Civil War Hero
Pvt. Jewett B Williams
Born: 1844 Hodgdon, Maine - Died: 1922 Salem, Oregon
From Salem Oregon to Boise, Idaho
Photos and Videos by Q Madp
From The Dallas Chronicle thedallaschronicle.com 07/28/16
Civil War veteran honored
By RaeLynn Ricarte
More than 150 years after the Civil War ended, the remains of a Union soldier are going home for a burial with full military honors.
The cross country journey of the late Jewett Williams begins in Oregon and ends in Maine, with two stops in the gorge on Monday, Aug. 1.
Area residents are being urged by Rod Runyon, Northeast District ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders, to pay their respects to Williams when the carrier holding his cremated remains has brief stops in Cascade Locks and The Dalles.
“People are welcome to bring their flags and be at the two stops to honor this soldier,” said Runyon, who is organizing the escort for Williams from Cascade Locks to the Hermiston exit off Interstate 84.
Bikers wanting to escrot veteran from the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment are asked to meet at Burger King, Sixth and Webber streets in The Dalles, at 10 a.m. Monday.
The group will then travel to Cascade Locks to meet up with PGR riders from the Willamette Valley who are carrying Williams’ remains from Salem, where they were recently found in the basement of an Oregon State Hospital facility.
According to intake records, Williams was admitted to the hospital in 1922 due to poor health tied to progressive senile dementia.
He died three months later on July 17, 1922, of arterial sclerosis.
His ashes were found earlier this year in a copper container stored in the basement of a closed building.
Runyon said the ashes have been placed in a ceramic urn and that urn, plus the copper one, were wrapped in bubble wrap and placed in a wooden box for the journey.
Local PGR members take possession of the remains at the Shell station in Cascade Locks about 11:45 a.m. on Aug. 1.
Runyon said a folded funeral flag will be carried by a different rider and passed on with the urn across the U.S.
PGR is scheduled to be at the Chevron station near The Dalles Bridge about 12:45 p.m. Monday and leave about 15 minutes later.
Runyon recommends that people show up in Cascade Locks by 11:30 and in The Dalles at 12:30 to avoid missing the opportunity to pay tribute to Williams.
“PGR is going to be pushing it to get the remains to Idaho by nightfall so if we roll in early we are going to be leaving earlier,” he said.
Although Runyon recently returned from a ride across the country with “Run for the Wall” to commemorate Memorial Day, he isn’t joining this cavalcade for more than a day.
“Being involved in PGR certainly brings along some interesting missions,” he said. “They open up all kinds of thoughts and feelings about our country and what service really means.”
In 2012, Runyon helped escort the remains of World War II veteran Gerald Kight, a native of White Salmon, whose remains had been unearthed in The Netherlands.
Kight is believed to have died at the age of 23 in September of 1944. He was attached to the Army’s 3rd Battalion of the 40th Parachute Infantry of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Runyon believed then that Kight’s escort would be the most unusual that he would see, but now he is participating in the transport of a Civil War veteran.
“You just never know what you are going to be asked to do next — it’s humbling,” he said.
According to information provided by Mike Edgecomb, the PGR state captain for Maine, who organized the coast-to-coast escort, Williams was born in Houlton, Maine, in May 1844, the eldest of at least nine children to farming parents.
He enlisted in Company H of the 20th Maine on Oct. 12, 1864.
The unit was led by Col. Joshua Chamberlain and Major Ellis Spear and participated in several decisive actions that helped secure Union victory in the later stages of the war.
Williams’ wartime experience included the Battle of Boydton Plant Road, Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Battle of White Oak Road and Battle of Five Forks.
The 20th Maine was reportedly part of the Union force that accepted Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
Following Lee’s surrender, Pvt. Williams and his company marched to Washington, D.C., where they underwent a “grand review” and were mustered out on July 16.
After a first failed marriage, Williams wed Nora Carey in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 14, 1871, and they lost their first child, Franklin, to scarlet fever in 1874.
Over the next 20 years, they had at least five other children, all born in Minnesota.
Williams worked as a carpenter and had moved his family to Pierce County, Wash., by 1892.
There is no record of divorce but Jewett and Nora appear to have drifted apart over the years.
She stayed in Washington with the children and he eventually made his way to Portland, where he spoke at several schools about his wartime experiences.
At the time of the 1920 census, he was listed as a widower. Descendants were unable to be located by Oregon officials who wanted to turn the remains over to family.
The ashes had been stored at the hospital and then apparently forgotten for decades.
The adjutant general of the Maine National Guard expressed the desire to see Williams’ remains returned to his native state and Edgecomb set the wheels in motion.
“Originally, they were going to ship him home but I offered our service to bring him across the country,” he said.
Williams’ remains will be taken to Gettysburg National Cemetery for a special ceremony before arriving in Maine on Aug. 22. The ashes will be buried at Togus National Cemetery on its 150th anniversary observance, which takes place Sept. 17.
“He will be laid to rest with his Civil War brothers in arms,” said Edgecomb.
From The Portland Tribune portlandtribune.com 07/29/16\
Online sleuthing helps send Civil War veteran's remains home to Maine
Created on Friday, 29 July 2016 02:00 | Written by Kevin Harden
Nine decades after his death, Maine Civil War veteran Jewett B. Williams is returning home.
Williams died in July 1922 at age 78 while he was a patient at Oregon State Hospital in Salem. His unclaimed cremated remains were among thousands of corroded copper canisters stored at the hospital for decades.
On Monday, Aug. 1, a ceremony at the state hospital handed his remains to the Patriot Guard Riders, who will escort Williams on a cross-country motorcycle ride to his resting place at the Togus National Cemetery in Chelsea, Maine.
Williams will be buried with full military honors in his native state Sept. 17.
During Monday morning’s ceremony, state Sen. Peter Courtney of Salem, whose discovery 12 years ago of the canisters in a locked hospital storeroom set in motion events that led to the new memorial for the ashes, told a small crowd that he hoped all of the remains eventually “find a way home.”
“We have come to help these lost souls find a way home,” Courtney told the crowd just outside the glass-walled memorial holding the unclaimed cremated remains. “We have come to this hallowed ground to take Private Williams home, home to Maine.
“I am honored to be here today, and pleased to see the empty spaces in this collarium. Each empty place depicting an individual who has gone home because someone has come to claim him or her. Hopefully, someday, like Private Williams, all those lost souls someday will be able to go home.”
A journey West
Williams was born in May 1844 in Hodgdon, Maine, the oldest child of Jared Williams and Rosaline Jackins from New Brunswick, Canada. He had at least eight siblings.
Maine military historians say a 21-year-old Williams was drafted in October 1864 and served the final six months of the Civil War as a private the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment's Company H.
The regiment played a key role in the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, scattering Confederate forces about to attack its Little Round Top position.
During the time Williams served, the regiment was involved in the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, the Battle of White Oak Road and the Battle of Five Forks. The unit also was at Appomattox Court House during Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865.
It was mustered out on July 16, 1865.
In 1871, Williams married Nora Carey in Minneapolis. They had six children (five survived) while living in Brainerd, Minn., where Williams worked as a carpenter.
In 1892, they moved to Everett, Wash. By 1900, his wife was living separately in Snohomish.
In 1903, Williams lived in Portland. In 1914, 1915 and 1919, Williams was among a group of Civil War veterans who spoke in Portland-area schools.
In April 1922, Williams was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane in Salem, for senile dementia. He died in July 1922 of cerebral arteriosclerosis. (Williams’ death certificate misspelled his first name as “Jewitt.”)
Williams is one of three 20th Maine Regiment veterans who died in Oregon. Others were in Astoria and Coos Bay. Five 20th Maine veterans lived in Washington, and a dozen lived in California.
In May 2015, when state hospital officials transferred ashes of about 20 military veterans to Willamette National Cemetery, Williams was not among the group. Hospital staff apparently didn’t know he was a veteran of the Civil War.
Luck of the draw
Williams’ journey home began almost by accident. It started nearly three years ago with the first letter of his last name and culminated in a chance online intersection with a Maine author, a Maine military historian and a Roseburg amateur genealogist who has worked since 2013 to dig up information on hundreds of people whose cremated remains not claimed by families were stored at the hospital and nearly forgotten, in canisters marked with round metal tags that included a name and a number.
“It was just the luck of the draw,” says Phyllis Zegers, a retired Douglas County Education Service District advocate who spends up to 10 hours a day, nearly every day, researching the lives and family links of about 3,500 people whose unclaimed cremated remains are at the hospital.
Most of what she discovers is posted on the genealogy website www.Find-a-Grave.com. Zegers has completed work on information about 1,600 people who died at the hospital. “As far as I know, I’m the only one doing it,” she says.
Zegers isn’t paid for her efforts, but she’s helped draw national attention to the remains. Her work was even the subject of an April 2015 news report by a Johnstown, Pa., television station.
The remains include patients from the state mental hospital in Salem, the Oregon State Tuberculosis Hospital, the Mid-Columbia Hospital, Dammasch State Hospital in Wilsonville, the Oregon State Penitentiary and Fairview Training Center.
State officials say that a hospital memorial fountain with underground vaults called Memorial Circle served for years as a columbarium for the remains. Hospital staff moved the containers to a storeroom because of water damage and leaks.
The state’s $458 million replacement project included a memorial plaza, designed by Seattle’s Lead Pencil Studio and dedicated in July 2014, where hundreds of the remains are displayed behind a glass wall.
‘Let’s start here’
Zegers began researching Williams’ life after spending several years digging into her family’s history. She zipped around Ancestry.com, online news archives and genealogy websites finding information about her kin, until, Zegers says, she became “bored with that” and wanted a new challenge.
During her family research, Zegers discovered a distant cousin who had been institutionalized at the state hospital in the 1880s. She dug a little deeper and discovered the thousands of cremated remains of patients who died that were unclaimed by family.
“I thought that would make a very interesting little project to start researching those people,” Zegers says. “I was honoring their lives.”
She found a smattering of other information about the remains that had been posted on websites. Some of that research (fueled by Courtney’s 2007 bill to fund replacement of the aging hospital building and allow public release of the names of unclaimed remains) started at the beginning of the alphabet. So, Zegers decided to start near the end of the alphabet. Her first project was Jewett B. Williams.
“I just said, ‘Let’s start here,’ ” Zegers says.
Forging new links
Her 12-paragraph information about Williams’ life was posted on Find-a-Grave.com in October 2013. In early 2015, Maine author and historian Tom A. Desjardin came across the information as he researched a new book about the 20th Maine Regiment.
Desjardin’s 1995 book, “Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign,” focused on the Civil War. His new research looked at the entire history of the regiment, ending in the 1930s, when its last members died.
Desjardin has studied the 20th Maine Regiment for more than four decades (his doctoral thesis became the 1995 book). His research has led to burial sites for many of the regiment’s members.
“So far, I have located the graves of 700 men who served in the regiment, which is about half of the total,” Desjardin says.
As Maine’s education commissioner at the time, Desjardin mentioned his discovery at a meeting of the governor’s cabinet and urged the Northeast state’s adjutant general and director of veterans affairs to pursue returning Williams’ ashes to Maine.
Maine’s U.S. Sen. Angus King also stepped in and asked Oregon to return Williams' remains. The request was handled by Oregon’s Department of Veterans Affairs, which is coordinating the handover early next week.
Daniel Goodheart, deputy commissioner of Maine’s Department of Defense and Emergency Management, says it is “common practice” to honor veterans by returning their remains to their home states.
“This is the only Civil War remains returned in anyone’s memory,” Goodheart says. “It surely happened before, but not recently. We have had repatriated remains from WWII and Vietnam in the past couple of months.”
In stepped Lt. Jonathan D. Bratten, Maine Army National Guard historian, who began communicating with Zegers by email in November 2015, while gathering information about Williams. After Bratten’s initial email, Zegers says she dug deeper into Williams’ life, finding even more about the Maine native.
Usually, when Zegers finds someone willing to claim a patient’s ashes, they often are shocked and surprised that their relative was at the hospital. This is the first time she’s helped connect a Civil War veteran with his home state.
“Jewett was actually one of the very first people I researched and posted on Find-a-Grave.com,” she says. “I was looking for living relatives, but I never found any.”
Zegers plans to attend Monday’s ceremony handing Williams’ remains to the Patriot Guard Riders. It’s a fitting tribute to her “labor of love.”
“There are a lot of different stories and a lot of different paths to getting there,” she says. “I really enjoy connecting with the families and hearing what they plan to do, and the connections that living relatives make with each other. There ends up being a lot of new links that are made among the people who claim these ashes.”
From The Portland Press Herald pressherald.com 07/30/16:
Civil War vet’s ashes to wind their way back home to Maine
The Aroostook County man, who fought with the 20th Maine, died alone in an Oregon asylum in 1922.
BY MATT BYRNE STAFF WRITER
Jewett Williams was 21 years old in 1864 when the reach of the Civil War found him in Hodgdon, a smudge of a town along the Canadian border in Aroostook County.
Drafted and mustered, Williams joined the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and soon found himself on the front lines of the war, now in its final throes. He survived eight major battles, and was present when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
But Williams’ story – and his role in one of the most celebrated units of the Civil War – was nearly lost forever until a Maine historian stumbled across records last year that showed he died alone in an Oregon mental institution in 1922, his body cremated and then forgotten for nearly a century.
“They cremated the remains, put him on a shelf, and waited for the family to pick it up, and no one did,” said Thomas Desjardin, former Maine education commissioner and a longtime Civil War historian who has spent 40 years studying the 20th Maine and its soldiers.
Now, with the help of Desjardin and several private citizens and public officials, Williams’ ashes will be returned to the Togus National Cemetery in Chelsea, where he will finally rest beside his fellow soldiers.
