In Oxford, Ohio, at the Woodside Cemetery, a plain headstone had served as the grave marker for 30 black civil war soldiers for 99 years. The original marker was put in place in 1914 by the Women’s Relief Corps, which disbanded before they could finish the job. Eight of the soldiers buried at Woodside were from the John Brown Post 450, which had been formed in 1884. The final soldier of the unit died in 1938. The men were banned from being buried in the white cemetery with the other veterans. The Women’s Relief Corps was an auxiliary to the John Brown Post 450 of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Last year, the Sons of the Union Veterans, the Smith Regional Library of Local History and the Oxford Chapter of the NAACP came together to complete the project during the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. In a small ceremony, the family of the eight soldiers from John Brown Post 450 read their biographies. Those soldiers were: Martin Baylor, Alexander Churchman, George Johnson, George Poston, Thomas Rockhold, Henry Russell, Wesley Stephenson and John Thompson.
The final dedication to the soldiers was completed this past weekend and the black soldiers’ grave marker was finally completed in another ceremony where the plaque was presented to the city of Oxford.