The town council cancelled the last of the Texter bonds which were floated in 1874 for the purpose of cobbling Main street to lift Grafton from the mud. The members of the council celebrated the event with speeches of congratulation and gratification when the town treasurer touched a match to the remaining twenty-year-old certificated. For some years certain citizens urged the administrations to repudiate this honest debt, but to the glory and honor those men in whose the citizens placed the administration of the town, the debt was faithfully kept alive, the interest paid at stated periods and the bonds cancelled as fast as the council had the funds to call in parcels of this issue.
Josiah C. White, prominent citizen and magistrate of West Grafton, one of the first settlers of West Grafton, died at his home on Pearl street May 11, 1894. He came to Pruntytown from Evansville in the early 50s and was prominent in the business life of Pruntytown and with the settlement of Grafton came and established his family home. Highly educated, he saw the need of a depot for books, newspapers and periodicals for the enlightenment of the town people and when the post office was removed from St. John to Latrobe street, he arranged with Captain Daniel Wilson, the postmaster, for use of part of the room for a news depot and save Grafton its first real book and news store. He was commissioned postmaster when the Post Office department established the first post office in West Grafton in 1884 and leased part of the store of Thomas E. Davis to house the post office on that side of the river.
In 1894, Mrs. Maria Leeds, wife of Dr. Alexander Leeds, a veteran of the Civil war and prominent dentist of Grafton, saw the need of having the widows and orphans of the veterans of the war provided for who were without means. Mrs. Leeds began the movement for organizing the Womans Relief Corps. With the completion of this organization, the federal government was appealed to, to grant those in dire need of a monthly allowance to relieve their distress. She saw her efforts come to fruition when the government granted a pension to all wives and daughters and other dependents of the men who fought in all the American wars.
She, too, began the movement for the annual Memorial sermon delivered by the pastors of the Grafton churches in 1894 when she appeared before the members of Reno Post No.7 and urged them to get behind this movement to attend divine services on the Sunday preceding memorial Day and she, too saw this movement bear fruit when the Post arranged with Reverend Artur F. Richardson, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran church, to deliver the first Memorial sermon to members of the post and the Womans Relief Corps on Sunday May 26, 1894. This custom established 45 years ago has been faithfully observed in all the passing years. But sad to say not a single member survives, who under the leadership of Commander J. Clark Lewellyn who with the beautiful colors of the flag carried in front of them marched in a body to this first Memorial sermon nearly half a century ago. This custom is still practiced by the members of the American Legion who gather on each Sunday before Memorial Day and with the colors in front and to the music of bugles and drums keep this custom after the veterans had passed on.
The town council provided the police with regulation uniforms in 1894 so that strangers coming into town, so said the Grafton Sentinel, “Will be able to tell a policeman when they see him.” Anyhow the new uniforms, consisting of blue suits, helmets, belts, badges and clubs, lent a dignity to the force heretofore lacking.
Reno Post No. 7, Grand Army of the Republic, appointed John S.S. Herr to ascertain the names and numbers of veterans of all American wars who were buried in Bluemont cemetery. He found the names of 63 who served in the 60s the first being Winfield Kennedy who was buried June 20, 1866, and one Major John M. Houston who served in the Mexican and Indian wars of 1840. The last member buried in Bluemont who served as sergeant of the Grafton Guards organized by Captain George R. Latham in April 1861, was Thomas C. Nuzum who died at Yakima, state of Washington, March 10, 1936, and his remains brought back to rest beside his wife and children in Bluemont cemetery.
Here too lies the body of George Jordan, the most romantic and colorful figure of Grafton during the Civil war who died February 1, 1885, who single handed prevented the town of Grafton from being seized by the Confederate forces on that historical Tuesday May 22, 1861.
The American Legion began the movement in 1939 to located the graves of all soldiers who participated in all American wars, and have them suitably marked with headstones provided by the Federal government and will publish the list in the very near future so that those who fought to preserve the nation in the different crisis that confronted her will receive their due recognition. Letitia, wife of Attorney Charles P. Guard, died at her home on West Washington street July 10, 1894. Born Letitia, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Graham of Grafton in 1860, she was married to Charles Guard December 24, 1892.
This very beautiful young wife, after a happy wedded life of 19 months, was taken by death and the romance of youth with the beautiful woman who walked by his side for so short time brought so much anguish to the young husband who wrote of her those very beautiful lines:
“Shall We Be Changed”
Once in the past I had a friend
With whom I walked;
With whom until the journey’s end I laughed and talked;
Nor dreamed that near us, even then
A spectre stalked
That friend is gone, and I alone
Pursue my way
With lips that neither sigh nor moan
Nor often pray;
When one for bread, receives a stone
Faith runs away
And shall we ever meet again?
I do not know;
Somewhere beyond the haunts of men
But meet again as we met then
Ah, no! Ah, no!
His heartache was so great at the passing of this woman on whom he lavished an affection given to few, he ever kept her memory green to the last days of his life and with reverence and tender care he spent many days at the side of the mound in Bluemont cemetery in remembrance of her who walked by his side for the all too short months of bliss and to her memory her wrote:
“In the green old earth that gave us birth,
In the distant days of yore,
There spots I find that to all mankind,
Are sacred forever more.
Some spots that we feel so strong appeal.
To the thought of other years
That we bare our heads as with reverent tread,
We enter this vale of tears.
It maybe, forsooth, where the hopes of youth,
Went down, neath the native sky,
Or friendship’s hand, in a foreign land,
Unclasped in a last good-by;
Or yet perchance, where a summer romance,
Recorded a lovers vow.
And a sorrow keen for the might have been,
Is the sole remembrance now.
But of all the bowers in this land of ours,
Or worlds beyond the seas,
There’s never a place, my fancy can trace,
That is half so dear to me;
As a little spot in a grassy plot,
With myrtle and ivy crossed,
Where the slanting rays of the sunlight plays,
O’er the friend I loved and lost.
Ah, more than the worth of this priceless earth?
Or the wealth of the jeweled main
Do I prize the ground that fashions the mound,
Where the love of a life is lain;
And many a tyst, in the morning mist
That hallowed spot has known,
And oft at its side at eventide,
I wander to weep alone.”
And this man with a giant intellect, shaken with grief and bowed down with his loss and who looked forward with infinite hope of again meeting her for whom he sorrowed and who never placed another in his home or his affections, but devoted himself to the practice of law and stood at the very head of his profession in this high vocation. Unsung, this man whose soul was lifted far above his fellowman as a writer and poet who heard music in the stars and harmony in the scenes about him and had he chosen his name might have been among the elect with his compositions, many of which never were printed.