The Stars and Stripes whip in the wind in front of the grave of William E. Harvey, a Civil War veteran buried in Steamboat Springs Cemetery. Kentucky librarians say evidence indicates William E. Harvey was not a Confederate soldier and likely fought for the Union.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

The Stars and Stripes whip in the wind in front of the grave of William E. Harvey, a Civil War veteran buried in Steamboat Springs Cemetery. Kentucky librarians say evidence indicates William E. Harvey was not a Confederate soldier and likely fought for the Union.

Soldier likely fought for Union, not Confederacy

Routt County resident buried in Steamboat Springs Cemetery



The obituary for William E. Harvey, as it appeared in the Sept. 30, 1914, edition of the Steamboat Pilot.

Memorial Day events

■ Steamboat Springs

Saturday: Army physical fitness test at 9:30 a.m. at Emerald Park. The event is free, but donations for the American Legion are accepted. The test is two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a 2-mile run. Event organizer Tina Kyprios said participants don’t have to complete all three portions. The test is meant to raise awareness for soldiers serving our country.

Monday: Coffee and doughnuts at 8 a.m. at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4264, 924 Lincoln Ave.; ceremony practice at 9 a.m. at Steamboat Springs Cemetery; shuttle service to cemetery begins at 9:45 a.m. at Stock Bridge Transit Center; Memorial Day ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at cemetery.

■ Hayden

Friday: Placing of flags at Hayden Cemetery, 6 p.m.

Monday: Memorial Day ceremony, 6 p.m. at Hayden Cemetery, with 21-gun salute, flag lowering and presentation for citizens; public reception and meal at the Benjamin J. Hofstetter American Legion Post 89, on Third Street in Hayden, after the ceremony

■ Yampa

Monday: Memorial Day ceremony, 11 a.m. at the Yampa Cemetery, with traditional bugling and reading of names of veterans buried at the cemetery.

Coming Sunday

This year’s Memorial Day ceremony at Steamboat Springs Cemetery focuses on the military service of women with local ties. Read some of their stories in Sunday’s Steamboat Pilot & Today or online Sunday at

— Century-old census records and federal Civil War soldier lists indicate that William E. Harvey, who is buried at Steamboat Springs Cemetery at a grave where local veterans planned to place a Confederate flag on Thursday, likely fought for the Union.

In response to a compilation of data by University of Kentucky librarians, local veterans instead placed a U.S. flag at Harvey’s grave Thursday evening, rather than the orange-and-blue battle flag that represents the Confederate States of America and had spurred local debate this week given the flag’s controversial place in the nation’s history and ties to civil rights and segregation issues.

“We’ll put a U.S. flag on his grave, you bet,” said Jim Stanko, a leader of Steamboat Springs’ annual Memorial Day ceremonies and a cemetery board member, Thursday afternoon before the flag-placing activities.

“We’re not going to put a Confederate flag on a Yankee.”

During a recent compilation of obituaries and articles documenting Routt County military service, local veterans found an archived newspaper article that quoted Routt County pioneer Clay Monson calling “Ol’ Bear Bill” Harvey — a rancher whose headstone says he killed 56 bears in Routt County — “an ex-Confederate soldier.”

That discovery led to a Monday announcement to the Routt County Board of Commissioners, by Stanko and local veteran Harmon “Buck” Buckland, about their intentions to place a Confederate flag on Harvey’s grave.

“He was a veteran, he fought, he was a soldier, and I think he needs to be recognized for doing that,” Stanko said about Harvey on Tuesday.

But little about Harvey’s history was known, and research Thursday indicates a different story.

Kate Black and Reinette Jones, faculty librarians in the University of Kentucky Library’s Special Collections Department, voluntarily spent much of Thursday combing through 1910 and 1900 U.S. Census records, the 1861 to 1865 U.S. Civil War Soldiers List, an 1890 Veterans Schedule and other historical documents. The search came after a Steamboat Pilot & Today request based on the university library’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Exhibition, on display through October, and Harvey’s Kentucky origins.

