As veterans, Chapek and Peterseim also know about respect for those who served.
Perhaps that's why they recently teamed up to honor the many long-forgotten Civil War veterans now resting in the Richmond Public Cemetery. The two men, along with several other generous folks in the Kalona/Richmond area, are responsible for the creation of a unique modern-day Civil War monument recently erected in the cemetery, which located just a few miles south of Kalona.
The monument includes a bronze plaque that lists the names of some 20 Civil War veterans currently buried in the Richmond Cemetery. It will be dedicated during a special ceremony this coming Sunday, November 14 in lieu of Veterans Day.
The ceremony begins at 1 p.m. at the north edge of the Richmond Ceremony. The firing squad and color guard of the Richmond AmVets Post #107 will be on hand to conduct the event appropriately.
Chapek, who is a trustee of English River Township and an active member of the Richmond Amvets, explained his main reason for spearheading the new Civil War memorial was that most of the old civil war stones in the local cemetery are weathered by age. Some are barely readable. This is important to Chapek and other local members of the community, as each veteran's grave is traditionally marked by an American flag twice each year during Veterans Day and Memorial Day, as is done by veteran's organizations across the United States.
"My son and I come out here and put the flags on the graves, we saw the old markers fading more and more every year," explained Chapek. "As a small public cemetery, the funding just isn't there for repairs and upkeep."
Chapek also noted that the Richmond Cemetery is one of the oldest in this area. Established in 1840, the cemetery (like Richmond itself) is much older than the town of Kalona. "Richmond had the only post office in the local area during the time of the Civil War in the 1860s, because Kalona hadn't even been established as a town at that time," Chapek said. "Therefore, a lot of veterans' names from that time were registered as having Richmond addresses, even if they lived elsewhere in the northern part of the county. A lot of those veterans returned here after the war and are buried here."
According to records from the Washington County Courthouse, a total of 160 Civil War veterans from Iowa listed Richmond as their official address. Of that number, about 40 were actually killed in action or died from their casualties and other illness such as typhoid during the war itself. Today, 22 Civil War veterans are officially buried in the Richmond Cemetery, some having died during the war and several, after the war.
Names of the veterans on the plaque, as well as their date of death are as follows: Aleson Bunker, 1864; John Dulgara, 1901; William E. Rogers (no date); James Gilbert, 1863; William Bailey, 1866; John Haigler (no date); James Figgan, 1863; Daniel Page, 1881; Leonard Bush (no date); Willis Arnold, 1883; Samuel Curry, 1862; Leander Dawson, 1891; Gerald J. Bush, 1921; John Farley, 1871; Jacob Bishop, 1911; Ira Cox, 1862; B.F. Demorest, 1923; Benjamin Barger, 1917; John B. Stober, 1891; and Joseph Abbey, 1861.
While Chapek himself donated the cost of the bronze plaque that lists the veterans' names and information, others from the local area were involved in the Richmond Civil War Memorial project. The Prebyl family of Richmond furnished the large marker to which the plaque is attached, Dayle Chalupa landscaped the north side of the cemetery where the memorial is now located, Jim Sanders donated his labor to drill the holes, and Harold "Short" Peterseim, donated the flagpole, which stands proudly beside the memorial.
According to state records, a total of 97,165 soldiers from Iowa fought on the side of the Union Army during the Civil War (1861-1865).