New Civil War marker dedicated at Old Auxvasse Cemetery

Photo by Don Norfleet.

About 200 Callaway County residents gathered Saturday afternoon at the Old Auxvasse Cemetery north of Calwood to dedicate a new Civil War marker.

The interpretive panel marker is located along the Mid-Missouri Civil War Gray Ghost Trail. The marker was paid for by John Payne Harrison, whose family has deep roots in the area. The family participated in the unveiling of the marker.

All three members of the Callaway County Commission attended the event. Presiding Commissioner Lee Fritz presented a proclamation issued by the commission praising members of the community that were instrumental in creating the Civil War marker.

The Old Auxvasse Cemetery marker is the third of seven planned markers along the Mid-Missouri Civil War driving trail.

The first marker along the Gray Ghosts Trail is located at Kingdom City. The second is at Hockaday Hill in Fulton.

A Gray Ghosts Trail marker will be placed next spring at Westminster College in Fulton.

Greg Wolk, president of Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation, was the featured speaker at Saturday's dedication ceremony.

Wolk said Missouri has been left out of much Civil War history. Wolk said there were many battles in Missouri but Missouri leaders have hidden the state's role in the war. "It's time we fill the void. If we are going to do that, we will have to do it ourselves. The state is trying, but not very hard. Missouri is afraid we can't handle our history," Wolk said.

Wolk said one of the largest calvary raids during the war was in 1863 at Marshall, Mo.

The battle of Moore's Mill on July 28, 1862, occurred only two miles south of the Old Auxvasse Cemetery, Wolk said.

People at the church by the cemetery could hear the boom of cannons. The battle involving about 1,000 troops lasted for four hours. Union forces won the battle and there were more than 200 causalities. Because most people living in the area sided with Confederates, Union soldiers, wounded and dead, were carried away in wagons. Some of the wounded without transportation crawled up trees. Many of them fell out of the trees, some dead and some still alive.

At the southwest corner of the Old Auxvasse Cemetery are two large gravestone markers for the Maddox family.

Harrison told the crowd at the ceremony that the Maddox family raised mules. One mule 18 hands tall was shown at the World's Fair in St. Louis. His farm was known as Callaway Acre Farm. Harrison said the fence around the farm had all white posts painted with green tops.

Harrison said about 25 years ago there was a big storm and about two thirds of the old cedar trees in the cemetery were downed. Harrison said he cut a big oak tree down and left a large stump. A few years ago he looked into the trunk of the tree and saw that it was hollow. He reached down into the bottom of the tree trunk and found a metal hitch ring. When the tree was much smaller, the tree grew around the old hitch ring. When the tree decayed, the hitch ring was revealed, which Harrison showed the crowd.

Harrison said the Simco family also was attending the event Saturday and decided to have a family reunion at the same time of the marker dedication so they could attend the event.

The Rev. John F. Cowan was pastor of the Auxvasse Presbyterian Church, which is next to the Old Auxvasse Cemetery. Rev. Cowan arrived in November of 1861 near the start of the Civil War. He also was a professor at Westminster College in Fulton, and was awarded a doctorate by the college in 1881. Cowan died on April 5, 1915, serving as pastor of the old church for more than half a century.

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