More than a century later, a Civil War Union soldier will receive a headstone
FARMINGTON — Not many people remember Lewis Allinger, who moved to the Cedar Hill area around the turn of the last century and briefly owned a hotel in Aztec prior to his death in 1908.
His grave is marked only by a small metal marker and a stake with the American Legion symbol used for holding American flags.
That American Legion stake alerted the American Legion Post 9 to the fact that a veteran was buried there — and had been buried for 111 years without a headstone.
The American Legion Post 9 of Aztec plans to change that this weekend when it installs an official Civil War veteran headstone at his grave in the Aztec Cemetery.
Post historian Dale Rutledge said that, based on the dates on the metal marker, the American Legion knew Allinger could have been a Civil War veteran.
“He served his country and he’s been lying there with no recognition that he was a veteran,” Rutledge said.
Rutledge learned through research — including reaching out to one of Allinger’s descendants — that Allinger served in the Union ranks during the Civil War. He was born in 1832 in Buffalo, New York to German immigrants.
His wife had died before he moved to New Mexico and he had hoped to have his body eventually relocated to the cemetery in Mount Vernon, New York, to be buried beside her, according to an article that ran nearly 111 years ago in the Durango Democrat.
When he died of acute pneumonia on Oct. 20, 1908, Allinger’s two surviving sons were not living in the area. The Durango Democrat stated one of his sons, W.T. Allinger, was residing in Texas at the time. Former soldiers as well as his friends accompanied his body to the cemetery following the funeral service on Oct. 22, 1908.
While the American Legion has been in contact with Allinger’s descendants, none of them live near Aztec and they will not be able to attend the ceremony honoring the Civil War veteran.
The marble headstone that will be placed at his grave will have his unit engraved onto it. Allinger enlisted in the 15th New York Artillery Regiment on Jan. 20, 1864 and was mustered out on June 7, 1865. Prior to enlisting in the 15th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment, he served as a member of the Company A of the 6th New York Infantry. The Durango Democrat stated that he participated in 16 battles during the Civil War.
Allinger fought in several bloody battles with what became the 15th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment including an unsuccessful attempt to take Petersburg, Virginia from Confederate forces and the Appomattox campaign — which ultimately took Petersburg and ended with Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendering. During the time he was in the regiment, 81 enlisted men and two officers were killed in action, while 67 men and six officers died of wounds they received in battle. Five officers and 183 men in the regiment went missing in action in 1864 and 1865.
The article reported Allinger moved to San Juan County in 1902 and owned a ranch in Cedar Hill.
While he owned land in Cedar Hill, he sold his property in 1906 and purchased an Aztec hotel later that year for $2,000, according to the San Juan County Index archives.
The article in the Durango Democrat said he owned the old Baker hotel as well as a building that in 1908 housed a restaurant run by a woman identified as Mrs. Jarrett.
Rutledge will read Allinger’s biography during a ceremony starting at 10 a.m. on Oct. 12 at the Aztec Cemetery, 700 Chamisa Ave. Following the ceremony, there will be a reception at the Aztec Senior Center.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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