The wars they fought in have been over for a century—and longer. But two veterans in the Mountain Valley Cemetery are getting some recognition for their service this year.
The men, Joe Owens and James Leonard Caulk, were veterans of the Civil War and World War I, respectively, and are buried in what until recently was known as the Barton Cemetery near Route 66 Elementary School.
Christie Boyer is coordinating an event to honor the men this Saturday, May 28, when speeches will be made and new headstones placed on graves that have lain silent for almost a hundred years.
Boyer has researched the families, and said there are no known survivors for either man. Owens is buried in a plot paid for by Harmon Owens, Boyer said, sometime in the second half of 1919.
He was born in 1840 in Missouri. “He would have been the Civil War vet,” Boyers said. The state historian, Rick Hendricks, confirmed that Owens had been at Fort Fillmore.
Putting the pieces together like a puzzle, Boyers explained, “The old temporary marker says, ‘Joe Owens, Civil War.’ On the bottom is says Hanlon. Hanlon Mortuary didn’t start until 1908. The cemetary opened in 1909. You find burials starting in 1917 for the Owens family.”
Owens was in Company A of the 7th Infantry.
Boyer said Company A had been at Fort Fillmore under a Major Lynn in a time when the fort was mostly a refuge from hostile Native Americans in the area. “The confederates came, and Lynn had the soldiers all surrender,” she said.
The confederates then “turned them loose,” so the soldiers went to Fort Craig and were issued new weapons. Lynn, meanwhile, was court martialed by President Abraham Lincoln, Boyer said.
Caulk was a World War I veteran, a man married five times, Boyer said, and enlisted out of Oklahoma. Family ties appear in Oklahoma and Missouri, she said.
Caulk’s last wife became the postmistress for “Barton, Bernalillo County,” Boyer said. After his death, she still held the position when it turned into “Edgewood, Santa Fe County.”
Caulk’s stepfather “was apparently quite political,” Boyer said, and had been at a campaign rally with the future President Harry Truman, when Truman was 16 years old. Truman gave him a campaign button which Caulk’s stepfather, Mr. Price, sent the button back to Truman, who responded.
Remembering the family tales of the two men is just part of the story, Boyer said, describing her “passion for having some of these [graves] marked.” She is on the board of the Mountain Valley Cemetary, but said it’s more than that.
“We went to the effort to bury these people. They took an oath to protect the Constitution, and I really feel like it’s the least we can do to have a permanent marker placed where their bodies were left,” Boyer said, adding, “To me it’s a way to honor those that did serve that have now passed. And they served knowing when they took that oath they may or may not live through it. And they were doing it for people they didn’t know. Our family members have faith and confidence that people would watch over us. … We are the only family members left for these guys.”
The ceremony will be held at the Mountain Valley Cemetery on Barton Road, south of Route 66 Elementary School starting at 10:30 a.m.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend. The day before, flags will be placed on the 100 or so graves of veterans in that cemetery, Boyer said.
Donations have been made by the American Legion Post 74, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, Harris-Hanlon Mortuary, Worthen Memorials and others. The ceremony will include recognition by Edgewood Mayor John Bassett.
For information or to get involved, contact Boyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.