Williams’ remains will wind their way across the country courtesy of the Patriot Guard Riders, a national volunteer group of motorcyclists who help honor fallen soldiers. The remains will be handed off to members of the Oregon chapter, who will ferry Williams’ remains east, passing them from one state’s club to the next.
“It’s kind of a Pony Express transfer,” said Mike Edgecomb, the leader of the Maine Patriot Guard Riders.
The route is being finalized, but the plan calls for Edgecomb to meet up with Williams’ remains in Appomattox before heading north. The remains are expected to arrive around Aug. 22. An interment ceremony, complete with a Civil War-era color guard, is planned for Sept. 17.
Williams also will get a send-off ceremony Monday morning at the Oregon State Hospital Memorial in Salem, with Civil War re-enactors, before his remains are transferred to the Patriot Guard Riders.
The journey to get Williams home has taken 18 months of on-again, off-again planning since Desjardin discovered Williams’ connection to Maine in 2015. At the time, Desjardin was also serving as the acting education commissioner, and in his spare time was researching a book on the lives of 20th Maine soldiers, methodically combing old records to pinpoint where each of the unit’s 1,500 soldiers was buried.
Unknown to Desjardin, health officials in Oregon already had been doing plenty of historical scouring of their own, trying to find the rightful homes for the remains of nearly 3,500 patients who had died at the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane.
In 2004, hospital staff stumbled onto a cache of nearly 3,500 copper urns secreted away in a locked shed on the hospital grounds. Each urn contained the ashes of former patients who had never received proper burial.
The discovery was a bombshell, and stood as a symbol of the longstanding marginalization and mistreatment of the mentally ill, sparking Oregon to invest millions of dollars into improving care for the mentally ill. The Oregonian newspaper won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing for editorials about abuses that took place in the mental hospital.
“It was a gut-check moment, a watershed moment for reform of the hospital,” said Tyler Franke, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.
Oregon state lawmakers also began the slow, painstaking process of cataloging and taking inventory of the names and identities of the deceased.
Franke said officials are still working their way through all the remains to search for surviving relatives, but the process has been difficult.
Oregon-based researchers assembled a history of Williams’ life, including details of his military service with the 20th Maine and his family life, which included two marriages and a post-war life spent steadily moving west.
After the war, Williams mustered out in Portland on July 16, 1865.
He returned to Aroostook County and married a woman named Emma, but they divorced in 1871. That same year, Williams moved to Minnesota and married again, this time to Nora Carey, in Minneapolis.
Together they had six children, and by 1885, had settled in Brainerd, Minnesota.
That marriage also didn’t last, and by 1889, Nora was listed as a “widow” in the city directory of St. Paul, but the couple apparently reunited and moved to Washington state by 1892.
“He kept moving to where the land was cheap and where population was growing,” Desjardin said. “This happened with a lot of men. They saw Virginia (where) the fields are flat and not full of rocks.”
But Williams’ family life frayed once again, according to the 1900 census, which showed he was working part time as a carpenter and renting out rooms to several boarders. His wife was listed as living about 9 miles away.
By 1919, Williams had apparently moved to Oregon, and was among a group of Civil War veterans who spoke at schools in the Portland area, local newspapers reported at the time.
In 1920, at the time of the census, Williams was estranged from his wife and was listed as a widower in Portland. He told census-takers that he worked as a common laborer, even at 75.
Two years later, on April 14, 1922, Williams was admitted to what was then called the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane in Salem. The “reason for insanity” was listed as senility.
A hospital photograph shows him bearded and with an eye patch, his name and a number scratched into the print.
He died at the hospital two months later at the age of 78, cremated and forgotten for nearly 90 years.
“He outlived everyone (in his family), as far as we can determine,” Desjardin said. “For all we know, he never wanted to come back to Maine. He left after the war and never came back.”
From The Idaho Statesman idahostatesman.com 07/31/16
Idaho Patriot Guard Riders to help bring Civil War veteran home
BY JOHN SOWELL
Ninety-four years after a Civil War veteran’s cremated remains were stored away and forgotten at an Oregon mental hospital, Pvt. Jewett Williams is going home to Maine.
Members of the Idaho Patriot Guard Riders, a group that honors fallen U.S. military personnel, will escort the remains through Idaho and hand them off to another chapter in Montana.
“It’s a tremendous honor for us to be asked to be part of the escort,” said Dario Bell, state captain for the Patriot Guard Riders. “That’s the ultimate respect we can provide to him.”
Williams grew up in Hodgdon, Maine, a small farming town just west of the U.S. border with New Brunswick, Canada, where his parents were raised. In October 1864, at age 21, he enlisted in Company H of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The regiment took part in three battles near Petersburg, Va., in late 1864 and early 1865.
It also participated in Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s April 9, 1865, surrender at the Appomattox Courthouse and later marched to Washington, D.C., where a military procession and celebration dubbed the Grand Review of the Armies took place on May 23 and 24, 1865.
Monday morning in Salem, the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs will transfer Williams’ remains to the Oregon chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders. Civil War re-enactors dressed in period 20th Maine uniforms will serve as a color guard.
The Idaho riders will take possession of the remains Monday night at the Pilot Travel Center in Ontario, Ore. They will be held overnight, along with a folded American flag, at the Cloverdale Funeral Home, 1200 N. Cloverdale Road.
At 7 a.m. Tuesday, a flag line to honor Williams will form outside the funeral home as the remains are loaded for the rest of the trip through Idaho. Veterans and others wishing to pay respects to Williams are invited to attend, said Bell, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Additional stops will take place in Mountain Home, Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls. The remains will pass to a Montana group at Monida, Mont., 80 miles north of Idaho Falls, about 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The remains are scheduled to arrive in Maine on Aug. 22.
“It feels great to finally do justice by him and give him the honor he deserves — a burial in a national cemetery with full military honors,” said Tom Desjardin, a Maine historian who learned that Williams’ remains were stored at the Oregon hospital.
Desjardin, former Maine commissioner of education and an 11th-generation Maine resident, has studied the 20th Maine for more than four decades. He has collected information on the burial sites for 700 of the unit’s veterans, about half of the total.
During a meeting last year of Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s Cabinet, Desjardin suggested to state military officials that Williams’ remains be returned to Maine for a proper burial. They agreed.
“Because the 20th Maine is such a famous regiment today, people think of the members as heroes and don’t always realize that these were regular people who often died alone, in far-off institutions, without any fanfare,” Desjardin said. “Private Williams helps remind us that many who serve (in all wars) are never given the proper credit they deserve and often end up, literally or figuratively, as a forgotten can on a shelf.”
After the war, Williams became a carpenter. In the 1880s he lived in Brainerd, Minn., with his second wife, Nora Carey, according to census records researched by Phyllis Zegers of Roseburg, Ore., a volunteer with the Oregon State Hospital genealogy project.
The Williamses later moved to the Tacoma area in what was then Washington Territory. Williams also lived in Everett, Wash., before moving to Portland by 1903.
Zegers found newspaper references that Williams spoke at schools in the Portland area between 1914 and 1919. In the 1920 census, the Portland resident was listed as a widower.
On April 14, 1922, Williams was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane, the same Salem hospital used for the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Records indicate he was admitted to the hospital for senility. He died three months later, at age 78.
PATRIOT GUARD REACHES A DECADE
Nationally, the Patriot Guard Riders formed in 2005 to counteract a protest waged by members of the Westboro Baptist Church at the funeral of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John Doles in Chelsea, Okla. Members of an American Legion Riders group in Kansas led a group of veterans and other motorcycle enthusiasts to the funeral to honor Doles, killed in Afghanistan, and later attended other military funerals.
Bell expects 20 to 30 riders to participate in each Idaho leg of the trip for Williams. Some will go the entire distance while others may ride from one stop to another, he said.
A burial will take place Sept. 17 at Togus National Cemetery in Chelsea, Maine. It will take place during the 150th anniversary celebration for the adjacent Togus Veterans Hospital, the oldest Veterans Affairs hospital in the nation, located 6 miles east of Augusta, the state capital.
From Fox News U.S. foxnews.com 08/01/16
Civil War vet's ashes are on motorcycle ride across America
Published August 01, 2016 Associated Press
SALEM, Oregon – Jewett Williams served in the 20th Maine Regiment in the Civil War. When he died in 1922 at an Oregon insane asylum, he was cremated and his ashes were stored and forgotten along with the remains of thousands of other patients.
With a color guard in Civil War-era uniforms present, Oregon State Hospital officials handed over Williams' ashes to a group of motorcycle-riding military veterans for a journey across the country to his home state.
"He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father. At the end of his life, however, he was alone and institutionalized here," Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said at the ceremony. "When he died, nobody came. Nobody came to honor him. Nobody came to take him home. Nobody came. Until today."
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that attends the funerals of U.S. military veterans, firefighters and police, then solemnly received the ashes, started their Harleys and began the long journey to Maine. Wearing leather vests festooned with patches describing their branches of service and American flags flapping from their bikes, the group will escort the remains in relays across America.
The ashes of hundreds of other patients were left behind, in urns embedded in a wall at a memorial on the grounds of the hospital made famous in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," a film starring Jack Nicholson and adapted from a novel by Ken Kesey. It was in 2004 that Courtney, on a tour, found the ashes in corroding copper cans, stashed in a shed of more than 3,600 people who died at the Oregon State Hospital and other institutions.
In 2014, a memorial was opened, where the remains are labeled with names, birth and death dates and embedded in a wall. A gap now exists where Williams' urn had been. Over 300 other remains have been claimed.
"Here we are in this honored spot with all these unclaimed souls," Geno Williams, a U.S. Army special forces veteran and Patriot Guard Rider from Vancouver, Washington, who is not related to Jewett, murmured to a reporter after blinking away tears, "It is an emotional moment for me."
Jewett Williams had joined Company H of the 20th Maine more than a year after it famously prevented a Union defeat at Gettysburg with a bayonet charge at Little Round Top. But many engagements remained to be fought by the time Williams, of Hodgdon, Maine, joined in October 1864. His regiment was at the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, and in battles with the rebels right up to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, in April 1865, said Maine historian Tom Desjardin.
"The New Englanders were actively engaged with Grant's army in the long siege of Petersburg and the running fight with Lee to Appomattox," said James I. Robertson Jr., retired professor of Civil War history at Virginia Tech.
Jewett shared a tent with his cousin, Albert Williams, who in a letter, reflecting his rudimentary education described long marches in bad weather and sleeping in the open, according to a family history published online in 2005 by Barbara Ann Estabrook. He also described a scorched-earth campaign.
"i didnt have a chance to get a shot at a reb when we on the rode but i made the Cattle and Sheep and hogs suffer. You bet we killed every thing that we see and burnt every thing as we went," Albert Williams wrote on Dec. 18, 1864, less than four months before he died of fever at age 21.
Jewett Williams was married and divorced, then remarried and moved to Michigan, then to Minnesota where he was a carpenter. Their first child died after only 19 months. They had five more children and moved to Washington state, where the couple separated. In the 1920 census, Williams was listed as a widower in Portland, Oregon.
In April 1922, Williams was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane in Salem, as the hospital was then known. He died on July 17, 1922, at 78, of cerebral arteriosclerosis.
None of Jewett's descendants has been found.
His remains are scheduled to arrive in Maine on Aug. 22 and will be buried with military honors in Togus National Cemetery in Maine on Sept. 17. A period-correct white marble veterans headstone will mark the spot, said Dave Richmond, deputy director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services.
"He will rejoin his comrades-in-arms in Maine," said Greg Roberts, the superintendent of Oregon State Hospital. Also buried at Togus are five other 20th Maine veterans, including one from Company H.
From NBC 16 KMTR Eugene Oregon nbc16.com 08/01/16
Civil War veteran's ashes will return home nearly a century after his death
BY AUDREY WEIL MONDAY, AUGUST 1ST 2016
SALEM, Ore. – U.S. armed forces honored a Civil War veteran Monday who died 96 years ago at the Oregon State Hospital. In the decades after his death, no one came to claim his ashes.
For nearly a century, Pvt. Jewett Williams' ashes were housed at the Oregon State Hospital, along with more than 3,000 other forgotten people. That is, until Monday.
“We are here now to transfer him back to the state of Maine to honor his service during the civil war and to make sure that he receives the burial that he is due,” said Cameron Smith, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Williams lived in Maine before moving to Oregon near the end of his life. When he died in Oregon, nobody claimed him, nobody honored him.
“It's very gratifying to see someone repatriated to their family or to their home state and it's very exciting,” said Phyllis Zegers, genealogy researcher.
It’s all thanks to Zegers. She researched and wrote about Williams.
Servicemen in Maine found her research online and now, the veteran will be honored and returned home.
“That they would run into my research and then take it from there was really exciting,” Zegers said.
His ashes will move across the country by motorcycle with an organization called the Patriot Guard Riders.
“Often, The Patriot Guard and others honor those most recent casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan, but very rare to have a civil war veteran,” Smith said.
“All of us find it a real honor and a privilege to be able to do this and the veterans are the reason that we have that privilege,” said Blake Lee, ride captain of the Oregon Patriot Guard.
And for the remaining stories behind the thousands of unclaimed ashes, Zegers says she’s going to research every one of them so they too can return home.
The Patriot Guard Riders plan to arrive in Gettysburg on August 22. There, they’ll transfer custody of the ashes to the State of Maine.
Civil War veteran gets his due
Idaho Statesman 08/02/16
From Local News 8 localnews8.com 08/02/16
Civil war veteran's cremains headed home
POSTED: 07:47 PM MDT Aug 02, 2016
POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) -
A man's cremains were transported from Oregon to Maine, but made a stop in Pocatello Tuesday. The man's name was Jewett Williams, a civil war veteran who died in 1922. His cremains were not discovered until just recently.
Many Patriot Guard Riders came to the Maverick gas station, but it wasn't for the gas prices.
