When a Bloomington man traced a War of 1812 veterans’ records to Mankato a few years ago, local history buff Dean Pettis was enlisted to help find the grave.
Pettis accompanied Arthur Finnell in his search of Glenwood Cemetery to find where William Don Paddock had been laid to rest.
Today marks the 200th anniversary of the day Congress declared that war existed between the United States and Great Britain. This declaration listed U.S. territories also as foes against the United Kingdom, Ireland and Britain’s dependencies.
So far this year, there have been only modest commemorations of this fight with Britain over trade restrictions, impressment of sailors and the Empire’s sponsorship of raids by Indians on U.S. soil.
Finnell was among those who paid homage to a veteran of “Mr. Madison’s War” who are buried in a Twin Cities cemetery.
“We placed a marker on an unmarked grave at Oaklawn,” Finnell said during a recent telephone interview.
Finnell first became interested in researching the “Second American Revolution” when he noticed a veteran’s grave at the Marshall cemetery where his father is buried.
“Thomas Hicks, died 1875” was engraved on the headstone.
“That was the first of many I located,” Finnell said.
He specially collects information and biological sketches of veterans who came to Minnesota. So far, he’s collected more than 200 names.
His interest in the veterans does not depend on which side they fought. Finnell has recorded information about men who served the British, who also were associated with the early fur industry.
The War of 1812 was fought at sea and on land. Standout events include the Battle of New Orleans and the city of Washington’s capture, in which the British Army torched the U.S. Capitol building.
The war did not lack historical significance. At its conclusion, the fledgling United States had established its place as a major force in the western world. Our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” had been penned after Francis Scott Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry.
For decades after that war, the southeastern section of what later became the 32nd state to join the union was frontier territory. Its open expanses were attractive to early settlers encouraged by land grants.
Finnell has discovered at least 16 veterans of the War of 1812 are buried in Blue Earth County. He added their names to a list, “Bicentennial Roster for Minnesota.”
Many of these veterans were pioneers who came to the area for cheap or free land after Bounty Land Legislation was passed in 1850.
A good deal of them received pensions from the government. They came to the area in pursuit of better lives for themselves. Many of the elderly were accompanying their adult children.
Finnell welcomes additions of information and names for the roster. Most of the men were born between 1780 and 1800, he said. He is especially interested in hearing about tombstones engraved with the words “War of 1812 Veteran.”
To track veterans’ graves, he uses information gleaned from contracts for land and from widows’ pension requests to Congress after legislation was enacted in 1870.
Finnell thinks his list is only partial, that there are more veterans to locate. He will willingly update with new data his publication, “Known War of 1812 Veterans Buried in Minnesota,” and encourages contact by people who frequent cemeteries, such as organizations who decorate graves for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
To contact Finnell, send an email to: PappaBearMN@gmail.com.