After a leisurely start on the day, my first stop was just a few blocks from my hotel - the Oakwood Cemetery. In 1886, a portion of Oakwood Cemetery was purchased by Civil War veterans who came to Parsons as settlers after the war and named it the Antietam Circle.
There are two adjacent Antietam Circles. Both contain Civil War graves. Circle #2 also has an American flag, cast iron gate, and four copper statues. Circle #1 has two 8 inch Columbiad cannons and a 28 foot tall concrete rotunda which was constructed in 1905.
hree hundred seventy-five American Civil War veterans who came to Parsons as settlers after the war are buried in a special section which they bought in 1886
Oakwood Cemetery opened on June 1,1872. The original tract
of 20 acres was given to the City by the Parsons Town Company
The Grand Army of the Republic, Antietam Post No. 64 was organized on June 2, 1882 by Civil War Veterans living in Parsons. Over 500 names were on the rolls.
They selected Antietam for the name of their post in memory of the Battle of Antietam fought on September 17, 1862 on the banks of the Potomac River. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Although the South won the battle, the tribute in naming the post Antietam was in memory of their lost comrades.
In May of 1886 the Antietam Post bought a portion of block 37, including lots 13 through 18 for circle number one. The original flag staff was placed in circle number one in 1887. It had stood at the intersection of 18th and Broadway in Parsons.
Circle number two was created in 1889 with the purchase of Lots 7 through 21 of Block 38.
Prior to 1905 nearly $3,000 had been spent on circle number one and two. They were both enclosed with cut sandstone, coping and cap-stones. The two 8-inch Columbiad Cannons were a gift from the war department in 1898 and were placed in circle number one the same year. They weigh 9,250 pounds each.
On March 1, 1905, a half-mill tax was levied on all taxable property in Labette County for the years 1905 and 1906. The proceeds were to be applied to improvements of the G.A.R. burial grounds.
The concrete rotunda in circle number one was constructed in 1905 and stands twenty-eight feet in height. It is surrounded by a pyramid of cannon balls and an eagle.
In 1907 the concrete abutments were added to circle number two. The flagstaff was moved to the circle at that time. In 1911 the bronze statues were placed in circle number two. They were made by the W.H. Mullens Company of Salem, Ohio. The cast iron archway at circle number two was erected in 1913 and donated by the Ladies of the G.A.R. In 1921 the Sons of Veterans donated the memorial to the Unknown Soldier.
On November 11,1911 the gateway to Oakwood was dedicated. The cast iron gateway was a donation of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) The Parsons chapter was also responsible for starting the movement for perpetual care at Oakwood
copyright 2010-2011 by Keith Stokes