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Civil War veteran honored in Gouverneur

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GOUVERNEUR — Linda W. Krol stood in the cold, misty rain Monday in Old St. James Cemetery as a team of veterans dedicated a gravestone she recently acquired for her great-great-grandfather, Civil War veteran Patrick Shea.

“I’m just thrilled,” she said. “I’m just speechless about this.”

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, village officials and other descendants of Mr. Shea took part in the ceremony.

“Just think how miserable things were when he enlisted; think of the bloodshed,” said Mayor Ronald P. McDougall, the keynote speaker. “We should never forget.”

The remembrance was an emotional one for Mrs. Krol, Waddington, who had always been intrigued by the Civil War and her ancestor’s role in it.

Mrs. Krol, a part-time consultant with the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services and a former teacher, said she and her husband, John C., former Ogdensburg city manager and former interim Watertown city manager, researched Mr. Shea and learned he had died in Ogdensburg in 1914, but was taken by train for burial in Gouverneur, where he had lived with his wife, Johanna Browne Shea, and four daughters.

“We came here and we couldn’t find a stone,” Mrs. Krol said. “To get a headstone from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you have to go to military records to prove his service.”

After she did that, it took a year for the stone to arrive and be set at the cemetery.

“Now, we can be sure that Patrick’s bravery and commitment to the United States of America will forever be remembered,” Mrs. Krol said.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War provided the military salute.

“The march of this soldier is over,” said Jeffrey I. French, secretary and treasurer of Walter H. French Camp 17. “Let us cherish him as a patriot.”

Mrs. Krol showed her grandchildren a certificate signed by President Barack Obama that honors the memory of Mr. Shea and recognizes his service.

Mr. Shea was born in Cahersiveen, County Kerry, Ireland, in 1836. His mother died when he was 2. At the age of 13, he and his father, Daniel, sailed on a steamship to America.

Before the war, Mr. Shea worked on the newly constructed Watertown and Potsdam Railroad. He was the baggage man and brakeman on the first train that ran from Gouverneur to Watertown in 1856.

In 1861, he volunteered to be a soldier in the Union Army. He served two years in Company F, 24th NY Infantry Regiment and was captured in the second Battle of Bull Run. He later was released and re-enlisted in 1863 with Company F, 15th NY Cavalry Regiment and was at Appomattox when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered.

“Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been interested,” Mrs. Krol said. “I want to pass that same love of history to my grandchildren.”

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