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Civil War vet to be honored

| Thursday, June 22, 2006

Jim and Dave Haggerty's five-year project is coming to an end on Saturday when their great-great-grandfather finally will receive military recognition for his service in the Civil War.

Jim started 15 years ago looking into his family history. About five years ago, Jim and Dave started to dig deeper into John Haggerty's life.

"He was born in Ireland in 1842 and through different records I found out that he caught the tail end of the Civil War, serving on (an) ironclad ship, the U.S.S. Carondelet" on the Mississippi River, Jim said.

As the brothers continued their research, they discovered John Haggerty had been buried in the Sacred Heart Cemetery, along with his wife, Margaret, his daughter, Margaret, and his son, Francis.

The brothers soon made a trip to the cemetery in search of their ancestors. After searching for several hours, they could not find headstones for any of the family.

To the brothers, that was not acceptable -- especially for a Civil War veteran.

At that point, Jim started on a mission. He was determined to get a grave marker for John Haggerty to recognize his military service.

With the help of a local funeral director, Vito C. Martucci, the family obtained a government bronze plaque, a death certificate and a copy of John Haggerty's application for pension after the Civil War.

They located a map of the Sacred Heart Cemetery from the Connellsville Historical Society. A friend of the family who conducted forestry work went to locate the four corners of the grave lot.

A footer was dug for a stone and plaque, which was designed by family friend Steve Conko.

This Saturday, that bronze marker will be placed on the grave of John Haggerty.

A special military memorial ceremony is being planned for 11 a.m. at the cemetery in Dickerson Run.

"The main reason my brother and I wanted to do this is because we're veterans and we don't think any veterans' grave lots should go unrecognized," he said.

Don Burkholder, a member of the American Legion Post 301 and president of the Connellsville Veterans Commission, has arranged Saturday's ceremony.

"Most of the veterans and those who deal with these ceremonies -- we're all kind of history buffs, and when the opportunity arose to do this for a Civil War veteran, we jumped on the chance," Burkholder said.

The ceremony will include the presentation of colors by the American Legion posts and Veterans of Foreign War organizations, which are members of the Connellsville Veterans Commission.

Burkholder has contacted the Navy recruiter in Uniontown to see if a Navy flag can be presented during the ceremony. He also has contacted some local Civil War re-enactors, who plan on taking place in the ceremony.

"We're hoping the first volley of the 21-gun salute will be shot with muskets by the re-enactors, and then the second and third volleys will be fired by our normal (honor guard)," Burkholder said.

The Rev. Marvin Watson will speak.

All participants will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at the American Legion Post 301 parking lot before going to the Sacred Heart Cemetery.

"It's been a long haul," Jim said. "We put an awful lot of effort in to pulling all this information together."

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