Soldier, Farmer, Husband, Father
In 1830 Virginia, James Battles was born, presumably a slave. At some point he made his way northward and settled in New York along a stop on the Underground Railroad and eventually enlisting in the 102nd Colored Infantry. Little more is known of Mr. Battles, but after the war he and his wife settled on a truck farm near 5 Corners just south of Newaygo, where he was known for raising quality melons, and his obituary described him as "blessed with a kindly disposition."
For reasons unknown, Mr. Battles was buried without a headstone or marker, even though one would have been available to him from the government at no charge because of his military service. In the fall of 2005, Sandy Peavey and Terry Wantz took on the task of correcting this, and in January 2006, a stone was delivered to Sandy's office at the Fremont District Library. The stone was dedicated on May 27, 2006, in a reenactment of the same service that would have been performed for a G.A.R. veteran in 1913. Participating were members of the General John A. Logan Camp No. 1, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Champlin Corps No. 41 Women's Relief Corps, and the Daughters of the Union Vets Eva Grey Tent No. 2. Most of the images shown below were taken at this time.
Of particular importance is the first image in the gallery, taken at the actual funeral. Although there are only a few men in attendance, they show the respect of one old soldier to another. This is significant because, in 1913, the KKK was an extremely active and powerful force in the area. These men showed great courage in paying homage to their comrade, and deserve our respect as well.