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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Ezekiel Cutting died nearly 161 years ago.
And now a stone has been placed in the St. John’s Lutheran Popple Creek Cemetery for him and a military funeral will be held Sunday, September 10, at 11 a.m.
Ezekiel Chapin Cutting grew up on the Cutting farm in Popple Creek in the Town of Grant and then went off with his brothers and an uncle to serve in the Civil War, said Gary Cutting, a great-great nephew of Ezekiel’s.
The brothers and the uncle came home from the Civil War, but Ezekiel was killed on November 4, 1862, in Helena, Arkansas, he said.
Ezekiel was the son of John Francis and Sally Chapin Cutting, pioneers who came from Ostego County in New York. He was the brother of Francis Henry, Hiram Porter and William Cutting, and he was the nephew of Henry Porter Cutting.
Henry was raised in New Hampshire, and after he served in the Civil War, he came to the Cutting farm in Popple Creek.
Francis served and then returned to raise a family in Bloomer.
Hiram was captured by the Confederacy and escaped to return home to Wisconsin and to raise his family as the heir to the Cutting farm.
Hiram was Gary Cutting’s grandfather.
William died as a child.
The Union Army planned to bury Ezekiel and other Civil War veterans in Memphis, Tennessee, Cutting said.
The bodies were put into pine box caskets, and their names were written on the pine boxes in chalk. A few of the veterans’ names may also have not been known, so there were may have been some of the caskets with no names, he said.
Unfortunately, on the way to Memphis, there was rain, and the rain washed off the names written in chalk on the caskets, so no one knew the identities of the veterans. They were all buried in unmarked graves, Cutting said.
When Gary Cutting was growing up on the Cutting farm, he heard stories of the Civil War from his uncles, grandparents and other relatives and found a few artifacts, including a military sword and some photographs.
A cousin of Gary Cutting’s travelled to Memphis to find the grave of their relative, Ezekiel, but could not find it.
Memphis National Cemetery, located in northeast Memphis, is administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, covers 44.2 acres, and has more than 42,000 interments.
Gary and his cousin then started doing more research about their uncle, Ezekiel, and eventually discovered he was buried in an unmarked grave.
Over the years, Gary had talked with his uncle, Grant Cutting, about Ezekiel, and two years ago, they decided Ezekiel should have a monument at the Popple Creek Cemetery and a military funeral.
Grant Cutting passed away last November, but Gary Cutting and his cousin still worked toward the goal and arranged for the cemetery marker and the military funeral.
Gary’s great-great-grandparents, John and Sally Cutting, homesteaded the farm in Popple Creek in 1862.
Sally Cutting was the first person buried in the Popple Creek Cemetery, Gary Cutting said.
Hiram and Tilla (Tweed) Cutting’s son, Wallace, inherited the farm.
Wallace Cutting, age 84, died in a fire at the Cutting farm on December 30, 2017.
Gary Cutting then inherited the Cutting farm.
The Popple Creek Cemetery is 150 years old this year.
The May 24, 1973, edition of the Colfax Messenger included a story on the Popple Creek Cemetery’s 100th year.
The following is from the Colfax Messenger:
“It was in the 1860s when the first settlers began to inhabit the valley along the Red Cedar River from the mouth of Popple Creek and up. The Lafayette Deans, Van Woert brothers, Tom and Lancing, John Cutting, the Ludvig Krauses, Snyders, Dahls and Weavers were there too, the La Forges and Madisons among others.
“As their members were laid to rest, for the first 10 years or so, family burial plots were scattered around the community. Those early settlers recognized the need for a cemetery for everyone to have the use of located in one place: and the 2 1/2 acres on the hilltop were obtained from Sam Dahl in 1873. The first person to be interred here was Sally Cutting, even before the cemetery was officially platted …”
“A century produces many memories as many of the folks who came here over the years could testify. Clymer Sherwood is remembered as the Civil War veteran who hiked the 4 or 5 miles to clear brush with a pick and axe and shovel. He made it a spot to be proud of, and it was his money that went for band instruments used in the Memorial Day Parade.
“Led by the older soldiers, the younger ones, following up in the rear, and trailing along behind them the children, and Cly himself limping along under the weight of a big drum. He would camp here at night, or stay over with the Snyders, Joneses, La Forges, Dyers, or Madisons, returning to work the next day. Old photos show a long line of paraders with Louis, gathering wildflowers to place after they traveled to the cemetery to place on the soldiers’ graves …”
“It was in 1939 that Reuben Cutting began mowing (the cemetery), and with the death of his father, Hiram A. Cutting in 1954, Reuben was appointed to the (cemetery) Board of Directors to fill his father’s place. Both capacities he filled until his death, December 8, 1972. He spent many hours of hard work, keeping the cemetery beautiful and gradually improving it a good bit without charge, and it became a special interest to him. Memorial Day was of great importance when the cemetery became a spot to be visited once a year.
“From one generation to the other come incidents told, and re-told. One Memorial Day, Mr. Dearborn came to the cemetery with a little white pine tree in his pocket. Saying he could not afford a marker, he planted the tree on the grave of his wife. The tree now standing is the one the annual programs have been held beneath for many years. To date a very lasting and living monument in her memory …
“A (cemetery) association was officially formed in 1928 or 1929 and perpetual care was then begun.”