Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
				Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.

Private Simon S. West Memorial Service and Dedication

Warrensville, Ohio

May 31, 2008


Private Simon S. West
Company M, 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment
(United States Volunteers)

Photos submitted by Ms. Sandi Craighead through Ms. Glenda McWhirter Todd

While researching the 16 or so black soldiers who served in the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment, United States Volunteers, Glenda McWhirter Todd ordered the Civil War pension records of the ones who filed for a pension, including Samuel Simon West who was an Undercook and Teamster, and found he was buried in Highland Park Cemetery in Warrensville, near Cleveland, Ohio, and after contacting the director of the cemetery, she found his grave had not been marked. Ms. Todd completed the form to order West a Union Tombstone from the government, forwarded it to Mr. David Mitchell, director of Highland Park Cemetery, who signed off on it and forwarded it to the government. Mr. Mitchell had the tombstone erected as soon as it arrived and Glenda M. Todd immediately began planning for a Memorial/Dedication Service at the grave site of Mr. West by contacting Mr. Bennie McRae, Civil War Historian with emphasis on the USCT. Mr. McRae contacted Mr. Frederick Smith with the US Colored Troops Re-enactors and he was able to put together a wonderful Memorial Service for Mr. West on 31 May 2008.

Mr. West's tombstone was draped with a black cloth. The Color Guard consisted of Boy Scout Troop 812 of the North Coast Ranger Academy, who paraded to the site of the black veiled tombstone marking the grave of Private Samuel Simon West, 1st Alabama Cavalry, USV, Company M, followed by the United States Colored Troops Reenactors.

Mr. West's obituary was read by Glenda M. Todd's dear friend, Sandi Craighead, long time Civil War and Family Historian from Cleveland, Ohio, and his military history supplied by Ms. Todd was read by Steffon Jones. Following a prayer, the re-enactors fired several rounds in salute. Mr. Fred Smith then removed the black veil from the tombstone, hats were removed as "Taps" were sounded in the background.

Others who participated in the ceremony were: Captain Luther Norman, Boy Scouts of America, Cleveland, Ohio; Steffon Jones, Civil War Historian, Youngstown, Ohio; Bertram Floyd, Military Miniature Creation, Sheffield, Ohio; Dale Henry, Civil War Re-enactor, Springfield, Ohio; and Frederick Smith, Civil War Re-enactor, Youngstown, Ohio.

It is with pride and much research that this Civil War Soldier has finally been recognized for his part in fighting for our country during this horrific war, and his resting place truly deserves to be marked and made known to all. I would like to thank those who were instrumental in planning and carrying out this memorial service, without whose help, it would have been impossible: Bennie McRae, Frederick Smith, and all other re-enactors, Boy Scouts, etc. along with and Mr. David Mitchell, Director of Highland Park Cemetery where Mr. West is buried. I would be remiss if I didn't also thank my dear friends, Juanita Patience Moss, who is writing the great Book, "Forgotten Black Soldiers in White Regiments During the Civil War", which will be published soon by Heritage Books in Maryland, and Sandi Craighead of Cleveland, Ohio who helped me research this soldier and other black soldiers in this regiment. Sandi has been researching her family as well as Civil War Soldiers for over 30 years and stated she was always told there were no black soldiers enlisted in the Union Army. She was surprised to find the ones who fought for the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USV, and has helped me immensely researching these soldiers.

It was my hope that after perusing several census records of this West family that I could find a living relative to be present at the service but that didn't happen. I would still like to contact some of Samuel Simon West's family if he has any living.

Glenda McWhirter Todd
1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment
United States Volunteers

Category: Events | Subcategory: Dedications | Tags: Civil War , Resting Places , Company M , 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 2008, AL, Alabama, Cavalry, Civil War, Cleveland (Ohio), Maryland, Ohio,