Special to The Gardner News
A gravesite along a lonely hedge row near Edgerton marks the final resting place of a Civil War Union soldier.
William Chilton’s grave sits three miles southeast of Edgerton, near 223rd St. and Spoon Creek Road. His wife Nancy’s final resting place is there also.
The Civil War had been raging for more than a year when Chilton enlisted on July 29, 1862. He was 54 years old. William Chilton was a Civil War soldier, a private in the 14th Regiment of the Kansas Volunteer Cavalry.
Records about Chilton’s service as a Union soldier aren’t entirely clear, though historical documents indicate Chilton took part in the Camden Expedition in April 1864. Union forces were to march through Arkansas to Shreveport, La., and join with another expedition. There, the two forces would join and move to Texas.
The expedition didn’t go as planned. The two sets of Union forces never joined, and Chilton was injured when his horse stumbled and fell. Chilton was sent to Ft. Scott, Kan., to recover. Nancy Chilton’s brother, Daniel Ramey, was also a part of the Camden Expedition. Ramey belonged to the 12th Kansas regiment, while Chilton belonged to the 14th Kansas.
The regiment saw action primarily in eastern Kansas, western Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Chilton’s regiment was involved in several noted Civil War battles including the Battle of Westport, Mo., the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, Ark., the Battle of Mine Creek, Kan., and the Battle of Poison Spring, Ark.
At the Battle of Pine Bluff, Ark., Chilton’s calvary unit was dismounted and used as infantry. Records aren’t clear in which of those battles Chilton fought.
Though his grave sits beside a quiet country road, it is still maintained.
According to Chilton family descendant Louise Collins, Wellsville, a resident who lives nearby takes care of the gravesite and keeps it maintained.
The site has also drawn visitors recently.
Colby Auckland, Oakwood, Ga.,great-great-great grandson of William and Nancy, heard about their gravesite as a young boy, but didn’t actually see it until July of 2014, when he visited it with his grandmother Florine Bendixsen. Bendixen is a cousin of Collins.
Auckland is a Civil War re-enactor, looking forward to a week-long re-enactment of the Camden Expedition near Washington, Ark. The re-enactment will occur in June, and Auckland said he is excited to retrace the footsteps of his ancestor, Chilton.
The 14th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry was formed in the spring of 1863 in Fort Scott, Kan.
The 14th Kansas disbanded on August 20, 1865, after the Civil War had officially ended, losing four officers and 165 enlisted men.
William Chilton returned to his farm near Edgerton to live out the rest of his life with his wife and children.
He was born in 1809 in Tennessee. He moved to Missouri in 1844. He married his first wife, Martha Moreland, on May 1, 1844 in Van Buren County, Mo. He and Martha, who died in 1861, had several children.
He married Nancy Ramey, of Surry County, N.C., on Sept. 30, 1863, in Douglas County, Kan., and they made their home near Antioch, Kan., on the land where their gravesite sits today.
William and Nancy Chilton had three children together, Elijah Daniel, born in 1863, an infant who died, and Richard Britton, born in 1871.
The Chiltons planted a long hedge row on their property, including a corner of four hedge trees to mark what they wanted to be their final resting place.
In 1976, during the construction of Miami County Road 223, all of the hedge row was removed, with the exception of one, which still stands today at the southwest corner of the Chilton gravesite.
William Chilton died on Feb. 28, 1878, and was buried at the roadside family plot he and his wife had previously picked out. His wife Nancy, died on March 3, 1892 and lies beside her husband.
After William Chiltons death, the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans association no longer in existence, placed a headstone at his gravesite. The cement, curve-topped marker reads, “Wm. Chilton, Co. F, 14th Kan. Cav.”
At some point after Nancy’s death, a small marker reading, “Died 1892 Wife Nancy Chilton,” was placed at her grave.
A road in Wellsville, Chilton Avenue, is named for their grandson, Henry Chilton.
More information and photos of the Chiltons can be found at the Franklin County Research and Records Center in Ottawa.
The gravesite of Union Civil War soldier William Chilton and his wife Nancy serve as a connection to the past. And it also serves as a tribute to two local pioneers whose final resting place beside a lonely road, and a gnarled hedge tree older than the graves themselves, on the same land they homesteaded, is a sacred and honored testament to their place in local history and lore.
Civil War veteran laid to rest on land homesteaded near Edgerton