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A Century Later, Clearwater Veteran Given Headstone [AUDIO]


Abby Faulkner


A Civil War Soldier hailing from central Minnesota has finally been honored with a headstone on his grave site. Reporter Abby Faulkner tells his story.


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CLEARWATER – When sisters Fern Meyer and Joyce Witschen discovered, though family tree research, that they had an ancestor buried in an unmarked Clearwater grave, they knew they needed to look into remedying the situation.

They felt the man in question, their great-grandfather Mathew Murphy, deserved a memorial fit for an American war veteran.

Though Murphy emigrated to the United States from Ireland in the mid-1800s, it wasn’t long before he became a private in the military. He fought for the Union Army’s 8th Volunteer Infantry in Tennessee, as well as during the 1862 Sioux Uprising.

After being honorably discharged in 1865, Murphy lived out his life in the Clearwater area as a farmer and bee keeper. He passed away in 1915, but was buried only with a small star for a marker in St. Luke’s Cemetery.

Fast-forward nearly a century. Meyer and Witschen, along with their familes, are celebrating the installation of a real headstone on Murphy’s grave site. Meyer even flew from her home in San Francisco to join other members of their family for a ceremony honoring Murphy this past weekend – most of whom, like Witschen, are still living right here in the area.

It felt neat. I couldn’t believe that many people showed up. There were four of us. We have two brothers who passed away and another sister who passed away. There were seven of us.

Murphy and Witschen say, initially, the biggest holdup to obtaining the headstone was money. Headstones are expensive. But to their excitement, Murphy’s memorial was paid for and shipped by the VA back in November. The family just wanted to wait for summer weather before having their memorial celebration.

We put it on Facebook, told everyone it was going to be on Saturday. 14 people showed up and everyone was real nice. I read this little list off so everyone knew the background, and Joyce got them started singing the Star-Spangled Banner.

While family members like Meyer have since left for their faraway homes, the sisters agree; the work to honor Murphy was a personal and proud patriotic celebration, and well worth the effort.

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