Black said that while William E. Harvey, and especially William Harvey, is a common name — and many of the records are handwritten, leading to possible misinterpretations — they repeatedly found evidence and documentation of a volunteer soldier from Kentucky who matched the name, demographic profile and history of the William E. Harvey lying at peace in Steamboat Springs Cemetery. That soldier fought for the Union, 2nd Regiment Kentucky Cavalry, Company A.

“We can’t be sure, but I think all the evidence points very strongly to this man being a Union soldier,” Black said. “We checked Confederate rolls, too, and we never found any hint of him.”

From war to peace

Black said records state a William E. Harvey from Kentucky’s Grant County area joined the Union on Aug. 6, 1861, and likely was discharged March 21, 1864. He served two years, seven months and 15 days in the bloodiest war in America’s history.

“He went in as a corporal and came out as a private, which is interesting,” Black noted. She said Jones described a situation of leaving military service with a lesser rank as “not unusual.” Black also mentioned Kentucky’s contentious climate during that period.

“Kentucky was very divided in the Civil War,” she said. “We were a border state, and there were people who were in the Confederacy and people who were in the Union.”

Black said the 1890 Veterans Schedule notes that Harvey incurred a disability during the war by suffering a gunshot wound.

“It looks like loss of left leg,” Black said, reading a handwritten document that, she speculated, could say “left eye” rather than “left leg.”

The librarians tracked records for William E. Harvey to Colorado, where he appears as a Routt County resident on U.S. Census records from 1900 and 1910. Also within that timeframe, Black said, a William Edwin Harvey appears on a document filed in Denver, at 1757 Stout St. The document is file R6988 in the Civil War Pension Index. The R likely stands for Routt.

“We think it’s an application for a pension,” Black said.

She noted that a gunshot wound would coincide with a pension application, as would census data that states the William E. Harvey living in Routt County filed revenues as “own income.”

Black said she and Jones found some of Harvey’s likely historical records through, a subscription-based genealogy website. She said other documents, and much of the data found at that website, are accessed through the National Park Service, which maintains a Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database.

That database reveals 307 results for a search of “William Harvey.” But it shows only six results for a search of “William Harvey” narrowed to Kentucky, which is listed as the birthplace of William E. Harvey in a Steamboat Pilot obituary published Sept. 30, 1914, three days after his death.

Of those six results, only one is for William E. Harvey. That soldier, according to the National Park Service, fought for the Union, 2nd Regiment, Kentucky Cavalry.

Service records for that regiment indicate — if all the uncertain historical stars align — that William E. Harvey could have fought in several battles, including the Battle of Shiloh on April 6 to 8, 1862.

That Union victory in Tennessee, under commanders including Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, turned away a surprise attack by Confederate troops and drove them into Mississippi.

But the full truth of Harvey’s life may never be known. His 1914 obituary listed only two living relatives, a nephew in Texas and a niece in Missouri. He was unmarried when he died.

The Steamboat Cemetery was busy Thursday evening, as Boy Scouts, veterans and others walked from one grave to another, placing flags. Participants in the upcoming Memorial Day ceremony drilled in preparation.

And a rancher, bear hunter and likely soldier named William E. Harvey, nearly 100 years after his death, got an honorable new decoration on his grave.


babette dickson 5 years, 11 months ago

Mr Stanko needs a tutor to learn how to do home works?... I should have thought about it! Thanks to the Pilot for doing home work for him/


babette dickson 5 years, 11 months ago

Ooops forgot to enter grades: Mr Stanko: F; Pilot: A+


jerry carlton 5 years, 11 months ago

Have you ever been to a Memorial day service at the Steamboat cemetary? Have you ever served in the Armed Forces like Jim and Buck? Have you ever organized a Memorial day service? There are 23,000 people in this county more deserving of having rocks thrown at them than Jim Stanko.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 11 months ago

Well, it is not easy being a historian, but "Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence" and before proposing doing something as controversial as for the first time putting a Confederate Flag on a person's grave they should have cross checked a newly found comment against Civil War records.

