Norma Stillings and her son, Dan, decorated graves at the Bragg, Denny, and Burdett Cemeteries, Saturday afternoon. Then Monday, she, Dan, and her friend, Bobbye Priddy attended the Veterans Memorial Service at the Ava Cemetery. Norma and Dan drove out to the Mt. Tabor Cemetery later.
When you see the names on the stones, it brings back memories. Norma’s Bragg and Brixey families had lived on Cow Skin Creek before the Civil War. Norma’s great-great grandfather John Brixey and great-great grandfather Thomas C. Bragg both enlisted in the Webster County Home Guards. Vols. Co. B. on June 10, 1861.
Norma’s sister, Melva Lupton, had gotten records from the National Archives in Washington DC about both of these men. Mary Brixey had filed for a widow’s pension and Thomas Bragg had filed for an Invalid Pension
The Pension Claim of John Brixey’s widow, Mary Cardwell Brixey, states that he “was taken sick at ‘Rolly Mo’ on or about 1 of October 1861 while on duty…” He had become sick with a lung disease that was said to be due to exposure. Her claim stated that he had come home in November 1861 and that he “lay sick nearly all the time” until the 1 day of June 1864 when he died. He left Mary with six children, the eldest of which was 13 years old. The claim was filed in 1891. By that time all the children were grown.
Records show that Thomas C. Bragg had enrolled in the 3d Regiment Missouri Volunteers for service in the Mexican War on September 7, 1846, and was Honorably discharged September 29 that same year at Fort Leavenworth. Civil War records show that Thomas was later given the rank of Captain in the Webster County Home Guards, but when he enlisted on August 20, 1861 in the 24th Reg’t Inf. Vols, at Rolla, he was a private. The claim states that on February 28, 1863 while the Regiment was being transported from Pilot Knob to St. Louis on the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad the train was wrecked. He was thrown from the car on which he was riding and “rendered insensible” for some time. His injuries resulted in several stays at various hospitals and he was only able to do light camp duty until he was mustered out at St. Louis on October 14, 1864. He never really got over the injuries and when he was in his 60’s he was not able to do the heavy manual labor that was part of farming. He received a pension of $12 receiving the last payment May 4, 1896 before his death.
We think about how so many of our American soldiers have died on battlefields, but that is not the only way that men were killed or injured. Even today many deaths and injuries occur while our servicemen and women are on duty from roadside bombs, vehicle accidents, etc. Widows still have it hard and when soldiers get old, those old injuries become more difficult to deal with. We do want to remember those who fell in service, but we don’t want to forget all those who survived with permanent injuries.