“We're here honoring a civil war veteran. Who's cremains were discovered unclaimed in a sanitarium in Oregon. And somebody actually researched and found he was in the civil war,” said Lyle Frost, Patriot Guard Rider, Nampa.
His ashes were sitting away in a canister for over nine decades. And Findagrave.com had plenty of information on Williams and his rich history. He enlisted in Company H of the Maine 20th Infantry Regiment in 1864, and got out the following year.
He was married a few times throughout the mid to late 1800s and had 6 children. But by 1920, he lived alone in Portland, OR.
In 1922, he was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem for the insane, as the website puts it. It says he was admitted for having dementia. He died three months later and was cremated. Since then, no one had claimed his ashes until now.
The motorcyclists of the Patriot Guard Riders proudly switched over his ashes with a different biker on Tuesday at Maverick, all followed by a military solute. The rider went on to Idaho Falls and stopped around 1p.m. with the rest of the group.
Frost says it's an honor to help the veteran who's long overdue to go home.
“He needs to be honored. He deserves to be honored. And he is being honored. That's what the Patriot Guard does, we honor our veterans,” said Frost.
Williams is expected to be buried with full military honors on September 17th in Chelsea, Maine.
From My Country 95.5 mycountry955.com 08/02/16
Wyoming Patriot Guard Will Help Escort Civil War Veteran Across Wyoming August 3rd
By Brian Scott August 2, 2016 10:19 AM
The Patriot Guard Riders will transport the remains of Jewett Williams from Oregon to Maine starting August 1, 2016. Mr. Williams will arrive in Maine on August 21/22, 2016, and will be buried at Togus National Cemetery in Chelsea, Maine on September 17, 2016, with full Military Honors.
The Patriot Guard Riders of Wyoming will be meeting with members of the Montana riders on the morning of August 3rd and provide escort from the northern Wyoming border along I-90 with fuel stops in Sheridan, Buffalo, Moorcroft and Beulah before turning over the escort to South Dakota Guard riders to continue the journey.
Jewett B. Williams was born in Maine in May 1844 to Jared Williams and Rosaline Jackins, who were actually natives of Canada. He was the oldest of nine children. On Oct. 12, 1864, Jewett enlisted in Company H of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, led by Col. Joshua Chamberlain and Maj. Ellis Spear.
After the war, Williams became a carpenter. In the 1880s he lived in Brainerd, Minnesota and later moved to the Tacoma area in what was then Washington Territory. Williams also lived in Everett, Washington before moving to Portland by 1903.
In the early 1900’s Jewett was among Civil War veterans who would speak at Portland-area public schools for Memorial Day events. At the time of the 1920 census, he was listed as a widower in Portland, OR. He was listed as having worked as a “common laborer” at the age of 75.
On April 14, 1922, he was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital. He was in poor health and suffering from “progressive senile dementia,” according to his intake records. He died three months later, on July 17, of arterial sclerosis. He was 78 years old.
Williams died at what is now called the Oregon State Hospital in 1922, just a few months after being admitted. Patients whose bodies were not claimed by family were cremated, the ashes put in canisters and into a shed where his remains were never claimed.
After all these years, with a little help from the Wyoming Patriot Guard, this soldier will finally be laid to rest.
Patriot Guard Riders escort Civil War veteran's remains
ABC TV Ch 6 Idaho
From Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs oregondva.com 08/03/16
Civil War soldier begins cross-country journey home
On Oct. 12, 1864, a man named Jewett Williams joined the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army. The 21-year-old son of Canadian immigrants and small-town farmers, he went on to participate in several decisive engagements that helped secure the Union’s victory in the waning months of the Civil War.
He was even present at that Appomattox, Va., court house on April 9, 1865, to receive the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, one of the most singularly monumental moments in our nation’s history.
Sadly, history did not remember him. Almost 60 years later, he died in obscurity, at a mental institution on the other side of the country that he helped preserve.
After the war, Jewett Williams became a carpenter. He was married twice and had at least six children, not all of whom survived into adulthood.
He lived in Maine, Minnesota and Washington, before finally settling in Portland, Ore.
On April 14, 1922, he was committed to the state asylum, which is now called the Oregon State Hospital. He was in poor health and suffering from progressive senile dementia and hallucinations.
The only known photo of Jewett Williams is from his intake: It shows him with white hair, a white beard and wearing a black patch over his left eye. He died three months later, on July 17, of arterial sclerosis. He was 78 years old.
His body was cremated, and his remains were put in a copper canister. They were never claimed.
In 2004, the canister containing Williams’ cremains, along with thousands of others, was rediscovered by Oregon Sen. Peter Courtney during a tour of the state hospital’s grounds. The find sparked outrage and calls for reform across the state, eventually culminating in a $458 million investment that helped build two new, state-of-the-art mental facilities.
“We owe them,” Courtney said of the cremains, which he often refers to as “the forgotten souls.” “We owe them. They’re the ones who built the Oregon State Hospital that has now become so extraordinary.”
That 2004 discovery also fueled interest in the cremains themselves. A memorial was established at the Salem campus of the Oregon State Hospital, and efforts were renewed to locate family members of or final resting places for the cremains that remained unclaimed.
Last year, the work of volunteer genealogist Phyllis Zegers caught the eye of a Maine historian researching the 20th Maine. Using online records, Zegers had written a bio of Jewett Williams that highlighted his service during the Civil War.
The historian, Tom Desjardin, who was also the state’s education commissioner at the time, proposed to the adjutant general of the Maine National Guard and the director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services the idea of returning Williams’ cremains to his native state for a proper military burial.
Officials in Maine and Oregon have been working since then to coordinate the complicated task of sending Jewett Williams home. That journey began the same place his journey in life ended: at the Oregon State Hospital.
On Aug. 1, a crowd of hospital and state employees, veterans, local dignitaries and others gathered to honor Pvt. Jewett Williams. He was finally given the dignified and moving ceremony he deserved, but never received, when he died almost a hundred years earlier.
“We are here to help correct the record,” said Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Cameron Smith, “to ensure that this Civil War soldier receives the final honors he earned through his service.”
Jewett Williams was, in the words of Oregon State Hospital Superintendent Greg Roberts, a “veteran who, like so many others, time and society had forgotten.”
“We don’t know if his war experiences played a part in his psychiatric hospitalization,” Roberts said. “But we do know that like many veterans of today that have returned home struggling with mental illness and PTSD, he should not and will not be forgotten.”
Sen. Courtney spoke of Williams’ final days.
“He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father. At the end of his life, however, he was alone. He was alone and institutionalized here,” Courtney said. “While he spent only three months here at Oregon State Hospital, when he died, nobody came. Nobody came. Nobody came to honor him. Nobody came to take him home. Nobody came. Until today.”
At the end of the ceremony, a blessing was said, and the cremains of Pvt. Jewett Williams were transferred into the solemn and respectful hands of the Patriot Guard Riders, who will escort him along the 3,000-mile journey with honor and care.
All that remains of Jewett Williams’ time in Oregon is a hollow brass tube, which now occupies the space that once held his cremated ashes. It is a symbol that he is gone, but not forgotten. It is a symbol that he has gone home.
From History history.com 08/03/16
Vets on Harleys Escorting Civil War Soldier’s Ashes Home
AUGUST 3, 2016 By Christopher Klein
Following a ceremony at a psychiatric hospital in Salem, Oregon, on Monday, a group of motorcycle-riding volunteers set off on a cross-country trip to deliver the unclaimed ashes of Civil War veteran Jewett Williams to his home state of Maine where—more than 150 years after his military service—his cremated remains will be buried with full military honors.
When Jewett Williams died in an Oregon psychiatric institution in 1922, no one came to claim the Civil War veteran’s grizzled body. Like thousands of other lost souls, the old man’s cremated remains were poured into a copper canister and unceremoniously shuffled from one location to another on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital in the state capital of Salem until they were locked out of sight for years in a storage room. As a final indignity in death, the Maine native’s name wasn’t even spelled correctly on the label attached to his remains.
Williams may have been forgotten to time had the corroding canisters holding his ashes and those of more than 3,600 others not been discovered in 2004 by Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney. Now, nearly a century after his death, Williams is finally heading home to be buried with full military honors.
“He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father. At the end of his life, however, he was alone,” Courtney said on Monday at a ceremony in front of an outdoor memorial, which opened in 2014, that displayed the copper canisters of the Oregon State Hospital’s unclaimed remains behind a glass wall. “When he died, nobody came. Nobody came to honor him. Nobody came to take him home. Nobody came…until today.”
Following the ceremony attended by dignitaries, veterans’ advocates and Civil War re-enactors, the soldier’s ashes were entrusted to the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcycle-riding volunteers that honor fallen soldiers and attend the funerals of U.S. military veterans, firefighters and police officers. Wearing leather jackets studded with military patches, the bikers stood at attention and saluted as a wooden box containing a folded American flag and the veteran’s remains was packed onto the back of one of the motorcycles. As the engines of more than two-dozen Harley-Davidsons and other motorcycles roared, the Patriot Guard Riders began the first leg of a 3,000-mile journey as the American flags mounted on their bikes whipped in the breeze.
The precious cargo will be transferred from state chapter to state chapter as part of a cross-country relay that will include hundreds of riders. “It’s kind of a Pony Express transfer,” Mike Edgecomb, leader of the Maine Patriot Guard Riders, told the Portland Press-Herald.
Williams may still have been lost to history had it not been for a pair of dogged researchers. According to the Portland Tribune, amateur genealogist Phyllis Zegers of Roseburg, Oregon, learned of the existence of the thousands of unclaimed remains at the Oregon State Hospital while researching her family history. She began to research the lives of those patients and posted more than 1,600 biographies, including that of Williams, online. In early 2015, Thomas Desjardin, a Civil War historian and author of “Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign,” was conducting further research on the Union Army unit when he discovered Zegers’s write-up. Desjardin proposed the return of the private’s ashes to Maine, and earlier this year the adjutant general of the Maine National Guard made a formal request.
Born in 1844, Jewett Williams was the oldest of at least nine children. He grew up in Hodgdon, Maine, a small farming village that scraped against the Canadian border. Although he hailed from the farthest corner of the United States, the 20-year-old joined the fight to preserve the Union in October 1864. Williams served as a private in Company H of Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine Infantry Regiment, which had gained fame for its valiant charge up Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. Although the war was in its closing months, it didn’t appear that way to Williams, who saw plenty of action during the siege of Petersburg.
Williams was present at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, when the Civil War came to an effective end with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. After parading through the streets of the nation’s capital as part of a grand review, Williams mustered out of the army in July 1865 and returned to Maine. Like many post-war Americans, he eventually moved west—bouncing from Michigan to Minnesota to Washington. Once he reached the Pacific Northwest, the father of at least five children appeared to drift apart from his wife and family. By 1903 he was living alone in Portland, Oregon. On April 14, 1922, Williams was admitted to the institution known at the time as the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane because of progressive senility. His stay was not a long one. He died there on July 17, 1922, at the age of 78 from cerebral arteriosclerosis.
It’s not known what became of his wife, his children or any descendants. For now, though, the Patriot Guard Riders are his companions. Plans call for the soldier’s remains to be taken to Gettysburg National Cemetery and Appomattox Court House before arriving in Maine on August 22. A police escort will accompany the private’s ashes from the Maine border to Togus National Cemetery in Chelsea, Maine. Although the cemetery is closed to new interments, a special dispensation was granted for the Civil War veteran to rest alongside his fellow soldiers from the 20th Maine. At a special ceremony on September 17, Williams will be buried with full military honors and fulfill a motto emblazoned on a patch worn by one of the Patriot Guard Riders: “The Nation That Forgets Its Defenders Will Itself Be Forgotten.”
From The Billings Gazette billingsgazette.com 08/03/16
Montana bikers help deliver Civil War vet to final resting place
By JORDON NIEDERMEIER Aug 3, 2016
The remains of a long forgotten Civil War veteran passed through Billings on the back of a motorcycle Wednesday on their way to the man’s hometown and final resting place in Maine.
The Patriot Guard Riders, an organization of motorcycle riders who attend military funerals, are transporting the cremated remains of Union soldier Jewett Williams across the country to honor his service and recognize his life. Montana state chapter members transferred the ashes at Beartooth Harley-Davidson before completing the next leg to the Wyoming border.
Former Montana Patriot Guard captain Wes Lambert received the ashes in Billings from current captain Lewis Wendt, who carried the remains from the Idaho/Montana state line.
Lambert said the group does similar state-to-state escorts about twice a year, but this is the first Civil War veteran he can remember.
“It’s kind of a record for me,” he said. “One of the mottoes in Patriot Guard is that we remember everyone, and I think this is a prime example.”
Williams served in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. After the Civil War he moved west to Washington and later to Portland, Ore. He suffered from dementia toward the end of his life and in 1922 was admitted to an insane asylum, where he would die a few months later at age 78.
Williams’ body was cremated, and his ashes were never claimed. His urn was one of more than 3,600 discovered in the old Oregon State Hospital in 2004.
The Patriot Guard began the relay in Salem, Ore., on Aug. 1 and plan to deliver Williams’ remains to Maine by Aug. 22. He’ll be buried with military honors at Togus National Cemetery.
From Rapid City, SD NBC Newscenter 1 newscenter1.tv 08/04/16
Local riders take part in transfer of Civil War veteran
Posted: Aug 04, 2016 10:25 AM PDT Updated: Aug 05, 2016 12:59 PM PDT
By Monica Davis
RAPID CITY, S.D. -
For the American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders, the phrase "fallen, but not forgotten," holds real meaning. After the remains of a Civil War veteran was found in the basement of an old asylum in Oregon, a mission began to return him home.
Jewett Williams, a member of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, will finally be properly laid to rest. Patriot Guard Riders have been traveling state to state on an escort mission to get Williams back to Maine.
