Civil War veteran receives honors 130 years later

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe with Virginia Mongreig

It isn’t easy to locate and identify an unmarked grave in a small cemetery, but Virginia Mongreig, Schoolcraft township clerk, and Jane Crist, local volunteer, made it their mission to locate the grave of Enoch Robinson, an African American Civil War veteran.

As Crist worked her way through the various veteran’s graves last spring — cleaning and noting the absence or presence of appropriate flag holders and symbols — she was unable to locate Enoch Robinson’s site. Crist called Mongreig and the two began their research, scouring township records.

Mongreig remembered a very old book stored in the vault: Vicksburg Cemetery Schoolcraft Township Burial Records 1874-1935. This book documented the grave purchase and location.

The two then began searching for any information about the soldier: Crist obtained the obituary through census records at the Vicksburg Historical Society; Mongreig reviewed Dr. Arle Schneider’s book, “A Tale of One Village,” and found evidence of Enoch’s involvement in the community.

Crist met Mongreig and her husband, Chip, who measured, reviewed burials from township records, and probed the area, and Robinson’s gravesite was located. The next step: securing a veteran’s headstone. The markers are provided at government expense.

Mongreig contacted Gary Swain of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, whose group has made repairs in the old cemetery. Swain completed the application for a marker and forwarded the application along with a letter from Mongreig.

Swain last year provided more information about Robinson to station WMUK. Private Robinson served in the 15th U.S Colored Infantry Regiment. He was born in 1835, grew up in southern Ohio, enlisted in northern Tennessee and spent most of his enlistment in the Tennessee area. He died in 1891.

The marker arrived about 130 years later: October 13, 2021.

Mongreig and Crist are thrilled with the outcome: Enoch Robinson’s grave is now identified with a veteran’s marker, and Enoch Robinson will be honored with a traditional Civil War Memorial Service by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War on September 17, 2022 at 11 a.m. in the north portion of the Schoolcraft Township Cemetery.

The community is invited to attend.

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