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January 18, 2013

County pioneer’s gravesite desecrated

Volunteer suspects vandals behind fading engraving

His headstone states he was “honest, brave and patriotic.”

Not that any of that’s legible anymore, however, as a nearly 175-year-old gravestone in Logansport appears to have become a target for vandalism.

Gen. Walter Wilson was buried in 1838 near what is now the Harry R. Huston Sports Complex and Nature Preserve. The text on the over 10-foot-high monolith that marks his grave site appears to have been chipped away by some kind of tool.

Jeff Spicer, a retired archaeologist and member of the Cass County Historical Society, volunteers his time to help maintain the plot. He said he first noticed the chipping on the face of the monument about a year ago.

“Who does this to a gravestone?” he said. “It’s just frustrating.”

Spicer dismissed the notion that the monument’s decreasing legibility could have something to do with the fact that it’s nearing a bicentennial, saying that he’s noticed a significant increase in damage over the last few weeks.

“It just riles me that someone’s been taking stone and chipping off information.”

According to an essay available at the Cass County Historical Society written by Richard B. Copeland, Wilson was one of the first farmers in present-day Cass County. Before settling in the area, Wilson fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe against Shawnee warriors opposing the expansion of American settlers.

“He’s just as prominent in Cass County history as Lewis Cass and General John Tipton,” Spicer said.

There are seven other gravestones in the plot, which belong to Wilson’s wife and children. Walter Wilson’s is the only one that has appeared to be purposefully damaged.

Spicer said he’s currently working with the Cass County Roosters and the Logansport Parks Department to put a fence around the cemetery, adding that he is looking for volunteers to help out with the project.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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