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Civil War veteran Abraham Jenkins gets a military gravestone

The gravestones of Abraham Jenkins and Mary Owens Jenkins are pictured at Brookfield Cemetery in Tuscarawas Township, Ohio.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY JOE HERRICK

By STEVEN M. GRAZIER | The Repository, Canton, Ohio | Published: May 18, 2020

TUSCARAWAS TWP., Ohio (Tribune News Service) — The quest to honor a local Civil War veteran has ended.

The U.S. military gravestone of war veteran Abraham "Abie" Jenkins arrived in early April from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The stone was later placed at his burial site — unmarked for nearly 117 years — in Brookfield Cemetery. He died in 1903.

About seven years ago, local pals Joe Herrick and Mike Bardin launched a mission to confirm the military service and honor Jenkins, who entered the Civil War in 1861.

He was the post-military husband of local military legend Mary Owens Jenkins. Family members had believed for decades that the two were buried side-by-side at her grave marker; however, nothing was ever verified regarding Abraham until recently.

In January, confirmation of Abraham Jenkins' burial came as a radar technician located the remains of two bodies at the grave site of Owens Jenkins at Brookfield Cemetery.

A device — referred to as a ground penetrating radar system — confirmed the digital images below. And the VA had endorsed his military service record.

"I'm glad it's done," said Herrick, "but disappointed we didn't get a ceremonial conclusion."

The original plan, according to Herrick, was to host a Memorial Day ceremony to honor Jenkins and place U.S. flags at his gravesite. However, the ongoing coronavirus crisis has nixed that idea.

"Memorial Day was to be our coming out, but the virus had other plans," Herrick said.

Mary Owens, who at 20 years old and single in 1861, joined the Union Army as a man to serve in the Civil War, so she could remain alongside her then-sweetheart, William Evans. She posed as his brother, "Johnny Evans," when they enlisted at a Pennsylvania recruiting facility.

According to Dianne Bates, cemetery sexton for Tuscarawas Township, the placing of Abraham Jenkins' headstone seems to cap the narrative of the couple.

"It kind of completes another chapter of her story, and shares more about her later life with him," Bates said.

About 'Abie' Jenkins

Abraham Jenkins died in November 1903 at the age of roughly 65. A Nov. 24, 1903, article in the Evening Independent indicates he was killed after falling out of a railroad car as it rounded a bend along the West Tremont Street bridge.

Jenkins was known locally as an occasional heavy drinker, Bardin has said.

Specifics related to Abraham "Abie" Jenkins' life are limited. He was born in 1841 and enlisted in the 38th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on May 1, 1861, and was discharged on May 15, 1863, by order of a surgeon's certificate. That indicates he was either wounded or ill during the Civil War.

The military unit was organized in Pittsburgh. He and Owens Jenkins apparently met while serving as Union soldiers in the war.

He and Owens Jenkins were married after the war. The couple had four children; three reached adulthood.

The couple moved to the Massillon area, referenced as North Lawrence in the Evening Independent, after 1880. They resided in Wadsworth prior to relocating to western Stark County.

She died in 1884 at age 43.

steven.grazier@indeonline.com

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