Gridded paper with handwritten names, dates and counties.
Finding Manley McNitt: Hurricane Harvey and a Michigan Civil War Soldier
Kris Rzepczynski, Senior Archivist
Discoveries in the Archives
Hurricane Harvey smash into the in the Houston Texas metropolitan area in August 2017. In the days following the storm, inspiring stories of heroism, compassion and perseverance arose. One unfinished story involves a Michigan Civil War veteran from Hartford, Michigan, and two cemeteries in La Porte Texas.
A Michigan Civil War Veteran
Manley B. McNitt, born in Ohio in 1842, moved with his family to Hartford, Michigan around 1860. Manley enlisted in Company G of the 19th Michigan Infantry on August 11, 1862, at the age of 20.
Look at This
Here is a hand written entry of Manley McNitt's in Civil War descriptive rolls. These volumes are available for research at the Archives of Michigan in RG 59-14.
On March 5, 1863, McNitt sustained wounds during a scrimsh at Thompson’s Station, Tennessee. Afterwards confederate soliders overran his unit and captured McNitt. They sent him to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. After being released on March 30, 1863, he fought in the Atlanta Campaign. McNitt sustained wounds 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. There 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.
Look at This
Here is a photograph that shows men and a horse next to tents in front of Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia. McNitt enturned in this prison for a little less than a month.
A Displaced Headstone
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.
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