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Veterans buried in unmarked graves in Davenport's City Cemetery identified

The Davenport City Cemetery has new headstones for two Civil War veterans who were previously unidentified, thanks to the research of a group of volunteers.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Two Quad City veterans received some long-overdue recognition on Saturday.

For more than 100 years, Stephen van Fleet and Johann "Gustav" Krusch were buried in an unmarked grave at City Cemetery in Davenport. Thanks to the work of a group of volunteer researchers, the two Civil War veterans were identified.

Two new headstones were installed at the cemetery with their names on them, and the veterans were honored on Memorial Day weekend.

"All the stories are unique," said Natalie Woodhurst, a member of the board of the Davenport City Cemetery Partnership. "All their histories are great, and being able to extend that memorialization is great and just making sure that they have that stone, that they have the place that they are recognized and they won't be forgotten."

Sgt. Timothy Cromer is a Marine veteran. His grandmother, Jane, helped research the veterans.

"If they didn't do this, then nobody would. It would be history that's lost, and there were some incredible stories that came out of that," he said. "To honor those veterans, recent veterans and distant, past veterans such as these two is very important. And I think it's part of honoring our history as America."

He spoke during the cemetery's Memorial Day event on Saturday to share some of van Fleet and Krusch's stories. Krusch was a member of the 5th Iowa Cavalry Regiment. He was German-born and joined the Union in 1861, four years after moving to Fort Madison, Iowa.

"He ended up being wounded in battle, was shot with a musket ball through his side, and then was taken as a prisoner (of war) in Andersonville," Cromer said. "After those nine months, he was terribly emaciated and near death, and only lived about two months after he returned home before he died, just two days before his son's birthday."

van Fleet was with the 37th Iowa Infantry.

"He actually was a member of the Graybeards, which was a regiment that was started during the war to prove that men older than the highest age that when they were allowed to serve, were still willing to fight," Cromer said. "Stephen van Fleet was 60."

In 2017, volunteers identified 21 veterans buried at City Cemetery without headstones.

The headstones were provided by the U.S. Veterans Administration.

Around 100 veterans are buried in the cemetery.


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