On August 4, the American Legion Post 22, Patriot Guard, and Golden Knight members escorted Williams from Rapid City to Sioux City, IA. The journey to Maine will continue from there. Williams' remains are scheduled to arrive on August 22 and will be buried with military honors at the Togus National Cemetery on September 17. Williams will be buried alongside five other veterans from the 20th of Maine.
From Casper Wyoming Star Tribune trib.com 08/04/16
Civil War vet's ashes pass through Billings on ride to Maine
Updated Aug 4, 2016
BILLINGS, Mont. — A group of motorcycle-riding military veterans who are carrying the ashes of a Civil War veteran to their final resting place have passed through Montana and Wyoming.
The Montana state chapter members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that attends the funerals of U.S. military veterans, firefighters and police, transferred the ashes of Jewett Williams on Wednesday before completing the next leg to the Wyoming border.
Williams served in the 20th Maine Regiment in the Civil War. When he died in 1922 at an Oregon insane asylum, he was cremated and his ashes were stored and forgotten along with the remains of thousands of other patients. On Monday the Patriot Guard Riders took off to Maine, where Williams' ashes will be laid to rest with military honors.
From KEVN Black Hills FOX blackhillsfox.com 08/04/16
Local vets help escort Civil War veteran's remains back home
By Jack Caudill | Posted: Thu 6:40 PM, Aug 04, 2016 | Updated: Thu 7:01 PM, Aug 04, 2016
Jewett Williams was a Civil War veteran of the Maine 20th Volunteer Infantry Regiment who died in 1922.
Thursday morning, a group of veterans right here in the Black Hills did their part to aid in the journey of Williams' remains back to his home state of Maine.
Williams died in a hospital in Oregon, and his remains were never claimed.
Now, finally, a motorcycle relay across the country is taking Williams home.
The Post 22 American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard Riders left Rapid City Thursday morning, escorting Williams on their leg of the trip to Vivian.
For them, this is truly special...
American Legion Riders road captain Ron Root says, "To me, it's an honor. We honor them and all the fallen. And to honor a Civil War veteran is very special."
Steve Dutton of the Patriot Guard Riders says, "Shock. You expect a Vietnam veteran, a World War II verteran on occasion, but you just don't expect a Civil War veteran to need an escort. It's a great and wonderful opportunity and we're happy to be able to take part in it."
The relay is scheduled to arrive in Maine later this month, with burial at Togas National Cemetery on September 17th.
From Siouxland's News Channel KTIV 4 NBC ktiv.com 08/05/16
The remains of a Civil War veteran were honored in Siouxland
By Michaela Feldmann, KTIV Intern
SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -
Tribute was paid to a Civil War veteran whose remains are being transported across the country to a final resting place, nearly a century after his death.
Throughout the cross-country route, members of the Patriot Guard Riders arranged for his journey home.
Friday, they made a stop in Sioux City
"We're what you would call a group of patriotic Americans that feel it's important to pay attention to both our past and current military so that they know that their service and their sacrifices mean something," said Cox.
Friday's stop at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center was a part of the cross country escort of Private Jewett Williams' remains from Oregon to Maine.
Private Williams was a member of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and served in the later part of the Civil War.
Steve Cox is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders of Iowa. He said they provide a range of services for military funerals.
"This one's special because it's a part of history," said Steve Cox, State Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of Iowa.
After the war, Private Williams moved to Oregon. He passed several years later at the age of 78.
His ashes have been stored in an Oregon hospital ever since.
"This gentleman's been out there on this shelf, lost if you will, for all these years with no family to be found. So no one to recover him," said Cox.
Cox said much of their involvement focuses on what they call missions where they honor the fallen.
"It's our way of giving back," said Cox.
And after 94 years, Private Williams is finally going home.
"We're honored to be able to escort and take him back home to Maine to his final resting place," said Cox.
Private Williams' remains will be buried with full military honors on September 17 at a National Cemetery in Chelsea, Maine.
From The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette nwaonline.com
Yank's ashes go home
Civil War veteran long dead and forgotten in Oregon now with bikers, going to Maine
By ANDREW SELSKY The Associated Press
Posted: August 7, 2016 at 3:47 a.m.
SALEM, Oregon -- Jewett Williams served in the 20th Maine Regiment in the Civil War. When he died in 1922 at an Oregon insane asylum, he was cremated and his ashes were stored and forgotten along with the remains of thousands of other patients.
With a color guard in Civil War-era uniforms present, Oregon State Hospital officials handed over Williams' ashes to a group of motorcycle-riding military veterans for a journey across the country to his home state.
"He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father. At the end of his life, however, he was alone and institutionalized here," Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said at the ceremony. "When he died, nobody came. Nobody came to honor him. Nobody came to take him home. Nobody came. Until today."
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that attends the funerals of U.S. military veterans, firefighters and police, then solemnly received the ashes, started their Harleys and began the long journey to Maine. Wearing leather vests festooned with patches describing their branches of service, and American flags flapping from their bikes, the group will escort the remains in relays across America.
The ashes of hundreds of other patients remain at a memorial on the grounds of the hospital made famous in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a film starring Jack Nicholson and adapted from the novel by Ken Kesey. It was in 2004 that Courtney, on a tour, found the ashes of more than 3,600 people who died at the Oregon State Hospital and other institutions, stashed away in a shed in corroding copper cans.
In 2014, the memorial was opened with the remains of patients unclaimed by relatives kept in urns labeled with names, birth and death dates, and embedded in a wall. A gap now exists where Williams' urn had been. Over 300 other remains have been claimed.
"Here we are in this honored spot with all these unclaimed souls," Geno Williams, a U.S. Army special forces veteran and Patriot Guard Rider from Vancouver, Wash., murmured to a reporter after blinking away tears. "It is an emotional moment for me."
The 20th Maine famously prevented a Union defeat at Gettysburg with a bayonet charge at Little Round Top. Williams, of Hodgdon, Maine, joined in October 1864, more than a year later, but many engagements remained. His regiment was at the siege of Petersburg, Va., and in battles with the rebels right up to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Va., in April 1865, said Maine historian Tom Desjardin.
"The New Englanders were actively engaged with [Gen. Ulysses] Grant's army in the long siege of Petersburg and the running fight with Lee to Appomattox," said James I. Robertson Jr., retired professor of Civil War history at Virginia Tech.
Jewett shared a tent with his cousin, Albert Williams, who, in a letter reflecting his rudimentary education, described long marches in bad weather and sleeping in the open, according to a family history published online in 2005 by Barbara Ann Estabrook. He also described a scorched-earth campaign.
"i didnt have a chance to get a shot at a reb when we on the rode but i made the Cattle and Sheep and hogs suffer. You bet we killed every thing that we see and burnt every thing as we went," Albert Williams wrote on Dec. 18, 1864, less than four months before he died of fever at age 21.
Jewett Williams was married and divorced, then remarried and moved to Michigan, then to Minnesota where he was a carpenter. His first child died after only 19 months. He and his wife had five more children and moved to Washington state, where the couple separated. In the 1920 Census, Williams was listed as a widower in Portland, Ore.
In April 1922, Williams was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane in Salem, as the hospital was then known. He died on July 17, 1922, at 78, of cerebral arteriosclerosis.
None of Jewett's descendants have been found.
His remains are to arrive in Maine on Aug. 22 and will be buried with military honors in Togus National Cemetery on Sept. 17. A period-correct white marble veterans headstone will mark the spot, said Dave Richmond, deputy director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services.
"He will rejoin his comrades-in-arms in Maine," said Greg Roberts, the superintendent of Oregon State Hospital. Also buried at Togus are five other 20th Maine veterans, including one from Williams' Company H.
Transfer of civil war cremains being transfered from Ohio patriot guard to p.a patriot guard !
From The Washington post washingtonpost.com 08/09/16
Ashes of Civil War veteran taken on cross-country trip, including stops at Appomattox and Gettysburg
By Linda Wheeler August 9
In what must be one of the most unusual cross-country funeral entourages, the ashes of Civil War Veteran Jewett Williams left Oregon last month on a motorcycle relay organized by the Patriot Guard Riders and are expected to arrive in Williams’s home state of Maine on Aug. 22. Two Civil War stops, each with a memorial ceremony, have been added to the trip: Aug. 18 at Appomattox Court House and the next day in Gettysburg.
Those additional stops are appropriate, because Williams, a member of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, was present at the surrender at Appomattox Court House. However, he has been mistakenly identified as fighting with his regiment in Gettysburg. He did not. He joined the Union army in October 1864, more than a year after the Gettysburg battle. However, his regiment famously fought there at Little Round Top, and the memorial that stands at the site may be selected for the ceremony Aug. 19.
Williams was rescued from obscurity when more than 3,500 copper urns filled with the remains of men, women and children who had died at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem were discovered in a locked basement room in 2004. In recent years, researchers have been cross-checking the numbers on the urns against admission logs in hopes of identifying those who had died at the hospital and whose remains were never claimed. Williams was one of those identified.
The soldier ended up at the hospital after a long life. Records indicate that he became a carpenter, and in the 1880s was living in Brainerd, Minn. Like many other veterans, he moved often as the West became available for settlement, showing up in census records in the Washington territory as a married man with five children. In 1903, he appeared to be living alone in Portland, Ore. In 1922, he was admitted to Oregon’s state mental hospital for what was listed as senility. Three months later, he died at age 78.
Last year, Tom Desjardin, historian of the 20th Maine Regiment, was successful in convincing state officials that Williams’s ashes should be brought home for a proper burial. The Patriot Guard Riders volunteered to escort his remains.
From The Des Moines Register desmoinesregister.com 08/11/16
A big thanks to the Patriot Guard Riders
Mike Rowley, Clive, Letter to the Editor 12 a.m. CDT August 11, 2016
Just a note of thanks to the members of the Iowa Patriot Guard Riders. In just the last week we have seen them again quietly honoring veterans and their families with their dedication to duty.
On Aug. 5 they escorted the recently found remains of a Civil War soldier, Jewett Williams, across our entire state on his way to his home state of Maine. This week they brought honor and dignity to the final goodbye to West Des Moines Police Officer Shawn Miller and his family.
Thanks you for all you do.
— Mike Rowley, Clive
From the Bureau County Republican bcrnews.com 08/11/16
Bringing a Civil War soldier home
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016 2:28 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 8:16 a.m. CDT
The American Legion Honor Guard along with approximately 60 motorcycles with the Patriot Guard participated in a ceremony to help deliver the ashes of a Civil War soldier, Private Jewitt Williams, back to his home in Maine. The event took place Friday, Aug. 5. The trek began in the state of Oregon. The ultimate destination is at Togus in the state of Maine, where Williams will be buried next to his brother. The ashes have been transferred by the Patriot Guard. Each state captain has transferred the ashes to the next state captain. The procession stopped at the Road Ranger Truck Stop in Princeton on Friday. Williams fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. He was originally a member of the 20th Maine under the command of Joshua Chamberlain. After the war, he lived in Minnesota and Washington state before spending his final years in Salem, Ore. He died in 1922. He was cremated, and his ashes were stored away with 3,000 others.
From The Bangor Daily news bangordailynews.com 08/12/16
Civil War veteran from Hodgdon heads home for burial in Maine
August 12, 2016the Civil War during its sesquicentennial20th Maine Infantry Regiment, Hodgdon, Jewett Williams, Oregon, Togus, Tom Desjardins
By Brian Swartz
Cue When Johnny Comes Marching Home as Jewett Williams, a combat veteran from the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment, winds his way across country to a final resting place in the Pine Tree State.
Born in Hodgdon in 1843, Williams was 21 when he was drafted into the 20th Maine on Monday, Oct. 12, 1864. According to the federal census “enumerated” in Hodgdon on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 1850, the 7-year-old Jewett was the oldest child and son of Jared (36) and Rosaline (26) Williams, both born in New Brunswick. Jared was a yeoman farmer with real estate worth $400.
Behind Jewett in order of birth were Malvena, her age marked as “ditto” (implying she was 7, too); Melvin, 3, and Susan, apparently 7 months old. The census taker, an assistant marshal by the name of “Humphrey Chadbourne” (my best guess), needed a lesson in penmanship.
The next decade brought substantial changes to the household. Assistant Marshal Hugh Alexander enumerated the Williams clan for the next federal census on Sunday, June 10, 1860. Jared Williams, now 46, still farmed; his net worth was $1,000 for his real estate and $320 for his “personal estate.”
Rosaline, now 36, had produced more children and apparently lost at least one. The children in the household were Jewett, 17; Melvena (“Malvena” in 1850), 16; Roger N., 12; Eurana, 10; Eastman, 7; Mary, 5; William, 2; and Frank, 3 months.
Melvin vanished between 1850 and 1860, and 12-year-old Roger should have appeared on the 1850 census, but did not. The Susan of 1850 corresponded in age and gender with the Eurana of 1860; the “E” of Eurana is as clear as the “E” of Eastman, so Eurana the 1850 Susan must be.
The 1860 census described Jewett as a “Farmer,” and he probably preferred keeping that job even when notified that he would be drafted. Unlike many other Maine men preferring not to serve in the Army — and for whatever reasons they did so — Jewett did not “skedaddle” across the border into New Brunswick, safe from Uncle Sam’s lengthy reach.
Once sworn into active duty, Jewett was assigned to Co. H of the 20th Maine. No boot camp existed then; Williams shipped directly from Maine (probably Camp Berry in Cape Elizabeth) to the 20th Maine’s semi-permanent camp outside Petersburg.
There he met the scarred, flint-eyed veterans who wondered if the new guy had sufficient moxie to become one of them.
Jewett fought with the 20th Maine Infantry during the Appomattox Campaign and helped stop John B. Gordon’s hard-bitten veterans trying to shove west from Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Jewett likely witnessed the surrender of Confederate infantry a few days after Robert E. Lee surrendered his army.
