Civil War Veteran William Early to Receive New Grave Marker

William James Early was born into slavery. When he enlisted to fight in the Civil War he had to do so under his slave name, Gaines.

Photos Provided by Lawrenceburg Public Library

(Greendale, IN) - William James Early was born into slavery. When he enlisted to fight in the Civil War he had to do so under his slave name, Gaines.

He served to fight for freedom in his country alongside the Union.

When Early died in Lawrenceburg at the age of 90 on March 22, 1934, William Gaines was placed on his grave marker in the Greendale Cemetery.

Lawrenceburg Public Library District Genealogist Rachael Scott found out his slave name was used instead of his birth name on his grave marker.

“The story of William Early is incredible. As part of a library program to honor military veterans, I wanted to learn more about him and visit his grave at Greendale Cemetery. I walked all over, but I was unable to find his grave marker. I then discovered the horrifying fact. William was buried under his slave name,” said Scott.

Scott wanted to make a change, so she started a research project to prove William’s true identity through a series of government documents and other testimonials.

As a young man, he ran away and joined the Union Army. William “Gaines” became a part of Company E, 117th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, on Aug. 22, 1864.

On April 6, 1865, as he was carrying a bag of gun powder, an ember from a nearby fire landed in his bag, which exploded.

“He suffered terrible burns on his face, neck, chest, arms, and hands. He was hospitalized in a military hospital in Baltimore until he was eventually discharged for disability on Jan. 23, 1866,” said Scott.

William was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group of Union Civil War veterans, and they made sure that he was buried with full military honors. They provided it for the name under which his military records appeared, she said.

Rachel Scott received word last month that the VA would supply a brand-new marker.

Greendale Cemetery Board Member E.G. McLaughlin has been helping Scott plan for the installation of the new grave marker.

Scott and McLaughlin wanted to find a way to let people know more about this veteran. Jonas Memorial Arts offered to engrave information about Early’s life on the back of the grave marker.

A dedication will be held sometime in the future. You can learn more about Early and his remarkable life during a program at the Lawrenceburg Main Library at 6:30 p.m. this Wednesday on Juneteenth.

More from Local News

Events

Residents Asked to Take Survey Regarding Owner-Occupied Rehab Program

The City of Lawrenceburg is applying for grant funding through OCRA.

New School Attendance Program Aims to Reduce Absenteeism in Dearborn, Ohio Counties

The program was announced by Judge Aaron Negangard on Tuesday afternoon.

Aberdeen Pate Water Issues Water Boil Advisory

The advisory is for a select group of Ohio County residents.

SEI Trio Named to Preseason All-State Teams

Brady Ballart, Noah Knigga and Dylan Offill are ready to give offenses headaches again in 2024.

Riehle Wins Again at Knight Flight 5K

Ben Riehle and Lanie Nicholson are the overall leaders through three races.

Kayla Roell Makes History with Win at Lawrenceburg Speedway

Roell won the sprint car race on Saturday night.

On Air

Chelsie playing
Restless Heart - Bluest Eyes in Texas

Lainey Wilson Things A Man Oughta Know 9:12
Radney Foster Nobody Wins 9:09
Justin Moore This Is My Dirt 9:05
Fox News Fox News National Newscast 9:04