June 22, 2012
Honor Overdue: Civil War soldier gets marker
By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
A Civil War veteran has been lying in an unmarked grave for 148 years, but a local effort has changed that.
On Saturday, about 75 people attended a formal ceremony in Gardendale for Confederate soldier Pvt. Arthur Malone Belcher, whose grave finally received a headstone two weeks ago. Belcher served in the 21st Alabama Infantry, Company F, Baldwin Rifles No. 2.
He rests beside his wife, Tabitha Little Belcher, and their son at the Friendship Cemetery in Gardendale.
The Alabama Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Cpt. Mortimer Jordan Camp No. 84. sponsored the ceremony.
“We are right to be here today,” 2nd Lt. Commander of the Alabama Division told the crowd. “We are right to honor him as an American patriot.”
Arthur Belcher is an ancestor to Patsy Duncan of Gardendale. Belcher was her grandmothers’ grandfather.
“I am so thankful that he’s being recognized,” Duncan said. “He was a son of the South. He deserves to be recognized.”
Duncan got the ball rolling in getting Belcher’s grave marker. She worked with Kermit Dooley, president of the Gardendale Historical Society and a member of the Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance, as well as with the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV).
The SCV applied through the Veterans Administration for the headstone. First Lt. Commander John Echols and Adjutant Albert Snow set up the stone on June 2.
“Nobody should lay in an unmarked grave,” said Snow.
“We make sure they’re never forgotten,” said Echols, who has 11 ancestors who fought in the Civil War. “The Confederate veterans were not traitors. They fought for Southern independence.”
Dooley has helped unravel many mysteries over the years, resulting in families finding the graves of their ancestors.
“Both sides [Confederates and Union soldiers] should be recognized,” he said. “No grave should be unmarked.”
Dooley helped located the grave at the Friendship Cemetery, which is beside Friendship Community Church.
“The books always stated he was buried at Friendship,” he said.
“We knew he was up there, but we just had to do the research,” said Duncan.
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