High Desert Chapter
Green River, Wyoming
Building Teams Since 2003
The High Desert Chapter was organized in 2003. Daughters chose the chapter name, High Desert, to represent the area of Sweetwater County, the largest county in Wyoming, where the majority of chapter members live.
Due to the pandemic, Chapter meetings are held when possible. Our members focus on honoring our country’s veterans and researching local cemeteries.
The chapter is proud to have one Daughter serving as the State Librarian and one Daughter as a state committee chair.
About Green River
The town of Green River lies in Sweetwater County, and was one of the few towns along the Union Pacific railroad that existed prior to the railroad’s arrival. When the Union Pacific finally arrived, they found a town of about 2000 residents and permanent adobe buildings that incorporated in 1868 in what was then the Dakota Territory.
The town was originally created by “tie hacks” who cut timber in the mountains, floated the logs down the Green River, which flows nearby, then shaped them into rail ties at the town of Green River. The Union Pacific eventually established their division point at the town of Green River. The town was officially incorporated under the new laws of Wyoming on May 5, 1891.
The town of Green River annually hosts Flaming Gorge Days, a community festival called “Southwest Wyoming’s Weekend of FUN!”
HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROJECT
For many years Angela Cable has been documenting the graves in the Rock Springs Cemetery and posting them on the online site Find a Grave. There are 1,580 veterans buried in the Rock Springs Cemetery. Not only were pictures of the gravestones taken and their locations were documented, but Angela has spent many, many hours adding obituaries taken from microfilm at the Rock Springs Library. She paid close attention to their military status. Obituaries for military veterans will usually state that graveside military honors were given by the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
As a result, she identified 57 veteran graves that did not have a gravestone, and some of those did not have a record of the location of the grave. High Desert Chapter was also inspired by Tammy Mansfield of the Sheridan, Wyoming Chapter NSDAR who was the first DAR member in the state to get and place gravestones for the Sheridan Cemetery veterans as a family project.
For the April 20-21, 2018 Military Appreciation Days sponsored and held at the Western Wyoming Community College, the Rock Springs Historical Museum was asked to have a display honoring the military.
Angela was then an employee of the Museum and she and director Jennifer Messer created a display “Forgotten Heroes”.
The High Desert Chapter decided to pursue obtaining VA headstones for these veteran by enlisting community support including the Veterans Service Officer, Sam Esquibel to get the needed military service documentation and submit the applications; American Legion Post 24, especially Leonard Merrell, Doug Uhrig, and Blaine Slagowski, to receive and place the
stones; City of Rock Springs Cemetery Sexton, Chris Doak; Vase Funeral Home for funeral records; Rocket Miner newspaper for publishing a series of biographical articles about these veterans, Ann Jantz and Caleb Michael White, editors; SunRoc Cement for donating and poring the cement slabs; the Rock Springs Historical Museum: Jennifer Messer, Janice Brown, Angela Cable, and Richelle Rawlings; and all the genealogy researchers from the DAR: Gail Robinson, Judi Laughter, Joni Stainbrook, Crystal Deibner, Angela Cable and Betty Blackwell; and families of the Veterans living in France, California, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wyoming and other places via email and phone.
Why are gravestones so important?
Gravestones are a memorial to honor a loved one. They hold an important part in religious ceremonies and traditions. In early America, graveyards were next to the church building or on the family’s property. Families continue to decorate and remember their loved one at special times during the year for many years after their deaths.
They are also a source of much genealogical information and families can trace their ancestors back for many generations just by using information on the gravestones. The history of government headstones for soldiers started in the frontier days where post commanders buried their dead in cemetery plots within post reservations.
Sometimes the dead where buried right where their deaths occurred. Over time, the uniformed method of marking burials was a wooden board with a rounded top but there was no centralized system for recording burials. However, things changed during the Civil War and unit commanders were given blank books to enter the deaths and burials.
It wasn’t until 1873 that wooden boards gave way to marble or stone in national cemeteries. In 1879 the government provided gravestones for those buried in private cemeteries as well. In 1898 they decided that unmarked graves from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Indian Campaigns and the Spanish-American War could receive a marker.
Veterans Honored Served In:
Civil War 1861-1865
Spanish American War 1898-1904
World War I 1917-1918
Post World War I 1920-1940
World War II 1941-1945
Post World War II 1946-1949
Korean War 1950-1953
A book was completed in Summer 2020 entitled Forgotten Heroes and submitted to the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution for their genealogy library. These are a few biographies of the Veterans which are in the book which recognizes veterans from the Civil War, World War I and World II and the Korean War. The book has 112 pages and includes pictures and sources.
Judi Laughter with her Indian scrapbook for her presentation.
Walter Luther Ayers, Sr. and his son Walter L. Ayers, Jr.’s gravestones were placed as part of the Forgotten Heroes Project. They were one of four sets of father and son veterans whose gravestones have now been properly honored and recognized.