Feature Story

Civil War Tour at Lakeview Cemetery

For several years, the Friends of Lakeview Cemetery in Burlington have held an open house at the Louisa Howard Chapel and a tour of Civil War veteran’s gravestones on Memorial Day weekend. This Saturday, Don Jackson, in the dress of a civilian chaplain accompanying the 2nd Vermont Regiment, introduced and led the Civil War tour. Jackson, who has resided in the Burlington area for the past decade, has guided the tour for seven years. He spoke eloquently about the history of Memorial Day and its origins as Decoration Day in the aftermath of the Civil War. He discussed the history of Vermont in the Civil War briefly before describing some of the 140 Civil War veterans buried in Lakeview. Jackson said he hoped the tour would "ingrain further appreciation and desire to learn about our fellow Vermonters who fought in the Civil War." The more than 50 people who assembled for the tour at Lakeview certainly gained the appreciation that Mr. Jackson intended.

Following Don Jackson's introduction, Everett Stebbins of Burlington gave a moving reading of Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," for which he received a hardy ovation. He has read the address at each of the last three Memorial Day Weekend Civil War tours of the cemetery. Stebbins' resonant baritone voice is the perfect instrument to read these solemn words.

Deborah Hardy described the work that she and her partner, Jim Woodson, did to restore the stones of 48 gravestones in the Civil War veterans’ section at Lakeview Cemetery. Hardy and Woodson, who work professionally in headstone restoration, spent last fall identifying, stabilizing, and cleaning marble headstones in the cemetery's Grand Army of the Republic dedicated section. Additionally, they acquired a Civil War-era American flag to fly over that hallowed section of Lakeview. In previous years, Hardy and Woodson have restored the headstones of Civil War veterans in cemeteries in Bristol, Richmond, and Williston.

The tour included stops at the graves of a number of prominent Vermont Civil War veterans. We visited the grave of Brigadier General George Stannard, hero of Gettysburg and defender of the District of Columbia. We learned about Brevet Major General William Wells, who received the Medal of Honor for bravery at Gettysburg and later became wealthy in the pharmaceutical business. We spent time at the graveside of Major General Oliver Otis Howard, whose resume includes extensive combat experience during the Civil War and wars against American Indians in the 1870s, service as the Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, and the founding of Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Jane and John Ewing were among the presenters at the veterans' gravestones. The Ewings have been instrumental in the cemetery restoration work accomplished by the Friends of Lakeview, including the Louisa Howard Chapel, the Victorian fountain, and the Gazebo. Their enthusiasm for the cemetery and its history was felt by all.

A most interesting grave is that of black Civil War veteran Isaac Prince. Prince was born in Bristol, Vermont around 1842. He served as a private in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry from 1863 to 1865. He apparently died as an indigent in Burlington in 1898 and was buried under marker 242 in the pauper's section of Lakeview. Fortunately, he has later recognized with a proper headstone, recently restored by Woodson and Hardy.

Lakeview is an active cemetery with burials continuing in its northern sections. It serves as an ever-expanding document to the history of its community, state, and nation.

Clayton and Barry Trutor, VOCA Members