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There won’t be any parades, marching bands or fireworks at the abandoned pioneer graveyard in the countryside just south of Montrose. But one of Minnesota’s long forgotten defenders of freedom will be remembered for the first time in decades this Independence Day.
Thanks to the dedication of the American Legion Charles Claussens Post 305 in Waverly, Civil War veteran Private Ezra M. Stacy will be honored every day for his service to his country. The campaign to retake the overgrown cemetery on a hilltop along Highway 25 was covered by The Drummer.
Said John Peterson, “The whole place was overgrown with weeds, brush, dead trees and limbs, and some trash. We didn’t find any relatives of mine, but we did notice the grave of veteran Ezra M. Stacy.”
At the next Waverly American Legion meeting, Peterson told the group what they had found. “Ken Borrell is our legion commander,” said Peterson. “Ken and the other Waverly American Legion members at that meeting agreed that we needed to get together and clean it up, if for any other reason than the cemetery contained the grave of a deceased veteran.”
Stacy was a young farmer who homesteaded south of Montrose before enlisting in the Army in 1864.
He was a private in Company B of the 4th Regiment Minnesota Infantry. He fought under Gen. William T. Sherman on the March to the Sea from November 15 to December 10, 1864, finished the war during the Carolinas Campaign from January to April, 1865, and then participated in the Grand Review of the Armies on May 24, 1865, in Washington, D.C. After Ezra was mustered out and discharged on August 7, 1865, he returned home to Wright County.
The 32 year old veteran made it back home from the Civil War only to perish in an accident with a threshing machine a few months later. He was the first person to be interred in the cemetery, leaving behind a wife and two young sons. His gravestone was obtained from the War Department in 1939, but eventually was overgrown, along with the graves of 32 other pioneers.
Today Stacy’s headstone stands out from the rest, shiny and polished with a American flag waving in the breeze that flows from the nearby fields where he worked the land and lost his life.