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Research focuses on local Civil War vets

April 9, 2012
By DIANE SPEER - News Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

Families conducting research into their ancestors who may have fought in the Civil War will soon have a new resource at their disposal.

Local resident Marcia Simmons, a graduate of Alpena High School now residing in Harrisville, has spent many months gathering information regarding Civil War veterans buried in cemeteries in Alpena County. She has compiled her detailed research into a self-published book, copies of which she plans to donate to both to the Alpena County Library and the Harrisville branch of the Alcona County Library.

The book, called "Civil War Veterans of Alpena County, MI," contains photographs of grave markers of identified veterans as well as a database that focuses on regiments and dates of service of nearly 190 Civil War vets buried in Alpena County cemeteries.

"This is an attempt to ease the way for others seeking their own family ancestors," said Simmons, who is herself a descendent of two Civil War veterans.

Some sources Simmons found helpful and has included in her book are pension records and obituaries. While conducting the research, she also discovered many facts that she found intriguing.

Among those facts are that five of Alpena's first 10 sheriffs (back in the city's early days the then appointed position was called marshal rather than sheriff) had served in the Civil War. She found this out by happenstance. While attending a meeting of the Northeast Michigan Genealogical Society held at the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan, she noticed a photo of Alpena's earliest sheriffs/marshals.

In looking at their names, Simmons realized that she previously had encountered five of them during her research project. A photo of those five men and information about each with regards to their Civil War service is now contained in her book.

Her research also uncovered that during the first election held in Alpena in 1871, and a number of those elected were veterans, including the positions of mayor, treasurer, comptroller, alderman and supervisor.

Several other officials who were appointed that same year also were veterans: the city attorney, city marshal, street commissioner, engineer and master mechanic of the fire department, first assistance engineer and second assistant engineer.

"Alpena is steeped in Civil War involvement in the forming of the town," Simmons said. "I was just floored to learn there was so much Alpena history involving the Civil War.

Though her book is complete, Simmons still remains interested in uncovering more information about those who fought and were connected to area. She still is actively doing research.

"It's been an interesting ride. You know that you are never done," Simmons said. "You keep running across different avenues to explore, even if you don't have time for it right then.

For more information on her research or new book, Simmons may be contacted online at cwalpena@gmail.com.

 
 

 

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