Mustered out with the 20th Maine at Portland on July 16, 1865, Jewett went home and later married his first wife, Emma. After that marriage ended in divorce in 1871, Jewett moved to Minnesota.
There he married his second wife, Nora Casey; she bore him six children, and the family lived in Brainerd, Minn. Jewett may have suffered from PTSD, not accurately diagnosed in that era; he could not maintain a long-lasting relationship with women, not even with Nora, described as a “widow” in the 1892 St. Paul city directory.
Strangely she reconnected with the apparently “dead” Jewett and moved with him to Washington State in the early 1890s.
The 1900 census found Jewett self-employed as a carpenter; he also earned money by renting the available rooms in his house to boarders. Nora apparently lived 9 miles distant.
An Oregon resident by 1919, Jewett was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Ore. on Sunday, April 14, 1922. He died there of “cerebral arteriosclerosis” on Monday, July 17, 1922, with the time of death listed as “12309.”
His official death certificate described Jewett as a laborer, a widower, and a resident of Portland, Ore. He was cremated in the “Hoop Crematorium” on July 21. The death certificate was officially filed on July 22, 1922, as indicated by the date stamped on the certificate’s lower left corner.
Swept into a copper urn, his ashes wound up in a hospital shed, along with urns for almost another 3,500 people who died at the Oregon hospital. Hospital staffers discovered the approximately 3,500 urns after checking the locked shed in 2004. Many urns were decaying.
The cremains had gone unclaimed for decades. State officials have worked since then to find any survivors who might claim the cremains.
In 2015, Maine Civil War historian Tom Desjardins found the online records about Jewett’s 1922 death at the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. The discovery led to the efforts to bring Jewett home.
His ashes now in a ceramic urn, Jewett received a royal send-off at Salem on Monday morning, Aug. 1, 2016. He is bring transported across the country by volunteers from the Patriot Guard Riders; representatives from that organization are meeting Jewett at designated locations in each state and then transporting him to the appropriate location in the next state,
Jewett arrived in Pennsylvania earlier this week. From there the Patriot Guard Riders will take him to Appomattox Court House, from where Jewett will start the final leg of his journey to Maine.
He is scheduled to arrive at the Togus VA Hospital in Chelsea around 1 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22.
Jewett Williams will be buried in the National Cemetery at Togus on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Brian Swartz can be reached at email@example.com. He loves hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.
From the South Potomac Pilot dcmilitary.com 08/12/16
Dennis Markle: Along for the Final Ride
By Barbara Wagner South Potomac Pilot Aug 12, 2016
Like most heroes – unsung or not – Dennis Markle, a contractor with CACI Technologies Inc., would prefer not to have a spotlight on himself, but on those he serves through the Patriot Guard Riders(PGR).
Markle, nominated by his co-worker Kaylee Wichert, has worked within the Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren community since 1999 following his navy career of 23 years. Markle, a New Jersey native, joined the Navy in 1976 and was a Fire Control Technician (FT) with the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) program. For the last 15 years however, Markle has been a quality assurance specialist primarily providing verification and validation of the standard operating procedures prior to delivery to the US and UK fleets.
“I feel as though I am contributing to the continued success of the SLBM program,” Markle said.
It was in 2011, however, when Markle turned 55 that he purchased a Harley Davidson tricycle and he found a new calling.
“I hadn’t been on a bike in 30 years so I just drove it around on our property a little bit and I was thinking, ‘why did I buy this thing?’ It was like buying a boat, you know,” Markle laughed.
That was in February. Less than a month later at the invitation of a friend, Markle rode his first PGRmission and he knew why he had his new bike.
“My first mission was to Arlington Cemetery,” Markle shared. “When I heard them play ‘Taps,’ I knew why I bought that bike. I like a lot of things, but PGR is my passion.”
The PGR organization, a 501(c) 3 non-profit, was formed in 2005 in response to protests that were being conducted at the funeral services of American servicemembers. Forming a human barricade, the PGR blocked protesters, shielding the family members and mourners from the chanting by singing patriotic songs or revving their motorcycles engines.
Since then the organization has continued to provide a stalwartly presence at funeral services at the request of the families of fallen heroes nationwide.
According to the PGR mission statement, their objectives are twofold: to show their sincere respect for fallen heroes, their families and their community and to shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions from protestors.
In addition to the organization’s main objective to provide a presence at funerals, the PGR have expanded their mission providinga number of veteran-related services around the country.
The group has been called upon to provide Honor Missions for veterans’ remains, Honor Flights to welcome veterans visiting the national memorials in Washington D.C., to visit local Veteran’s Medical Centers and to provide Welcome Home and Deployment Sendoff missions for service members who are returning home or departing for a combat tour.
Markle, now a PGR ride captain, found his calling within the organization and has taken part in more than 480of these missions, including providing rides for injured and disabled veterans, escorting remains, delivering gifts for children at Christmas in July events at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, escorting 9/11 steel, supporting wreath laying ceremonies and providing a flag line at memorial services for veterans, including SEAL Team6 members.
All told, through the last five years Markle has logged more than 74,000 miles with the PGR.
There are some missions, however, that take more than the physical toll of riding many miles through all sorts of weather. Some missions are deeply touching. For Markle, one of these particular missions involved an Army veteran who lost his life in a home fire.
“He and his wife had jumped from a second story window. They had two young daughters who were still in the house and he ran back in,” Markle explained somberly. “The firemen found them huddledin a corner.”
Used to escorting remains and cremains of service members, Markle had been involved in many funeral services.
“I was the ride captain for this one,” Markle said. “When I saw them bring out two little pink coffins…”
This particular escort was particularly challenging for Markle, who still has difficulty speaking about it years later.
PGR was invited to participate in the escort for 17 SEALs who perished when a Chinook helicopter, call sign“Extortion 17,” was shot down in 2011 in Afghanistan during combat operations. The incident resulted in the highest number of combat losses in a single day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
“I had never seen so many coffins and flags,” Markle remembered.
Markle is quick to add that there is a balance between the funeral missions and the other missions, and that as a ride captain, he wants to make sure his riders understand that you do share the pain and grief with the families that they assist.
“You just don’t keep it,”Markle explained. “You have to find a way to release it. It can build up.”
One of the other missions that PGR assists with is the Missing in America Project (MIAP). The organization’s purpose is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans. MIAP’s mission ties in with PGR in that they seek to provide honor and respect to those who have served by securing a final resting place for these often-forgotten heroes. PGR members provide transportation or escort for those remains.
On Aug. 18, Markle will once again ride but this time will assist MIAP by taking part in a transportation train escorting the remains of Jewett Williams, a Civil War-era soldier who passed away in 1922 at the Oregon State Hospital. Williams’ remainswere unclaimed until 2014, when through the MIAP project he was identified as a member of the 20th Maine Regiment. A proposal was made to transport Williams’ remains back to his home stateand PGR members nationwide stepped forward to assist. The remains will travel through 19 states and cover more than 3,200 miles. Markle will be transporting from just outside of West Virginia and ending in Appomattox.
It’s easy to see that Markle is very dedicated to his role as a ride captain with the Virginia PGR and according to Wichert, he applies that same level of dedication to everything that he does.
“Dennis is the most selfless person I have ever met in my life. He served in the military and continues to serve his country with the PGR,” Wichert shared. “He will work midnight shifts so that he is able to be there for these guys. It’s really inspiring when you work here to see someone so committed to our mission. He’s like that in all aspects of his life. He is really the epitome of the unsung hero and of what we do. He’s one of my role models and I really wanted to recognize him.”
Wichert shared other stories as well about Markle’s humble nature and concluded the conversation by adding how she wished more people were like Dennis.
“I try to be more like Dennis,” Wichert laughed.
Markle and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 35 years and Markle noted that she has ridden with him on about 75-percent of the PGR missions he has been a part of. When he is not participating with the PGR, Markle enjoys playing golf on an intermural team on the Dahlgren Golf League.
“Semper Gumby,” which means “always flexible” in Navy and Marine Corps slang, is Markle’s favorite quote.
“It’s an unofficial motto we’ve adopted as the PGRs because our missions have a tendency to change without notice,” Markle said. “This motto can also be adapted to any aspect of life. I write my life plan in pencil because God has the eraser.”
If you are interested in learning more about the PGR and how you can participate, Markle emphasized that owning or riding a bike aren’t a requirement, just a desire to demonstrate respect for the fallen. PGR not only provides services for veterans, but for first responders as well. For more information please visit www.patriotguard.org or for the Virginia riders visit www.virginiapatriotguard.org.
From The Washington Post washingtonpost.com
Appomattox to honor Civil War soldier whose remains are en route to Maine
By Linda Wheeler August 16
Pvt. Jewett Williams, whose ashes were discovered in the basement of the Oregon State Hospital, is heading home to Maine via a motorcycle relay organized by the Patriot Guards. His cortege is scheduled to make a stop at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Va., on Thursday for a 1 p.m. ceremony honoring the soldier for his military service.
Williams, a member of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, was present at Appomattox for Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Gen. Ulysses Grant on April 12, 1865.
According to spokesman Ernie Price, the ceremony is to take place on Stage Road at the same location where the 20th Maine would have been positioned during the Stacking of the Arms Ceremony in 1865. The event is free and open to the public.
Last week, the itinerary had included a similar stop at Gettysburg National Military Park where the 20th Maine fought in July 1863, although Williams was not in the service at that time. According to an email from spokeswoman Katie Lawhon, “my understanding of the Jewett Williams’ guard event … is they will not be doing anything within the [park].”
When asked what had happened to change the earlier plan, she said, “I’m still not exactly sure but I can guarantee we did not turn them down.”
She said the entourage was to meet the next team at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg. Hotel and restaurant parking lots have been the usual meeting places for the relay teams.
The Williams escort is expected to reach Maine on Aug. 22. He is to be buried with full military honors on Sept. 17 at Togus National Cemetery.
The Morgan Messenger morganmessenger.com 08/17/16
Civil War soldier’s remains carried through Hancock on journey home to Maine
by Kate Shunney & Geoff Fox
Jewett Williams’ 3,200-mile journey from Portland, Oregon home to Chelsea, Maine will take longer than most trans-continental trips. It could be done on an airplane in a matter of hours. But special circumstances have meant his journey is both slower and more ceremonial.
The cremated remains of Civil War soldier Private Jewett Williams made it, last Sunday, to Hancock.
Volunteers with the Patriot Guard Riders met at the Super 8 Motel parking lot in the bright hot sun on Sunday morning to be part of the chain of honor carrying Pvt. Williams home to Maine.
Motorcycle riders from Pennsylvania delivered the cremains from their last stop in Gettysburg, and handed them over, in a solemn, flagfilled ceremony, to riders from Maryland.
Those Maryland riders were set to deliver Williams to Point of Rocks, where he would head south to Appomattox, Va. Along the journey east, the soldier’s cremains have been taken to some of the most significant battlefields of the Civil War.
He will be delivered, ultimately, to the Togus National Cemetery and buried with fellow Civil War soldiers. An internment ceremony is planned for September 17, and will coincide with 150th anniversary events at the VA cemetery.
Private Williams’ remains had been lingering on a shelf in Oregon since he was cremated in July 1922.
Williams passed away on July 17, 1922 at the age of 78 in the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. Long before he passed away, Williams was part of American history.
Williams was born in May of 1844 in Maine. Twenty years later, on October 12, 1864, he enlisted in Company H of the now famous 20th Maine Infantry Regiment. The 20th Maine gained fame during the Civil War thanks to Union Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. By the time Williams had joined the ranks, Chamberlain had been given command of a brigade in the Fifth Corps.
Williams’ regiment was at the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia, and in battles with Confederates until April 1865 when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
According to the Pennsylvania Chapter of Patriot Guard, Williams shared a tent with his cousin, Albert Williams, who described, in a letter reflecting his rudimentary education, long marches in bad weather and sleeping in the open conditions. He also described a scorched-earth campaign.
Williams was mustered out of the military on July 16, 1865.
During his post-Civil war life, Williams was married twice; lived in Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington, and finally in Oregon; fathered six children, one of whom died of scarlet fever at 19 months old.
On April 14, 1922, Williams was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane with senility as “reason for insanity.” He died there three months later.
When Williams died, his body was cremated and forgotten about. According to a Portland Press Herald article from July 30, the remains were put on a shelf, waiting for family to pick them up, which never happened.
An effort by a Maine historian revealed that Williams’ cremains had been unclaimed, and a plan was devised to return him to his home state. He left Oregon on August 1 and is expected to arrive in Maine on August 22.
Patriot Guard Riders
The Patriot Guard Riders, a national volunteer group of bikers who help honor fallen soldiers, have carried those cremains through state after state, handing over not only a flag-wrapped wooden box containing his urn, but also a folded flag and Williams’ birth certificate and photo.
In Hancock, it was Aaron Zeff of Avella, Pa. who handed Williams’ cremains to Michael Buck of Urbana, Md. Both men were flanked by Patriot Guard Riders from their respective states. A Civil War drum, played by drummer Jim Smith, led the Pennsylvania procession through a column of silent flag-bearers as Ray Zimmerman bugled “Taps.” After a brief statement, Zeff passed his parcel to Buck as the other riders saluted.
It’s the same ceremony that has happened and will happen along Williams’ trip home.
Pennsylvania State Captain Douglas “Doc” Kimbell said he has coordinated many Patriot Guard Riders events, but this is a first.
“This one’s unique – very unique,” he said, noting it is the first time his riders have carried Civil War cremains.
“There are a lot of veterans out there, veterans without families. They all deserve to be honored,” said Kimbell.
Following the ceremony, drummer Jim Smith said his instrument was a contemporary of Williams, and had been played for five years during the Civil War.
