Corporal Walker Lillard,
Thanks to Erik Thorson for sharing the following information
Below is a copy of a press release regarding the dedication of Corporal Walker Lillard's headstone:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For information contact:
Charles Boydstun, 573-581-2922
or Wayne Sampson, 573-581-4707
FROM SLAVE TO SOLDIER:
BLUE AND GRAY UNITE TO HONOR BLACK SOLDIER
MEXICO, Mo. - In a rare occurrence, descendants and friends of both Confederate and Union soldiers will join to commemorate a soldier's
stone for an African-American Union soldier, Cpl. Walker Lillard (1838-1908) of the 68th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment. His remains at Mexico, Mo's. Elmwood Cemetery have been unmarked for 102 years but his final resting place was finally identified thanks to the efforts of some of those same descendants.
Relatives of Corporal Lillard, gathering from across the country, are expected to witness the ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25. Rev. Karl Thomas of the 2nd Missionary Baptist Church will deliver the eulogy, with special music provided by the church choir and by Kathrine Dillingham and Tom Schultz, friends of the Fulton-based Elijah Gates Camp No. 570 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). Camp compatriots will join members of the Columbia-based Tiger Camp No. 432 and the Wentsville-based Gen. Alexander S. Asboth Camp No. 5 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) in a most unusual combined Blue-Gray honor guard featuring soldiers' colors and a fired salute.
On what will also be the 102nd anniversary of Corporal Lillard's death, the Mayor of Mexico is expected to read a proclamation on behalf of Lillard and his family.
Family members expected to be present are Charlotte Morrison, Corporal Lillard's great-great-granddaughter, as well as great-great-great-grandson James Hubbard, Detroit, Mich., who has been handling logistics of bringing together at least five siblings and other relatives. All are direct descendants of Lillard and his first wife, the former Rodie Tinsley, whom he married in slavery.
The journey to mark Corporal Lillard's remains was initiated in 2006 with research by Erik Thorson, Healdsburg, Calif., facilitated by the late Betty Brooks and Charles Boydstun of the Audrain Area Genealogical Society later joined by Wayne Sampson, Mexico, treasurer-quartermaster of the Elijah Gates Camp SCV. They were aided in placement of Corporal Lillard's official federal veteran's stone by Pat Farnen and Todd Yager of Arnold's Funeral Home and Chad Shoemaker, director of Mexico's Park and Recreation Department.
Walker Lillard was born in Anderson Co., Ky., March 10, 1838. Upon the death of slave holder Thomas Gaines, Lillard and his brother David were bequeathed in 1852 or 1853, to Gaines' daughter Rachel and her husband Abraham B. Tinsley of Audrain County, Mo.
Before the Civil War in 1861-65 Walker Lillard married another Tinsley slave, Rodie, who bore them a daughter, Ellen, in October 1865. Rodie's fate is unknown, but Ellen died in St. Louis in 1912.
Slaves in Missouri were technically unaffected by the Emancipation Proclamation, which applied only to states considered in rebellion (and as yet unoccupied by Union troops). However, in November 1863, Missouri was authorized to raise black regiments for Union service and those who enlisted were freed; loyal slave holders were compensated for loss of their slaves' service; those considered "disloyal" to the Union were not.
Thus on March 21, 1864, Walker and his brother David were enrolled in Mexico in the 4th Missouri Colored Infantry Regiment, later designated the 68th U.S. Colored Infantry. They mustered in at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, 16 days later. Walker was described as 26 years old, 6'1", with black eyes and black hair, his occupation "laborer."
During his service, the 68th USCT Infantry was engaged in skirmishes in Tennessee and Mississippi, was posted to New Orleans and Florida before being present at the surrender of Confederate forces including the famous Missouri Brigade at Fort Blakely, Ala. Various postings as occupation troops followed, at Mobile and Montgomery and in Texas. In an army in which there was no opportunity for blacks to serve as officers, Lillard performed his duties meritoriously enough to be promoted to corporal on Jan. 7, 1865. He finally mustered out on Feb. 5, 1866.
After the war, around 1870, Walker Lillard married his second wife, Harriet Baskit or Baskett, a former slave from Callaway County. 1880 census showing 7 children. Walker died in Mexico on April 25, 1908, and was buried in a unmarked grave in Elmwood Cemetery. A military stone was finially obtained and installed in November 2009 through the efforts of Audrain Co. Area Genealogical Society, and the Elijah Gates Camp.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
The following descendants of Corporal Lillard are expected at the ceremony:
GREAT-GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER: Charlotte Morrison (and husband)
GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GRANDSON: James Hubbard
GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTERS: Dianne Greenwood