Skip to main content

The world watched as Hurricane Harvey smashed into the Houston, Texas metropolitan area in August 2017. In the days following the storm, there were stories inspiring heroism, compassion and perseverance. One unfinished story concerns a Michigan Civil War veteran from Hartford, Michigan, and two cemeteries in La Porte Texas.

Manley B. McNitt, was born in Ohio in 1842 and moved with his family to Hartford around 1860 Manley enlisted in Company G of the 19th Michigan Infantry on August 11, 1862, at the age of 20. He was wounded in action at Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, on March 5, 1863, when his regiment was overrun and captured. McNitt was sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. After being released on March 30, 1863, he fought in the Atlanta Campaign and was wounded again at the Battle of Resaca on May 15, 1864. After the Civil War, McNitt briefly returned to Sandusky County, Ohio, before moving out west to Red Cloud, Nebraska where he married Antoinette Munsell in 1873. Around 1893, McNitt moved to Harris County, Texas. He died August 27, 1915 and was buried in La Porte, Texas.

More than 100 years after Manley McNitt’s burial, Hurricane Harvey unleashed 58 inches of rain with Category-4 winds on the town of La Porte and flooded the Houston metropolitan area. During the fierce storm, McNitt’s headstone washed away. It turned up at a house near the home of United States Air Force veteran Kevin Lewis. Lewis took on the quest to return the headstone to its proper location. He asked the Archives of Michigan to help identify the veteran and his gravesite. Archives staff located McNitt’s war record and researched his post-war life and death, but determining the exact location of his gravesite proved difficult.

The available records for La Porte Cemetery suggest that Manley McNitt was not buried there, but at the private Cedarhurst Cemetery in La Porte. Sexton’s records or burial registers have not been located for Cedarhurst Cemetery, and the private burial ground has not been well maintained through the years. Pictures taken a few years before Hurricane Harvey show a cemetery overrun by nature. As of this writing, the headstone of this Michigan Civil War veteran is still waiting to be reinstalled at Cedarhurst Cemetery.

This article was originally published in the Summer/Fall 2018 issue of TRACE, the Archives of Michigan Magazine.

A square, flat tombstone with the name Corpl. Manley B. McNitt and the dates March 17 1842-Aug 27 1915
Headstone of Manley B. McNitt, [courtesy of Kevin Lewis, La Porte].

Have you made a discovery of your own at the Archives of Michigan?

Share it with us!

If you've made an exciting breakthrough in your own research at the Archives of Michigan, we want to hear about it - it could even be featured on our blog!

Adult woman and two young girls smile and laugh while paging through historic documents laid out on a wood table.