“If Private Williams had been at Gettysburg, he would have heard this drum,” he said.
From The Republican masslive.com 08/18/19
Cross-country motorcade honoring Civil War veteran to stop in South Hadley
By Jim Russell | Special to The Republican
on August 18, 2016 at 6:49 AM
SOUTH HADLEY — Civil War veteran Pvt. Jewett Williams died in 1922, but his cremated remains — recently discovered in the basement of a closed Oregon state hospital — are finally getting a proper burial.
A cross-country motorcade that began in Oregon on Aug. 1 will conclude in Williams' home state of Maine next month, when he will be interred with full military honors. Along the way, the motorcade will stop in South Hadley.
There will be a commemoration Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Civil War monument on the Village Common. It will include the Patriot Guard motorcycle group, a 21-gun salute, Civil War re-enactors and other military color guards, according to Town Manager Mike Sullivan.
Williams was born in Maine in 1844. A copy of his death certificate posted on findagrave.com shows he died on July 17, 1922. Documents show his first name was spelled as Jewitt and as Jewett.
Williams will be buried with full military honors Sept. 17, 2016, at the Togus National Cemetery in Maine. According to PatriotGuard.org, "The Togus cemetery is among the nation's oldest national veteran's cemeteries (1866), and has been closed to burials for many years. The VA has granted special permission to open the cemetery, so he can be interred with his Civil War brothers in arms."
The website says Williams enlisted in Company H of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1864.
From The News & Advance newsadvance.com 08/18/16:
A Civil War veteran's journey home
Union soldier’s remains escorted through Appomattox on way to final resting place
Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2016 7:15 pm
APPOMATTOX — A little more than 151 years ago, U.S. Pvt. Jewett Williams stood with fellow soldiers in the 20th Maine Infantry and watched as Confederate soldiers stacked their muskets, ammunition bags and flags in neat rows in Appomattox Court House.
Thursday afternoon, Williams was the focus of an observance on the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road in Appomattox, his flag-draped remains on a final journey home to Maine.
Williams died in 1922 in what was then called the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane in Salem, Oregon. His unclaimed ashes were discovered in a copper can about 10 years ago in a shed on the hospital’s property.
Maine Historian Tom Desjardin was researching the fate of the 20th Maine veterans for a book when he discovered the cremated remains, based on online records of the former Oregon State Hospital.
In 2015, with permission from the Maine Adjutant General, Desjardin received permission to have Williams’ ashes brought back to his home state.
On Aug. 1, his ashes began their long journey across 19 states escorted by the Patriot Guard, a motorcycle group that honors U.S. military veterans, living and dead.
Just before noon Thursday, in Madison Heights, Virginia Patriot Guard District 7 transferred Williams’ remains to local chapter District 3, en route to Appomattox.
“This is what we do, we give honor to all veterans, past and present. This one just happened to be 151 years removed,” said James Robinson, District 7 Patriot Guard assistant state captain.
He added it’s a great honor for the guard to do this “type of Pony Express mission.”
Dozens of Patriot Guard districts were tasked with escorting the ashes from state line to state line.
“We are out there guarding patriots. We are out there for our brothers and sisters, letting them know someone cares,” he said.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park Superintendent Robin Snyder said workers there put together Thursday’s ceremony honoring Williams in about two weeks.
“It’s a completely unique story … when are we going to do this again?” Snyder said.
Dozens of park visitors, veterans past and present and local historians came to Appomattox to honor the Civil War veteran.
Like many veterans on hand for the surrender, Appomattox was the last time Williams was involved in the Civil War, said Christabell “Miss Rose” Rose, director of the Maine Living History Association, who was on hand for Thursday’s event.
She said they got permission to have him buried in the Togus National Cemetery in Maine, home to the first branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers created as the Civil War was coming to a close.
Rose was in the process of planning for Togus’ 150th anniversary last year, when news of Williams’ ashes arrived.
“In my heart, it was something important … let’s share him with the world. This is why we do what we do because they did what they did,” she said.
At the time of the surrender at Appomattox Court House, Williams was only 21 years old. After the war, he went home to Maine and then bounced across several states, eventually settling in the Pacific Northwest.
Rose said he most likely suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, an unknown mental health condition in the Civil War era.
In 1922, he was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital for senility and died three months later.
Williams’ ashes will go onto to Gettysburg Friday and arrive in Maine by Monday.
From the Culpeper Star-Exponent dailyprogress.com 08/18/16
'It’s an honor': Civil War veteran's ashes stop in Culpeper en route to Maine
By Allison Brophy Champion Aug 18, 2016
Two dozen motorcyclists, most of them veterans, ventured into the heart of former Confederate country Thursday morning joining the mission to bring home the ashes of a long-forgotten Union soldier.
The remains of Jewett Williams, a private with the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry, rested at Culpeper National Cemetery for a few days this week, transported here from Maryland, as the next leg of his coast-to-coast journey resumed under the careful watch of the Virginia Patriot Guard Riders.
Born in 1844 in Maine, Williams died in 1922 in an Oregon mental hospital, where his ashes were placed in an urn, stashed away and lost to memory until recently.
Williams fought for the Union near the end of the Civil War, seeing action at Petersburg, and other battles, and was present when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
He apparently died alone years later with no family to claim his ashes.
An Oregon researcher stumbled across Williams’ story last year, putting in motion a national effort to return the soldier to the Togus National Cemetery in Maine where he will rest beside his fellow soldiers. His journey home began earlier this month, resumed Thursday from Culpeper and is expected to end Aug. 22.
Madison County resident James Robinson easily joined the effort being led by various state chapters of the Patriot Guard Riders whose members attend the funerals of fallen soldiers and first responders.
“There’s a saying that goes, ‘A country that fails to honor their defenders will cease to exist,’ and I believe that,” said Robinson, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served during the Vietnam era. “We are doing our part. We are just trying to keep the candle lit.”
Mike Edgecomb, state captain of the Maine Patriot Guard Riders, drove to Culpeper Wednesday to join the traveling contingent en route to a ceremony in Appomattox later on Thursday.
“When they found Jewett Williams, they were just going to mail him cross-country to Maine so I volunteered the National Patriot Guard to bring him across,” said Edgecomb, a U.S. Navy veteran. “That’s what we do every day. It’s an honor for us to recognize any veteran’s service.”
Arriving at Culpeper National Cemetery around 7:30 a.m., the group posed for pictures in front of the Maine Monument, erected in the early 1900s in honor of the 22 men from the 10th Maine Volunteer Infantry who died at the 1862 Battle of Cedar Mountain in Culpeper County.
The long trip transporting Williams to his native state is all about honor, duty and respect, said Karen Durham-Aguilera, of Arlington, a member of the Virginia Patriot Guard Riders.
“Today, we’re part of history,” she said. “This shows you that it’s never too late to honor veterans in service to this nation. To be part of a group that gets Pvt. Williams all the way back to Maine it just gives you chills.”
No one in the group talked about Union versus Confederacy in the most-marched upon county of the entire Civil War where the Union Army regularly camped and battles waged on a near constant basis.
“We’re about honoring American veterans,” said Durham-Aguilera, an Army engineer. “We’re helping get a veteran to his true final resting place.”
That means everything, added Gary Ray Brinston, of King George, assistant state captain with the Virginia Patriot Guard Riders.
“We always say it’s an honor at any mission we do,” he said of the phrase oft-repeated among the motorcyclists. “It’s something you hold in your heart, something that you’re proud to do.”
Brinston, who now works for the Navy, rearranged his schedule so he could be part of the state contingent transporting the Civil War veteran.
“This is historic,” he said. “Every mission has the same honor — a veteran is a veteran is a veteran. Pvt. Williams served his country before all of us.”
Inside the administration building at Culpeper National Cemetery, Robinson gave instructions about the dignified transfer of the ashes upon arrival at the next stop, continuing the coast-to-coast relay. The riders lined up outside the front door to salute as Williams’ flag-draped remains were ceremoniously carried and secured on the back of a Harley for the next leg of the journey.
A muggy morning, gray clouds appeared to touch the tops of the neat rows of headstones presenting a vibrant reminder of the sacrifice of an American military.
“We don’t get paid for this, but it sure is rewarding,” said Robinson. “This is where the new meets the old and the old returns home.”
Roland Lataille, of Bristow, said being part of the transport was the right thing to do.
“It’s our honor to hold, to be with the remains of a patriot,” he said. “There’s just no other way to say it. He was a patriot.”
Jewett was the oldest son of Jared Williams and Rosaline Jackins, natives of New Brunswick, Canada, according to Oregon-based genealogist Phyllis Zegers. He had at least eight siblings and grew up in Hodgdon, Maine, near the Canadian border, where his parents were farmers.
After his time in the Civil War, Jewett Williams married and divorced and then married again, moving ever west. A son of his died as a baby of scarlet fever, though he fathered at least five other children.
Jewett had moved to Washington State by 1892, and was working as a laborer, according to Zeger, and later as a carpenter. His wife did not live with him. In the 19-teens, Jewett was among Civil War veterans who spoke at local schools in the Portland area, according to newspaper accounts.
He worked as a common laborer at the age of 75.
On April 14, 1922, Williams was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane; the “reason for insanity” was listed as senility. He died there three months later.
It is not known what became of Jewett’s wife and family, and he has no known relatives.
Now, he’s almost home. An interment ceremony in Maine, complete with a Civil War-era color guard, is planned for Sept. 17.
From ABC 13 WSET wset.com 08/18/16:
The long journey home: fellow vets escort Civil War solider remains cross country
BY ELIZABETH TYREE & SURI CROWE THURSDAY, AUGUST 18TH 2016
APPOMATTOX, Va. (WSET) - On October 21, 1864, a 21-year-old soldier got drafted into the US Army in Bangor, Maine.
Now more than a century later his remains, that were just discovered, are being escorted across the country back to his home.
Private Jewett Williams was in Appomattox for the end of the Civil War, but he never got a proper military burial. In fact his life was quite tragic. But, now members of the patriot guard have made it their personal mission to bring him the honor they say every fallen soldier deserves.
Not much is known about Williams, but historians who researched his life, say he died alone and suffering from serious illness. So, the Guard says not only is it an honor, but a privilege to finally bring him home.
The Patriot Guard is escorting his remains 3,000 miles from Oregon where Jewett died in a hospital for the insane to his home in Maine. Thursday, they were in Appomattox for a ceremony.
View image on Twitter
"There's nothing better that we could do honor fallen heroes and even if it was from 1922 when he passed," said Patriot Guard member, Greg Cissell.
Williams was serving the Union army in Appomattox when the war ended. The Guard says the ceremony held at the Courthouse is an important stop on his journey.
Following the war, Williams drifted West suffering with war related ailments. He died in 1922 without fanfare. Williams was father to five children and died a widower. But nothing is known about his descendants.
These brothers in arms say every soldier deserves recognition, even if it's nearly a century in the making. "It's a deep honor. It's a privilege," said Patriot Guard member, Jim Robinson.
From the ceremony in Appomattox Guard members are heading to Gettysburg and Williams will finally be laid to rest at the Togus National Cemetery in Maine near five of his comrades from Company H.
From Brattleboro Reformer reformer.com 08/19/16:
Vermont Patriot Guard Riders participate in cross country honor mission
Cross country trip from Oregon to Maine
Special to the Reformer
POSTED: 08/19/2016 08:48:28 PM EDT
BRATTLEBORO >> The Patriot Guard Riders have been transporting the cremains of Jewett Williams, USA, Civil War Veteran on a journey from Oregon to Maine since Aug. 1, Mr. Williams will arrive in Maine on Sunday, and will be buried at Togus National Cemetery on Sept. 17 with full Military Honors.
On Oct. 12, 1864, Jewett enlisted in Company H of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, led by Col. Joshua Chamberlain and Maj. Ellis Spear.
Jewett's regiment participated in several decisive actions that helped secure the Union victory during the later stages of the war, including the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, Battle of Hatcher's Run, Battle of White Oak Road and Battle of Five Forks. The 20th Maine was part of the Union force that accepted Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Following Lee's surrender, Jewett and his company marched to Washington, D.C., where they underwent a "grand review" and were mustered out on July 16.
In 1914, 1915 and 1919, Jewett was among the Civil War veterans to speak at Portland-area public schools for Memorial Day events. At the time of the 1920 census, he was listed as a widower in Portland, or living at 53 Seventh St. near Davis. He worked as a "common laborer" at the age of 75. He died on July 17, of arterial sclerosis. He was 78 years old.
It is not known what became of Jewett's wife and family, but his remains were never claimed and he has no known relatives still living.
Now, after nearly a hundred years in the custody of the Oregon State Hospital, Jewett Williams is going home on Saturday and Sunday.
Today a few designated Vermont Patriot Guard Riders will stage in the car lot at the Guilford Welcome Center on Interstate 91 North south of Exit 1 for Brattleboro. At approximately 6 p.m. a motorcycle escort will arrive from the state of Massachusetts. The Brattleboro Police Department will escort all, via the Interstate, to the American Legion Post #5 at 32 Linden St., Brattleboro. Tall flags can be flown on your motorcycle. Police escort will be via the Interstate; however, traveling speed will factor in tall flags. Keep in mind Vermont has a mandatory DOT helmet law. At least two vehicles will be in the escort at this point. One is representing Wreaths Across America and the other is the Maine Living History Foundation.
Commander Dan Chotain has arranged for the American Legion Post #5 Honor Guard to be present. The Vermont Patriot Guard Riders will also be present, with a flag line in place, awaiting the approximate 6:15 p.m. arrival of the motorcycle escort. Vermont Patriot Guard Riders, Assistant State Captain, Gary Herbert will have the honor of removing our hero from the motorcycle/vehicle and carrying him into the American Legion Post #5. A Vermont Patriot Guard Riders member will lead with the US flag that has accompanied Jewett Williams cross country.
