Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

Twombly's Burial Records

A copy of an original state records file from Des Moines, called the Armed Forces Graves Registration Record reveals that Twombly's remains were moved to Pittsburg from a prior location, since he died nearly 2 months before burial in Pittsburg Cemetery.

The deceased Civil War veteran and Van Buren County native, is listed as Voltair Paine Twombly, who was born February 21, 1842. He was inducted into the Armed Forces on May 1, 1861 at the age of 19 and was discharged July 12, 1865 at Louisville, Kentucky.

Mr. Twombly died in Des Moines. Typewritten on the form as the date of death, is February 24, 1918. The form also says that the place of burial is Pittsburg, Iowa in Van Buren County, in Van Buren Township and the name of the cemetery is Pittsburg. On the next line is a handwritten entry, which says that the date of burial was April 16, 1918.

It goes on to say that his father was Samuel Tuttle Twombly, his mother was Dorothy C. Wilder, his wife was Chloe A. Funk and his daughter was Mrs. C. W. Jeffries of Des Moines.

Since, according to the official record, he died in February and was buried in Pittsburg Cemetery in April, it seems logical that he was buried first in Des Moines and his remains were moved to Pittsburg. According to information in The Keosauqua Experience, 1989, there was some consideration of burial in Arlington National Cemetery, but his family chose to have his remains placed in Pittsburg near his friends and family members.

Although the Army Registration page gives his name as Voltair, the civil war military plaque honoring him and showing that he was a recipient of the Medal of Honor (which Maxine Hughes helped acquire for his grave), spells his name as Voltaire, which is in accord with other records. Floyd C. Bentzinger registered the entry for the Adjutant General's Office, therefore is responsible for typing the entry incorrectly.

What I haven't been able to find is where his body was kept between the time he died on February 24 and was buried at Pittsburg April 16. He must have been buried temporarily in one of the cemeteries in Des Moines, but this is inconclusive.

I thought it was very unusual for a man to die February 24 and not be buried until April 16. I could not and have not found any evidence of his being buried in a cemetery in Des Moines for the interim period.

Even though it was winter when the man died, it has not usually prevented burial. Somehow grave diggers manage to dig through the frozen sod in order for this to happen.

The only thing I found is in the transcript from the ceremony at the 150th anniversary celebration, where it was stated that his body was put in a holding vault because it was winter, and then was brought to Keosauqua by train in April for burial at Pittsburg.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick