A Civil War celebration took place at Fairview Cemetery in Gaylord on Saturday June 19th. The last Civil War veteran buried in Otsego County, Samuel E. Qua (1844-1933), was honored with a commemorative headstone 88 years after his death.
The hour-long ceremony included the unveiling of the gravestone, the laying of a wreath and other symbolic items on the grave, the firing of three rifle rounds and the playing of Taps by a solitary bugle. The dedication service was adapted from the ritual of the Grand Army of the Republic of 1917 and included a detailed biography of Mr. Qua.
Those in attendance included uniformed members of VFW Post 1518 and auxiliaries from Gaylord, the Camp Grayling National Guard, sons of the Union of Civil War Veterans, local media and history buffs. Also in attendance were members of the extended Qua family including Stephen Qua, Paul Qua and his granddaughter Lynn (Qua) ââNothdruft.
So how did a New York Civil War veteran end up in Gaylord, Michigan? Samuel E Qua and his brother fought for the Union Army and received land in Paw Paw, Michigan. They brought three siblings and their parents to Michigan in 1867.
According to great-grandnephew Paul Qua, âThe Qua family came to Gaylord in 1882 and several generations of Qua / Quays have had an impact on the community. They cultivated the land west of Lake Otsego, operated a hardware store, grocery store, meat market, pharmacy, and several barber shops.
âThe Qua family lived in Gaylord during the winter and spent their summers near Idlewild on the west shore of Lake Otsego. Sam’s sister, Alice M Qua, purchased 90 acres of land west of Corey Cove there 100 years ago and his heirs are still spending the summer there, âconcluded the descendant of the honored person.
Marlene Hopp, Otsego County Veterans Duty Officer, was also in attendance at the June 19 event. She reflects on the meaning of the solemn occasion.
âI had the honor of being invited and celebrating the life story of Samuel E. Qua and his final home in Otsego County. Mr. Qua’s new gravestone is brilliant white and is beautiful for all to see now. I was amazed to hear about his business developments and his dedication to our community as an elected official from Otsego County. His accomplishments will be remembered forever. “
Why it matters: The Civil War was fought long ago and far away from Otsego County. In fact, the Civil War ended 10 years before Otsego County was established. However, the federal government gave Civil War veterans 160 acres of farmland as part of their compensation for their military service. Some of these veterans and their families eventually settled here in Otsego County. Like the Qua / Quay family, their descendants continue to be an important part of our community. Another important point is the importance of remembering and honoring all of our veterans, even when they are almost a century behind.
Phil Alexander is a member of the History Matters Detective Team. History Matters is a collaborative effort of the Otsego County Historical Society, Gaylord Community Schools, Otsego County Library, Otsego County Commission on Aging, RSVP, Kirtland University Gaylord Center, the Otsego Community Foundation and the Gaylord Regional Council for the Arts.