On Sunday rally back at the American Legion Post #5 and stage at 7 a.m., a safety briefing will be held at 7:15 a.m. At 7:30 a.m. Jewett Williams and the US flag will be provided a dignified transfer out of the American Legion Post #5 and placed with the rider who is traveling beyond the state of New Hampshire at 7:45 a.m. Be gassed up and prepared to travel via Route 9 across into the state of New Hampshire. The Brattleboro Police Department will be providing the escort to the Vermont/New Hampshire State borders. Travel Route 9 to Keene, N.H. with arrival time confirmed at 8:30 a.m. at 481 West St., West Street Shopping Center. The New Hampshire State Police will provide an escort from the VT/NH border to the rendezvous with the New Hampshire Patriot Guard Riders (NHPGR). The speed will be held down to 45 to 50 mph for those who want to fly their tall flags.
On Sunday,a dignified transfer of our hero at the direction of the NHPGR at 8:30 a.m. at 481 West St., West Street Shopping Center, Keene, N.H.
The public is invited to attend any or all of the transports.
From Harrisburg PA - WHTM ABC 27 abc27.com 08/19/16:
Civil War soldier passes through Gettysburg on way to Maine burial
By Dennis Owens
Published: August 19, 2016, 6:24 pm
GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Stars and stripes.
They are common scenes in Gettysburg.
But the historic little borough in Adams County never saw anything quite like the motorcycle procession that rolled through Friday morning.
“We knew there were people in the area that might want to come out and pay respects,” said Tom Dejardins, a historian from Maine who helped make the event possible.
Respects were paid to Jewett Williams, a Civil War private in the 20th Maine.Jewett joined the 20th Maine after Gettysburg. He was there when Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.
After the war, Jewett migrated west. He died, alone, in Oregon in 1922 and was cremated. Unclaimed, his ashes sat in a can, on a shelf, at a state hospital for 94 years.
Until Desjardins, who specializes in 20th Maine research, tracked him down.
“His name was unusual enough that if you Google it, it shows up somewhere. It showed up in the records of the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. Jewett was actually senile and spent the last three months of his life in the hospital.
Insane, some thought, is what happened next. Maine’s Patriot Guard Riders offered to escort Jewett home, by motorcycle, from Oregon to Maine. The three-week journey covered 19 states and 3,500 miles, including Friday’s stop in Gettysburg. It’s been a procession of flags, fellowship, and farewell.
“We do this every day,” said Mike Edgecomb, the state captain for Maine’s Patriot Guard Riders. “The Patriot Guard does missions every day. We don’t do cross-country missions but we have done several multi-state missions. This is the first coast-to-coast that I’m aware of.”
Miss Rose, as she wants to be called, is a living historian from Maine who is accompanying Jewett on the trip. She dresses in period costume and speaks during the short services at each stop. She admits she was skeptical at first about the appropriateness of a motorcycle escort for a Civil War soldier.
She now fills with emotion when discussing the commitment of her biker brethren.
“I’m gonna get shaky,” Miss Rose said to the assembled crowd when describing the journey and the Patriot Guard Riders. “Thank you for taking care of our son of Maine and letting him know he’s not forgotten. That we’re bringing him home and we’re gonna honor him the way he should be.”
Jewett still has miles to go before he sleeps. Literally.
His remains are in a box that’s snapped into a container on the back of one motorcycle. He headed from Gettysburg to Connecticut Friday.
He’ll cross into Maine by Sunday.
He’ll have a funeral with full military honors September 17 in his native state.
“We’re gonna have the last funeral ever for a member of the 20th Maine,” Desjardin said. “Which is really, really special and not something you get to see in your lifetime.”
From the Culpeper Star-Exponent dailyprogress.com 08/20/16:
EDITORIAL: An overdue journey for a Civil War veteran
Aug 20, 2016
Culpeper National Cemetery briefly, and with due reverence, hosted the boxed ashes of a Civil War veteran this week.
Escorted by the Virginia Patriot Guard Riders, the remains of Jewett Williams, a private with the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry, have slowly been making their way across the country home to Maine for interment.
Williams served in the Union army and fought in eight battles, according to historical records, including at Petersburg. He was present at Appomattox for the surrender of the Confederacy. In his later years, he worked as a laborer. He died in obscurity in 1922 in an Oregon mental hospital (likely suffering from dementia) with no family members to claim his body. He was cremated and his ashes were stored far from home and forgotten.
Until last year.
A Maine historian stumbled across Williams’ story; when his remains were located (they had been stored among almost 3,500 unclaimed urns in a shed at the sanitarium), plans were made to mail them to Maine. That’s when the Maine Patriot Guard Riders, along with other states’ Patriot Guard Rider chapters, stepped in to offer a more honor-filled journey east for the war veteran.
The coordination required by these groups to bring Williams, by motorcycle relay, across the county speaks to the members’ dedication to our nation’s service men and women.
In Culpeper, escorts of the Virginia chapter paused to visit the Maine Monument at the cemetery. The memorial there was placed in the early 1900s to honor the 22 men from the 10th Maine Volunteer Infantry who died at the 1862 Battle of Cedar Mountain in Culpeper County. Williams’ remains continued on to Appomattox for a ceremony Thursday before turning north to Maine.
The men and women transporting Williams all shared similar sentiments—a veteran is a veteran and time elapsed doesn’t diminish the need to provide appropriate honors.
Offering that kind of respect becomes its own reward.
Culpeper’s participation in Williams’ journey doesn’t come as a surprise—nine separate Civil War engagements took place within its boundaries and the community has a long, proud history of honoring Civil War veterans from both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.
Now, Williams is almost home.
When the riders arrive in Chelsea, Maine, the private will finally have a fitting eternal resting place beside his fellow soldiers at Togas National Cemetery. A ceremony, complete with a Civil War-era color guard, is planned for Sept. 17.
From Manchester, New Hampshire WMUR 9 ABC - wmur.com 08/21/16:
Remains of Civil War veteran returned home
Transported from Oregon to Maine
Published 7:06 PM EDT Aug 21, 2016
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. —The remains of a Civil War veteran passed through New Hampshire Sunday as he made his final trip home to Maine.
Pvt. Jewett Williams was part of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
His remains had been at the Oregon State Hospital since 1922 when he passed away at the age of 78.
His family never claimed his body and now he has no known relatives.
Williams' remains were taken across the country by the Patriot Guard Riders. The journey began Aug. 1 and ended on Sunday after crossing 19 states to get to Maine.
"As a fellow veteran I believe we have to pay respect to all of our veterans, past, present or future and this is my way of giving back to them," said David Lange.
Lange was among a group riding with the Patriot Guard Riders.
"The Patriot Guard Riders have essentially set up a modern-day pony express to get him from Oregon back to Maine," said Nick Marks, the Ride Captain.
Marks, also a veteran, walked the remains across the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth to the John Paul Jones park in Kittery. Dozens gathered there for a ceremony.
"Each of the New England states have held tributes, they have been tremendous," Maine historian Tom Desjardin said. "Firefighters on overpasses in new Jersey, New Hampshire, and Maine, there has really been an outpouring of interest."
Desjardin was the one who discovered where Williams' remains were being stored after doing some research.
"I found it and I saw the adjutant general, the head of veteran services, at a meeting and I said, 'I found this guy in Oregon' and they said 'Let's bring him home,'" Desjardin said. "And then when the Patriot Guard Riders got involved it became this super story and effort."
He said Williams was drafted in 1864 and served for the last six months of the Civil War.
"He saw a number of battles of combat and he was there at the end," Desjardin said. "He was present at Appomattox when his commanding officer, Joshua Chamberlain, accepted the formal surrender of the Confederate army."
The funeral for Williams brings closure to the story of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
"The great thing is we are about to take part in and plan for the last funeral ever of the 20th Maine, which is an unusual thing, the last funeral was in 1935," Desjardin said.
Williams will be buried in the Togas National Cemetery in Maine on Sept. 17.
From WMTW ABC 8 wmtw.com 08/21/16:
Maine Civil War veteran returns home after 94 years
Pvt. Jewett Williams part of 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
UPDATED 8:18 PM EDT Aug 21, 2016
KITTERY, Maine —Pvt. Jewett Williams fought for Maine in the Civil War, but his remains never made it home, until Sunday.
Williams was part of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
His remains had been at the Oregon State Hospital since 1922 when he passed away at the age of 78. His family never claimed his body and now he has no known relatives.
"This was 94 years that he sat there. Nobody had found him. Nobody had claimed him. It's very unusual," said Christabell Rose, of the Maine Living History Association. "It very well could be the last 20th Maine Civil War soldier that's never been buried. This man has never had a funeral before."
Williams' remains were discovered at the hospital as it was undergoing a renovation, Rose said.
The remains were taken across the country by the Patriot Guard Riders. The journey began Aug. 1 and ended on Sunday after crossing 19 states to get to Maine.
Patriot Guard Riders walked the remains across the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth to the John Paul Jones park in Kittery. Dozens gathered there for a ceremony.
Williams will be buried in the Togas National Cemetery in Maine on Sept. 17.
From Portland, maine WCSH NBC 6 wcsh6.com
94 years after his death, Civil War veteran returns to Maine
NEWS CENTER and Kristina Rex, WCSH 12:21 AM. EST August 22, 2016
KITTERY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — It was a historic journey from Oregon to Maine. Ninety-four years after his death, a Civil War veteran made his way home to Maine.
Private Jewett Williams of Hodgdon was a member of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He fought in combat for the last six months of the Civil War. Most notably, he was there for the Confederate surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.
"He fought for his native state. He was from Maine. And our choices were really on a shelf in a shed in a hospital in Oregon, or bring him home where the adjunct general could have a full ceremony with military honors, and the treatment it would have been nice if he had when he died in 1922," said historian Tom Desjardin.
Tom Desjardin spends his time researching the 20th Maine. He discovered Williams' story two years ago.
After the war and multiple marriages and children, Williams died at the age of 78 at an Oregon mental institution.
Desjardins planned to personally bring Williams' ashes home. But when the Patriot Guard Riders heard the story, they had to be a part of it.
"It is history because it's most likely the last Civil War veteran that will ever be buried in the nation," said Mike Edgecomb of the Patriot Guard Riders.
Records show that Williams' has no surviving direct descendants. On Sept. 17, the 150th anniversary of Togus, Williams will receive his proper burial.
Copyright 2016 WCSH
From the Bangor Daily News bangordailynews.com 08/22/16:
Burial of returned Civil War vet Jewett Williams will shift from Togus to Hodgdon
August 22 - By Brian Swartz
Apparently abandoned by his immediate family after his death in 1922, Maine Civil War veteran Jewett Williams has been commandeered by distant relatives prior to his burial in 2016 …
… and the volunteers responsible for respectfully transporting his cremains from Oregon to Maine are unhappy about the bombshell dropped during today’s ceremony honoring Jewett’s arrival at the Togus VA Hospital in Chelsea.
Jewett was the oldest son and child of Hodgdon farmers Jared and Rosaline Williams. Born in Hodgdon in 1843, he was 21 when he was simultaneously drafted and mustered into the army — Co. H, 20th Maine Infantry Regiment — on Monday, Oct. 12, 1864.
A scrawny fellow standing 5-6½ inches tall with a farmer’s lean, muscular frame, Jewett gazed at the world through hazel eyes. He had dark hair and sported a dark complexion.
He participated in the Appomattox Campaign, mustered out with the 20th Maine, and returned to Hodgdon in summer 1865. After his first marriage ended in divorce in 1871, Jewett voted with his feet to leave Maine; moving to Minnesota, he later married a woman who bore him six children.
Jewett and his wife, Nora, lived in Washington State by the early 1890s, and he later moved to Portland, Oregon. Admitted to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem in April 1922, he died there of “cerebral arteriosclerosis” on Monday, July 17, 1922.
No relatives claimed the body, which was cremated. The ashes went into a copper urn forgotten until discovered along with approximately 3,500 other cremain-filled urns at the Salem hospital in 2004.
In 2015, Maine Civil War historian Tom Desjardins found the online records about Jewett’s 1922 death at the Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. The discovery led to the efforts to bring Jewett home.
Starting at Salem on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, volunteers from the Patriot Guard Riders escorted Jewett’s cremains across country to Maine. The goal, as understood by everyone involved with the project, was to deliver Jewett to Maine for burial in the Togus National Cemetery in Chelsea on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Seven members of the Maine Patriot Guard Riders — President Mike Edgecomb of Spruce Head, Cathy Fiske and Steve Littlefield of Topsham, Robert LaBrie of Bangor, Don Duplessis of Augusta, Edgar “Skip” Hanes of Hartford, and Will Lagasse of Greene — met at the south-bound Kennebunk Travel Plaza on the Maine Turnpike on Tuesday, Aug. 16 and rode south together to “meet” Jewett at Appomattox Court House National Historic Park.
These seven Mainers and other Patriot Guard Riders escorted Jewett home through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
At 1 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22, some 40-50 motorcyclists and several escort vehicles turned from Route 17 onto Togus Road and rode to the Togus VA Hospital in Chelsea. Parking their bikes on Pond Road in front of the VA medical center, the Patriot Guard Riders participated in the moving ceremony that officially returned Jewett’s cremains to the possession of his home state.
Togus personnel, Maine National Guard personnel, Civil War re-enactors, and employees of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans & Emergency Management also took part in the ceremony, held on the lawn opposite the VA medical center’s main entrance. Including participants, around 200 people gathered to watch as Mike Edgecomb placed the American flag-wrapped box containing Jewett’s cremains on a table set up on the lawn.
Adria O. Horn, the director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, spoke about Jewett and the collaborative efforts that had brought him home to Maine. Among the people watching the ceremony was Brig. Gen. Doug Farnham, the adjutant general of the Maine National Guard.
