Albert Kale's death from typhoid fever in 1861 makes his grave among the oldest of Civil War soldiers buried in the Calumet Region, and his weathered Crown Point headstone shows it.
But in the coming weeks, the faded and nearly unreadable marble stone will be replaced by a new granite Civil War veteran's marker provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Kale's grave is among 11 belonging to veterans that will be receiving new headstones as part of a community effort to preserve Civil War history in Lake and Porter counties. Kale died while serving in the 20th Indiana Infantry, a regiment for which a number of region men fought.
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's beginning, The Times, Crown Point's Ziese & Sons Excavating and a group of local historians, cemetery administrators and veteran descendants joined together in identifying the crumbling or missing government-issued gravestones of local Civil War veterans.
The group researched the military histories of several of the veterans and applied to the federal government for new grave markers. The Times received word Monday from Veterans Affairs that 11 of the stones have been approved and ordered.
The group plans to apply for replacements for other damaged, faded or missing headstones in coming weeks.
Among the veterans set to receive new markers is Sgt. Henry Wise, who after the war started the Henry Wise Brickyard in Crown Point. Wise's business produced about 500,000 bricks for the central portion of what is now the Old Lake County Courthouse on the square.
In Valparaiso, the grave of Army surgeon John McCarthy, a prominent local physician in his day whose wife worked as an Army nurse during the Civil War, will receive a new marker at Union Street Cemetery.
In rural Hebron, the grave of Cpl. Joseph Sweet, of the 9th Indiana Infantry, will receive a new military marker to replace its missing stone.
The volunteer group will preserve the weathered markers as well, installing the newer granite stones in front of the old, deteriorating marble markers. Granite typically lasts longer than marble, which falls victim over time to acid rain and other erosion.
The local group also has been ordering and placing Grand Army of the Republic medallions at the grave sites of region Civil War veterans, many of whom lack headstones showing that they served in the war.
To date, contributions from the public and other entities have led to the purchase and placement of more than 30 medallions in six cemeteries spanning Lake and Porter counties.