The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

October 24, 2013

Some digging uncovers mystery of soldier’s tombstone at Park Haven

ASHTABULA — For nearly 150 years, the tombstone of a Civil War soldier has leaned against a brick wall in the corner of the basement of Park Haven Nursing Home.

Now, thanks to information gathered by the Ashtabula County Genealogy Society at the Geneva Public Library, it can be returned to its proper resting place.

The gravestone belongs to a Union soldier, Private Thomas J. Jackson, of the 144th Regiment, Ohio Infantry (National Guard).

Born in 1845 in Columbus, Jackson enlisted at age 19 on May 2, 1864.

His group organized at Camp Chase in Columbus and mustered in May 11, 1864. His company, Company K, left the state for Baltimore, Md., that same day.

His regiment was relieved from duty at Baltimore and moved to participate in the Battle of Monocacy Junction, Md. on July 9.

They moved July 13 to Washington, D.C., and advanced to Winchester and Snicker’s Gap July 14-20. Jackson’s regiment attached to Kenley’s Independent Brigade, 8th Army Corps. Operations in the   Shenandoah Valley, Va. July 20 to Aug. 13.

His regiment repulsed an attack at Berryville, Va., but records show Jackson was taken prisoner Aug. 13 in Berryville.

He died of disease Dec. 21, 1864, while a prisoner of war at Salisbury Prison, Salisbury, N.C. — only a little more than seven months after enlisting in the fight.

By the end of the war, April 9, 1865, Jackson’s regiment had lost 10 enlisted men in battle and 53 by disease.

Jackson is buried in Salisbury National Cemetery in Rowan County, N.C.

His plot is listed as “unknown” in a trench.

By 1876, headstones were erected to identify the graves of the known soldiers and to mark the mass graves of the men from Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The government erected a monument to the Union dead in 1873.

According to the Genealogy Society, Jackson’s gravestone should go to Ashtabula Township. All cemeteries are in the township control and they will be able to set the monument.

How Jackson’s tombstone got in the basement of Park Haven is still unclear, but one could speculate his family commissioned Ashtabula’s William Smith and Son Monument Co. on Lake Avenue. From there, it somehow ended up with James L. Smith and his family, who bought the  house now known as Park Haven in 1889.

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