HELENA — The Benton Avenue Cemetery is the final resting place for 52 veterans. It is unknown where exactly two of them are buried, and a third was in an unmarked grave, until this past Saturday.
Albert E. Haskell’s final resting place is now marked with a white granite headstone, thanks to the generosity of people who never knew him.
“I didn’t know it was going to be that grand,” Benton Avenue Cemetery Association secretary treasurer Tom Pearson said. “I asked for a reproduction of a Civil War tombstone.”
Haskell served in the 106th New York Infantry with the Union in the Civil War. Pearson has done a lot of research into Haskell’s life, and he found Haskell was wounded in battle, was a prisoner of war, and ended up in Helena with his parents after the war. Haskell died in 1898 in a hunting accident.
“I love doing research,” Pearson said.
Pearson’s research also revealed that Haskell was buried in an unmarked grave next to his parents.
“(He was) the only veteran who I knew where he’s buried who had nothing,” Pearson said.
Pearson spearheaded the effort to mark Haskell’s grave, and the community pitched in to make it happen. Montana Granite made the headstone and donated $500, other people chipped in through last year’s Greater Helena Gives campaign, and Pearson said a member of Helena’s E. Clampus Vitus chapter donated the final $250 to cover the entire $1,750 project.
According to the Helena chapter’s website, E. Campus Vitus is a group dedicated to preserving western history. Pearson got involved with the group after they began helping out at the cemetery.
The group held a flag raising ceremony at the Benton Avenue Cemetery on Saturday, prior to the unveiling of Haskell’s gravestone.
“I appreciate the interest of the Helena people,” Pearson said. “My gosh, we had a pretty good turnout today.”
A good turnout to pay respects and mark the final resting place of a veteran who died more than 100 years ago.