th Regiment Michigan Volunteer Cavalry, which was part of the Michigan Brigade, which at one point had been led by Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer.

Jesse served nine months, 20 days and was discharged on Dec. 15, 1865, the same day the regiment was mustered out of service. 

Read more about Jesse and Sarah Towns here. 

Jesse died on March 24, 1910. 

Waite Wright

Waite Wright (1823-1897)

Waite Wright was born in Darlington Station, Durham Regional Municipality (county), Ontario on July 8, 1823. 

He was enlisted as a private in Co. G, 17 Michigan Volunteers in Jackson on Aug. 22, 1862. He was 39-years-old. On Nov. 16, 1863 he was captured by Confederate soldiers at Campbell’s Station, Tennessee. He was released on March 15, 1864 and admitted to the hospital in Annapolis, Md. on March 19, 1864. He was discharged from the army on June 9, 1865. 

On Nov. 14, 1847, he married Axalla S. Macomber (1831-1875) in Livingston, Mich. They lived in Calhoun in 1850. Their children included: Welthy Ann (1853-1932); Waite (1855-1926); Warren Alexander (1855-1927); Joshua R. (1857-1948); George W. (1860-1921); Jane (1863-1877); Lincoln (1865-1934); Ida May (1867-1927). 

Grave of Waite Wright

In 1870, the family was living in Eaton, Mich. Sometime following that, Waite and Axalla homesteaded a farm located 1.5 miles north of the corner of modern Stiles and Hansen roads. 

Axalla died in September 1875. On June 16, 1886, Waite, age 63, married 33-year-old Lucy M. Werthy Wardell Withey (1853-1897), who was born in England. 

Waite died in 1897 in Pere Marquette Township at the age of 74. His plot is unmarked but sits next to the plot of L.W. Douglas. 



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