Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Known but to God" Historical Marker Destroyed

Photograph by Forest McDermott, for HMdb.org
On KY Rt. 80, near Elkhorn City, in the Breaks Interstate Park, a historical highway sign marks the gravesite of an unknown Confederate soldier who is "Known But To God." In May of 1865, the soldier, who was on his way home after the close of the Civil War, was struck down by unknown assailants and killed. Four men of the community, namely Henry and George Potter, Zeke Counts and Lazarus Hunt, fashioned a coffin for the soldier, made of boards rived from a great oak in which he was buried at the spot where he had died. The Potter family kept the soldier's cap and watch in hopes to be able to give them to family members in search of their loved one. Sadly, nobody ever came to look for him. Years after, the keepsakes were lost in a fire. In 1900, a rose bush was planted at the gravesite by Harve Potter and in more recent years a historical highway marker was placed in order to keep the memory of this unknown soldier alive.

Photograph by Forest McDermott, for HMdb.org
Sadly,147 years later, another senseless act of violence was committed at this very site. On Saturday, November 3, 2012, unknown persons destroyed the historical marker. Park rangers had passed the site at 8 a.m. in the morning, with the marker in place. Upon their return at 9 a.m., the damaged site was discovered. Not only was the marker missing, but the four posts surrounding it had been struck down with force. A search by law enforcement later turned up the marker which is damaged beyond repair and can not be reused.

Damaged site, Nov. 3, 2012
Photograph by Nina Aragon
The incident is being investigated by Kentucky State Police. At this point, the persons responsible are still at large. Anyone with information, please contact Pikeville Post 9, Kentucky State Police.

Fund raising efforts are on the way to help pay for a replacement marker. An account with the Community Trust Bank in Elkhorn City, called the Unkown Soldiers Highway Fund, has been set up. Please consider contributing for this worthy cause.

Make checks or money orders payable to
Unkown Soldiers Highway Fund

Mail to
Community Trust Bank
P. O. Box 740, Elkhorn City, KY, 41522

Flag placed on the site by members of the Potter family.
Photograph by Bill Williams
In closing, I'd like to say that this whole situation is more than heart-wrenching. Why such an act would be committed at the grave site of a soldier, or anyone, for that matter, is beyond comprehension. The utter disrespect for a man's final resting place is shocking, especially in this day and age when we consider ourselves more "enlightened" and "educated" than those who walked before us. Seems that some of us still have a great deal to learn.

Links of Interest
Unknown Soldier's Marker Found, but Damaged
Published on Nov 5, 2012 by EastKYBroadcasting

Unknown Confederate Soldier
By David Chaltas and Richard G. Brown

Historical Marker data base (HMdb) listing of the site

Find A Grave listing

1 comment:

  1. Marlitta, Thank you for the article and for everything you do for the 14th. Being a descendent of William and Charles Barrett of the 14th, I really appreciate the fact that somebody cares enough to give us a history of their Civil War activities.

    James Barrett