Civil War headstone dedication to headline Hammond Veterans Day service

2012-11-08T16:00:00Z 2012-11-10T00:43:18Z Civil War headstone dedication to headline Hammond Veterans Day serviceMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
November 08, 2012 4:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Nearly a century and a half has passed since Hammond Pvt. Nicholas Mashino survived a battle wound at one of the bloodiest engagements of the Civil War.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, in honor of Veterans Day, Mashino and dozens of other veterans buried at Hammond's Oak Hill Cemetery will be remembered in a special memorial and dedication ceremony organized by the South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail.

In addition to celebrating the lives of veterans from all wars buried at the cemetery, at 6445 Hohman Ave., a contingent of trail organizers, veterans' descendants and local government leaders will dedicate 11 new Civil War veteran headstones installed there by volunteers during the past 18 months.

As region revelers enjoy New Year's Eve celebrations this year, the day also will mark the 150th anniversary of a battle in which Mashino — who served with an Illinois Infantry unit — risked everything for his country.

Mashino fought at the three-day Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tenn., surviving a wound in one of the war's bloodiest engagements. About 23,000 men from both the Union and Confederate armies were either wounded or killed in the battle that began Dec. 31, 1862, and lasted until Jan. 2, 1863.

Mashino, who lived in Momence, Ill., at the beginning of the war, settled in Hammond after the war and eventually became a commander of the local Grand Army of the Republic post, a fraternal organization of Civil War survivors that preceded the American Legion.

Mashino is among 10 Oak Hill Civil War veterans who received new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-issued headstones to replace their worn and broken original markers through the volunteer efforts of the Calumet Region Civil War Preservation Project.

Also being honored Sunday is Civil War Pvt. Henry Schrage, who — according to military records — served with an Illinois infantry unit during the war as a replacement for another man who bought his way out of service.

Schrage survived the war, eventually settling in Whiting and founding the Bank of Whiting, which became Centier Bank. The Schrage family, which still owns Centier, is scheduled to participate in Sunday's ceremony.

Schrage's Oak Hill grave received a special privately purchased granite marker during the summer, noting his Civil War service and that he founded Centier Bank.

Oak Hill is listed as an official stop on the South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail, a historical tourism trail bringing together various cemeteries, local museums, architectural icons and region sites related to the nation's bloodiest war. The trail is a partnership of the Calumet Region Civil War Preservation Project and the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.

Th 11 new Civil War markers at Oak Hill are among nearly 80 new headstones installed by volunteers in nine cemeteries spanning Lake and Porter counties since Memorial Day 2011.

The Civil War preservation work at Oak Hill is among several efforts by volunteers and the North Township trustee's office to restore grave sites at the massive 22-acre Hohman Avenue burial ground that contains the remains of several Hammond founding families.

A Times investigation published a year ago revealed several headstones — including the government marker of a World War II veteran — removed from grave sites and dumped in a trash and debris pile, unkempt conditions and an absentee owner who hadn't visited the cemetery in more than five years. The North Township trustee has since taken ownership of the cemetery, and most of the discarded headstones have been returned to their rightful places.

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