Kay Stepp of North Bethlehem Township, Pa., stands at the grave of a Civil War veteran that will receive new honors.
SCENERY HILL, Pa. – A small group of Civil War buffs will honor a member of Washington County’s famed Ringgold Cavalry by placing a bronze plaque at his grave.
Members of Camp 120, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, will place the memorial at 10 a.m. Saturday at the North Bethlehem Township grave of Pvt. James N. Wheeler. He is buried in the Letherman-Tombaugh Cemetery.
The cavalry of 70 men formed July 14, 1847, in Monongahela, Pa., to assist the Pennsylvania Militia in the Mexican War. The soldiers continued to drill after that war, but were initially denied service in the Civil War by the Union Army because they were too old. Members of the company persisted, and eventually went on to great acclaim as some of the toughest fighters in the Civil War.
Wheeler’s small and fading tombstone was located in the aging cemetery on Letherman Bridge Road by his great-grandson, Carl Bowers of Washington, a member of Camp 120.
“The permanent marker, it’s going to last forever,” said Kay Stepp, 73, a club member who visited the grave Thursday. “That one will not last,” he said, pointing to the tiny tombstone that marks Wheeler’s grave.
Camp 120 existed in Washington County in the early 1900s, but went on to disband, Stepp said.
He and a few history descendants of Civil War soldiers reopened the club’s charter a few years ago.
Stepp’s great-great-grandfather, Arthamer Ames, also served alongside Wheeler in the Pennsylvania 22nd Cavalry after the Ringgold was absorbed into that regiment.
“They were the first Pennsylvania cavalry to enter the war,” Stepp said.
Members of his club have adopted the abandoned Salem Methodist Cemetery in West Finley Township, and they meet there regularly to mow the grass.
They also have placed two similar plaques on graves in that cemetery of Civil War veterans. The government-issue markers are provided to them at no charge.