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Families working to make sure local heroes are remembered
By Cindy Klepper - Monday, January 9, 2017 7:55 AM
Originally published Jan. 5, 2016.
William Howett died in 1864, a casualty of the Civil War.
Thomas Parker died in 1967 in Vietnam.
Neither man’s body was ever recovered.
Now, 152 years after his death, Howett is remembered with a marker at Huntington’s Mt. Hope Cemetery. The marker was installed in November, thanks to the efforts of his great-niece.
And, 50 years after Parker’s death, a push is underway to remember him with a statue in Huntington’s Memorial Park.
Howett’s memory is being honored through the efforts of his great-niece, Diana Trivett.
An Ohio native, Howett had lived in both Wabash and Huntington counties before joining a Civil War regiment commanded by Gen. James Slack, Trivett says.
Trivett, a former Huntington resident who now lives in Elk Park, NC, has spent many hours compiling her family’s genealogy. She and her husband Jay traveled to Louisiana and Arkansas, where her great-uncle died, to reconstruct his last days and search for a grave.
Finding none — and finding evidence in an Indiana newspaper that Howett’s body was never returned to his home state — Trivett began working to place a memorial stone at Mt. Hope Cemetery, next to the grave of Howett’s brother, John Howett.
William and John, who was two years older, had enlisted together on Jan. 4, 1864, serving in Company D, 47th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers.
In May, the company was sent to Louisiana, where the Howett brothers worked for two weeks to help build Bailey’s Dam. The dam raised the water level in the Red River high enough that 10 gun boats and two tugs could float down the river.
“I can tell you that we have seen some hard times and some easy times …” Howett wrote in a letter to his sister, Mary Catherine Howett Ballenger — Trivett’s grandmother — just two months before his death.
The company then marched some 175 miles to the Mississippi River and, in September, was sent to Arkansas as reinforcements for the troops already there.
William arrived in Arkansas on Sept. 6, 1864, and died on Sept. 14, in St. Charles, AR. Company records show that the 18-year-old farmer, standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with grey eyes and light hair, had succumbed to dysentery.
Trivett’s quest to memorialize her great-uncle started after a trip to New Orleans, where the family historian had hoped to track down Howett’s grave.
They located Bailey’s Dam, which Howett helped build, and at a nearby state park saw an original wooden piece from the dam. They visited a plantation where Gen. Slack stayed while his troops were there; the current owner of the plantation had written a play about the Civil War, and told Trivett she planned to write Howett into the play.
But there was no grave.
Back in North Carolina, Trivett started mining her contacts in her former hometown of Huntington.
She contacted local historian Gib Young, a member of the Huntington camp of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, who provided her with forms to obtain a stone from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Diane Miller, a staff member in the Huntington City-Township Public Library’s Indiana Room, was unable to find an obituary for Howett, but located his name in a June 1893 article from the North Manchester Journal honoring “those who enlisted from this place and met death and found graves in southern soil, their friends know not where …”
Trivett’s next step was to contact Bailey-Love Cemetery, which maintains Mt. Hope Cemetery, where John Howett was buried.
“We filed the appropriate paperwork to order this monument for Mr. Howett,” says Brian Love, monument advisor at Bailey-Love.
Last November, a stone was placed at Mt. Hope Cemetery: “In Memory of William Howett, Co D, 47 Ind Inf, Civil War, Jan 24 1845, Sep 14 1864.”
As for Parker, a campaign to raise funds for a permanent memorial to him is just getting underway. If all goes as planned, a bronze statue will be in place at the veterans’ monument at Memorial Park no later than Veterans Day of this year.
The quest was initiated by Donald Campbell, who served with Parker in Vietnam and now lives in Chester, NJ. Parker’s youngest daughter, Huntington resident Rachel Parker Zahm — who was 14 months old when her father was killed — is assisting with the $60,000 fund-raising campaign.
Parker is one of 17 Huntington County men who were killed in Vietnam and the only casualty whose body was not recovered. The other 16 men will also be recognized when the statue is dedicated.
Parker, a Navy corpsman, was serving with a Marine medical battalion. He was aboard a medical evacuation helicopter on April 5, 1967, when the helicopter exploded after being hit by enemy fire. Despite an extensive search, Parker’s body was not recovered.
Families of the 16 other Huntington County men killed in Vietnam are being sought so that they can be honored during the dedication of the statue.
Those men are Gary M. Archibald, Gary Ladd Biehl, Gregorio C. Bustos, Mike G. Bustos, Robert F. Elston, Gregory L. Fleck, Terry G. Graft, Daryl L. Lowery, Floyd R. Noe, James R. Paul, Thomas D. Perry, Lloyd D. Pinkerton, Ronald E. Rogers, Richard A. Scheiber, Thomas Wardrop III and Thomas D. Worrel.
The $60,000 fund-raising goal will cover the costs of the statue, plaques, foundation work, installation and construction costs.
To learn how to donate, or for other information, contact Zahm at firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 551, Huntington, IN 46750.