Everything went well until Horn revealed that rather than Jewett being buried with the other Civil War veterans at Togus as planned, “family and descendants” in Aroostook County wanted him to be buried “with his parents, Jared and Rosaline Williams,” in the family’s plot in a Hodgdon cemetery.
The state has concurred with that request.
Jewett’s cremains will be transferred to the Williams’ distant relatives at Togus on Sept. 17. Until then, the cremains will be housed at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta.
Horn’s announcement visibly stunned many listening Patriot Guard Riders, who had believed since Aug. 1 that, as Bob LaBrie of Bangor explained, “He (Jewett Williams) was going to be buried with the 20th Maine boys here at Togus.
“I think it’s terrible,” LaBrie said, referring to Jewett being buried in Hodgdon rather than at Togus.
An Oregon researcher could find no living direct descendants of Jewett Williams. During today’s ceremony, no other descendants of Jared and Rosaline Williams stepped forward and identified themselves.
“I think it’s so terrible that if they’re (Williams’ relatives) so inspired” to insist that Jewett be buried in Hodgdon rather than at Togus, “why aren’t they here?”
Another Maine member of the Patriot Guard Riders wondered aloud if the Williams’ relatives would reimburse the Riders for their expenses incurred in bringing Jewett back to Maine. Many of the motorcyclists scheduled their vacations and spent considerable personal funds to help him get home.
From the conversations taking place among the Patriot Guard Riders after the ceremony, one fact became clear: the state’s decision to let Jewett be buried elsewhere than Togus had left the Riders feeling hoodwinked.
Their feelings are possibly justified; a Facebook post put up last Friday by a Hodgdon resident indicated that people in that town already knew that Jewett would be buried there.
Why state officials chose not to share that information with the volunteers transporting Jewett to Maine at their personal expense remains a mystery.
From the Bangor Daily News bangordailynews.com 08/22/16:
Civil War veteran’s remains make it home to Maine
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 22, 2016, at 6:58 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Maine — The Civil War soldier from Maine whose remains were stored haphazardly at the Oregon State Hospital for nearly 100 years has finally come home.
Army Pvt. Jewett Williams of Hodgdon, who fought for the Union Army with the famed 20th Maine, made his second stop in the Pine Tree State on Monday afternoon when the small, American flag-wrapped cardboard box holding his cremains arrived at the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta. It will not be the end of his journey, though.
A pair of distant cousins from Aroostook County have stepped forward to claim Williams’ ashes. He will be laid to rest beside his parents in the family plot in Hodgdon, according to VA officials.
“Can we all have a big round of applause for Pvt. Jewett Williams finally making his way home to Maine?” asked Adria Horn, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services, during a short ceremony outside the hospital here. “He’ll go back where he began his journey. It really is a remarkable story and a fitting tribute.”
Story continues below advertisement.
Williams’ ashes traveled across the country in style, accompanied by a battalion of Patriot Guard Riders who handed the box off from one group of motorcyclists to the next like a kind of modern-day Pony Express. Many of those riders came to Togus on Monday to witness Williams’ cremains being handed over to Maine VA officials, including Neil Wagner of Royersford, Pennsylvania.
“When I found out they were bringing a Civil War veteran, I said, ‘I can’t miss this one.’ I could be part of history,” he said. “It was very humbling. Every time he was handed off to a different guard group there were tears shed because he was getting closer to home.”
Christabell Rose, who is part of the Falmouth-based Maine Living History Association, dismounted from one of the Patriot Guard Riders’ motorcycles Monday while wearing a wide-skirted 1860s-style dress. After taking off her helmet, she bundled her hair into a black snood. Rose had traveled with Williams’ cremains from Appomattox, Virginia, organizing ceremonies at state line crossings all the way up to Maine.
More than 150 Patriot Guard Riders participated in the Maine ceremony in Kittery, which took place after riders dismounted and carried his ashes across the Piscataqua River on the Memorial Bridge. The nonprofit motorcycle organization was formed to attend funeral services of American veterans as invited guests of the family.
“He was celebrated on his way home,” she said. “The love and support outside the state of Maine was just phenomenal.”
That’s a big change for the former Union soldier, who died at the Oregon hospital in 1922, with no one to claim his remains.
Williams had a tough time during the Civil War and lived a peripatetic life after it, according to Tom Desjardin, a historian and recent acting commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.
“As the war came closer to the end, they fought more and more often,” Desjardin said. “The 20th Maine was in the piece of the army that literally chased General Robert E. Lee west.”
Afterward, Williams came back to Maine, married and then got divorced about five years later. He remarried and left the state, Desjardin said, moving with his wife to Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington state and then Oregon. They had six children, although one died as a child, and the couple divorced in 1899 “at her insistence,” Desjardin said.
Williams was among veterans who spoke at school Memorial Day programs from 1914 to 1919, according to the Statesman Journal.
Census records from 1920 list Williams as a widower who was still working as a laborer at age 75, according to the Oregon newspaper. He was sick and suffering from dementia when he was admitted to the state hospital in 1922. He died three months later at age 78.
His ashes were placed in a copper urn and kept in various locations on hospital grounds along with those of more than 3,000 other people who died at the hospital between 1914 and 1971 and whose remains were never claimed, the Statesman Journal said.
Desjardin learned that the 20th Maine veteran’s ashes were in Oregon when he was researching what had happened to each soldier who fought in the regiment. He proposed the state bring Williams home.
“I discovered that his remains were in a can on a shelf in a shed out in Oregon and had been there for 94 years, unclaimed,” the historian said. “Back home is better than a shelf on a shed in Oregon.”
Togus officials had planned to open up the long-closed national cemetery on the medical center’s grounds and bury him near five other 20th Maine veterans. But when Williams’ elderly relatives — first cousins four times removed — asked to have him come home, Horn said hospital authorities were happy to comply. The relatives, who did not attend the Monday ceremony, sent a letter proving their relationship to Williams, she said.
The decision to allow Williams to be buried in Hodgdon was not unanimously cheered by attendees on Monday. One woman challenged Horn, asking whether there is proof the Hodgdon cousins are related to Williams. Another said that the Army had become Williams’ family.
“He was very proud of being a soldier,” Rose said. “That’s why it would be very appropriate for him to be laid to rest with his brothers-at-arms. With his military family.”
But that will not happen.
“I know there’s a lot of people who are disappointed,” Horn said. “But the family has the best, the right and always the highest priority. Cemeteries have their purpose, but we would never object to the family’s wishes.”
Williams’ remains will be kept at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery on the Mount Vernon Road in Augusta until Saturday, Sept. 17, when the remains will be taken to Aroostook County. The public can come and pay tribute to him while he is at the Augusta Cemetery, according to the VA.
From The Washington post washingtonpost.com 08/25/16
Civil War veteran to be buried in family plot, not in military cemetery
By Linda Wheeler August 25
Distant relatives of Pvt. Jewett Williams, a Civil War soldier whose ashes were carried cross-county by a motorcycle relay from Oregon to Maine this month, will bury their ancestor in a family plot rather than have him buried in a national military cemetery as previously announced.
The burial, with full military honors, is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. in the small town of Hodgdon, in the far northeast part of Maine. The public is welcome to attend the service.
While Williams’s ashes were on a three-week meandering journey across the country, officials at the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services in Augusta searched for any direct descendants to take charge of his burial but did not find anyone. Therefore, a proper burial fell to the bureau, and a funeral at a national military cemetery was planned. But just a few days before the last relay team reached Augusta, the bureau’s director got a surprise call.
“We just heard there were no descendants of Jewett Williams found,” a man said to Adria O. Horn. “We’d like to correct that.”
Horn said the descendants asked that their names not be publicized.
Horn said his office looked at the documentation that was offered and determined that Williams did have living relatives, although very distant ones. Williams will be buried near his parents, Jared and Rosaline Williams, in a family plot.
Although the three-week journey of the Patriot Guard Riders to bring Williams’s ashes home had received a lot of news coverage, his relatives knew nothing about it because they did not have a computer and relied on a local paper for news, Horn said. It was a neighbor who first made the connection between the local family and Williams and that led to the call Horn received.
Williams appears to have been lost to his family well before he died in 1922 at age 78 at the Oregon State Hospital. Records indicate that he volunteered for the Union Army in 1864, fought with the well-known 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and witnessed the surrender at Appomattox Court House. From there, he went back home, married and then divorced five years later. He remarried and left the state, never to return until now.
He and his family lived in Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington and finally Oregon. By 1899, he had gotten divorced a second time. In 1920, census records show that he was listed as a widower and was still working as a laborer at age 75. Three years later, he was admitted to the state hospital, where he was determined to have dementia. When he died three months after being admitted, no one claimed his body so he was cremated.
Several years ago, researchers found more than 3,000 cremated remains stored in a basement room of the hospital and a long search began to identify whose ashes were in the copper boxes and if there were any relatives to be notified. That was how Williams’s remains were discovered, and Maine officials then decided he should return east for burial.
Initially, the ashes were going to be mailed to Maine, but the Patriot Guard Riders decided Williams deserved more than that. Over several thousand miles and through a number of states, he traveled with an escort who handled the container with great reverence as each new relay took over. Augusta was supposed to be the last stop, but the Maine division of the PGR has one more assignment. Next month, it will escort Williams to Hodgdon.
From The Boston Globe bostonglobe.com 08/27/16:
Long journey home, by motorcycle, for Maine Civil War vet
By Brian MacQuarrie GLOBE STAFF AUGUST 27, 2016
SOUTH HADLEY — The Town Common resembled a Civil War camp, all flags and uniforms and crisp salutes, as the cremated remains of Private Jewett Williams arrived here toward the end of an emotional, cross-country journey.
The stay was only a short one, a fleeting chance last weekend to honor a Union veteran who finally, incredibly, was on his way home to Maine after his long-forgotten ashes had been reclaimed from the Oregon psychiatric hospital where he died in 1922.
“He’s finally getting the fair and full military honors that he deserved and earned,” said Ryan Dolan, a 25-year-old from Granby, who was dressed in a lieutenant’s uniform of the First Massachusetts Cavalry.
In a Sept. 24 ceremony in a small town on the Canadian border, Williams almost certainly will be the last of the famed 20th Maine Infantry Regiment to be interred.
His long, rolling trip home was led across 21 statesby the Patriot Guard Riders, a national organization of veterans who provide motorcycle escorts at many military funerals. Along the way from Oregon — through the Rockies, the Midwest, and then Appomattox, Va., and Gettysburg, Pa. — many veterans and others paid their respects to a man who died at age 79 after apparently losing all contact with his family in faraway Maine.
“It’s showing you’re not forgotten,” said Richard Haste, a 56-year-old Navy veteran who spoke at the South Hadley event.
Twenty-one rifle shots were fired at South Hadley, a prayer was said, and the remains of Williams — who was a 21-year-old farmer when he was drafted in 1864 — embarked on the next leg of the 3,700-mile trek. Williams was not with the 20th Maine during its legendary stand at Gettysburg, but he was with the regiment when its soldiers witnessed the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1865.
The remains of Jewett Williams, a Civil War veteran, were accompanied by motorcycle escort from Oregon to his home state of Maine.
“It’s important to all of us that every soldier comes home,” said Mike Edgecomb, captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of Maine.
On Monday, the ashes reached the Togus Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta, Maine, where they will remain on public view until they are buried in a family plot in Hodgdon.
It’s a repatriation that will culminate in the soldier’s interment with his parents and a baby sister. Williams returned to Maine only briefly after the war and spent the rest of his life moving toward the Pacific Ocean.
He disappeared amid the vast migration of former soldiers who headed west in the hope of better opportunities. But his life’s journey — to Minnesota, Colorado, Washington state, and Oregon — did not bring him riches.
Williams had six children, married twice, and is believed to have worked as a carpenter, lumberjack, and laborer until he died at Oregon State Hospital, where his ashes were found among 3,500 unclaimed urns that were rediscovered by chance in 2004.
Thomas Desjardin, a special assistant to Governor Paul LePage of Maine, helped bring Williams out of the shadows. Research by Desjardin, an author and expert on the 20th Maine, led to Oregon death records that placed Williams at the insane asylum.
Excited by the discovery, Desjardin prepared to travel to Oregon to retrieve the remains. Instead, the Patriot Guard Riders stepped up, handing off the ashes to different chapters of the group at each state border.
“He’s become this national symbol of repatriating a veteran to home,” said Adria Horn, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services. “This means more to people than we could have anticipated.”
The outpouring also shows the emotional pull of the Civil War after more than 150 years. “It was our bloodiest war and is the root of some of our social problems still today, some that haven’t been resolved,” Haste said.
The transcontinental trek stopped Aug. 18 at Appomattox, where a ceremony was held near the area where the 20th Maine had stood during the surrender.
“That was the day that the cause of their suffering ended, but not all their suffering,” said Desjardin, a former state education commissioner.
Williams, for example, transitioned like many fellow veterans into a life of near-constant struggle. His death certificate listed him as a laborer, but he continued to identify with his experiences in the war. Williams spoke about them to students in Oregon public schools from 1914 to 1919.
Maine officials initially did not know whether Williams had descendants in the Hodgdon area. However, a group of six siblings came forward with documentation that showed they are first cousins of the soldier, three times removed. Those siblings — three of whom live in Hodgdon — will be involved in the burial.
Tanya Marshall Pasquarelli, an amateur historian from the town, helped broker the connection between family and state. The memory of Williams had not disappeared completely from family lore, she said, but not much was known about the young soldier and his subsequent life.
Still, she said, the return of his remains will be profoundly evocative — not only for the family, but also for the remote but beautiful area where they live.
“All of Aroostook County is supportive, honored, and proud to have one of our own come back,” Pasquarelli said.
Copyright 2016 Q Madp PO Box 86888 Portland OR 97286-0888 www.OurWarHeroes.org