JONESPORT, Maine — An East Machias Civil War hero whose remains have lain in an unmarked grave in Jonesport for 86 years finally will get his due recognition Saturday when a new gravestone will be commemorated, tribute to his service will be paid, and his descendants will receive a flag.
William Wallace Clark was an 18-year-old seaman when he enlisted in February 1864 at Machias as a private to fight in the Civil War. He was wounded twice at the Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, Va. One musket ball shattered his arm and a second pierced his side, where it remained all his life.
Thanks to some detective work, detailed genealogy records and a persistent historian at Jonesport, Clark will be honored at his resting place at Richardson Cemetery by local veterans, the U.S. Coast Guard Honor Guard, the State of Maine Honor Guard and area residents.
“This is a wonderful ending to this story,” Donnie Woodard, president of the Jonesport Historical Society, said Monday.
The mystery began when Linda Harvey, a descendant of the Donovan family of East Machias and a member of the Jonesport Historical Society, was researching her family tree. She discovered she was related to Clark and his wife, Lucy Helen Huntley.
She asked Woodard to check his files for their graves, having information that they both were buried in Jonesport.
Woodard has painstakingly compiled maps and documentation for more than 4,000 graves in Jonesport and Beals.
“I found his wife, Lucy, but not him,” Woodard said. But the records Harvey had indicated Clark was buried in Jonesport, so Woodard began putting two and two together.
“Lucy was buried in a large plot, and it is very clear that there were two large depressions there. We have determined that he is buried next to her, in an unmarked grave,” Woodard said.
The feeling is that Clark put the gravestone on his wife’s resting place when she died in 1902. He was a schooner captain out of Jonesport then, but as he aged, he became infirm and impoverished.
Woodard said Clark went to live with his son at Corea and died in June 1924. Upon Clark’s death, the U.S. War Department granted the son’s request for help with paying Clark’s burial expenses.
“But the family probably didn’t have enough money for a stone,” Woodard said.
Clark was laid to rest in an unmarked grave next to his wife.
The Jonesport Historical Society arranged for a stone from Veterans Affairs and paid for repairs to Lucy Helen Huntley’s broken monument.
A celebration and tribute will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 31, at the Richardson Cemetery at Jonesport.
For those who want to attend, take Route 187 to downtown Jonesport. Turn onto the road one house up from the pizza parlor toward the water. About 100 feet in is a four-way intersection. Continue straight on the paved way, and the cemetery is directly ahead.
Overflow parking will be available at Bangor Savings Bank, behind the post office and at the former Head Start building, all on Main Street.