I note that on the other thread that local PKBaldwin posted yesterday of that he served in the Kentucky 2nd Cavalry and many of the other details.

A lesson here would also seem to be that we have good local resources. Maybe the histories of other people buried there could be developed by combining the local records which Mr Stanko seems to have access with the information that others can find quickly elsewhere.


1999 5 years, 11 months ago

dispite my comments in the other thread I do appreciate Mr. Sankos efforts to make sure all vets are honored.

Thank you!

see ya monday!


CharlieEL 5 years, 11 months ago

I am glad that the issue was settled to the satisfaction of all. I must point out that the Confederate flag is not orange and blue as suggested by this reporter. I am amazed at the childish comments of babette dickson and appreciate the comments of 1999 as the issue all along, whether Confederate or Union, was to honor veterans. God bless all of those who served, fought and died in uniform. Remember the real resaon for the holiday Monday.


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 11 months ago

Exactly right, Charlie and 1999. The real reason is to honor, and pay respect to the women and men who gave their lives in defense of our country. Solemn reflection is the order of the day.


murphysmom 5 years, 11 months ago

This is William Edward Harvey b. 04 Feb 1839 in Madison County, Kentucky, USA. He was the 6th child of 13 born to William Harvey b. 10 Oct 1808 Richmond, Madison, KY; d. 17 Mar 1885 Meadville, Linn, MO; and Martha Patience Gates b. 10 Mar 1809 near Richmond and the James River, Chesterfield Co., Virginia.; d. 20 Sep 1873 Meadville, Linn, MO. William and Martha were married 15 Oct 1829 in Madison Co., KY.

Siblings of William Edward Harvey were: James Epps Harvey 1830-1902, Nancy Jane Harvey 1832-1908, Cynthia Patience Harvey 1834-1907, Rebecca Ann Gates Harvey 1835-1870, Susan Margaret "Meg" Harvey 1832-1925, Martha Mildred Harvey 1841- 1913, Mary Ellen Harvey 1842 -1901, George Andrew Harvey 1845-1933, Bernetta "Betty" Harvey 1847-1886, Sarah Catherine Harvey 1849-1866, Elizabeth Norris Harvey 1851- 1937, and a baby girl Harvey b. 1853-1853.

He was a Union Soldier, mustering in as a Corporal, and mustering out as a Private. He was never married. There are at least 4 trees on that feature this William Edward Harvey.


murphysmom 5 years, 11 months ago

P.S. As verification; the obituary for William E. Harvey states that he had a nephew; L.O. Harvey of Texas.

L.O. was Louis Owen Harvey b. 1869 Meadville, Linn, MO, d. 1921 Dallas, Dallas, TX. "L.O." was the son of William's brother, George Andrew Harvey and his wife Cornelia Josephine Jacques. This relationship verifies that this is without a doubt the right family for the William Edward Harvey in this article.


murphysmom 5 years, 11 months ago

Copy of Military Record:

Name: William E. Harvey Side: Union Regiment State/Origin: Kentucky Regiment Name: 2 Kentucky Cavalry Regiment Name Expanded: 2nd Regiment, Kentucky Cavalry Company: A Rank In: Corporal Rank In Expanded: Corporal Rank Out: Private Rank Out Expanded: Private Film Number: M386 roll 12


jerry carlton 5 years, 11 months ago

murphysmom You seem to very much know what you are doing with genealogy. May I suggest that you contact Jim Stanko and offer your services if he ever wants to trace the history of another veteran.


murphysmom 5 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Jerry, Will do. I have been doing researching and genealogy for 6 years almost daily as a hobby. It's fun to put families back together!

Cheryl Hack Steamboat


babette dickson 5 years, 11 months ago

Hey Charlie, derision is a great tool to defuse... I am amazed at your childish comment..... Stanko did not realize the impact of his hasty decision and my heart was pounding in memory of great friends for whom the Confederate flag represented oppression. Stanko does a lot in and for the valley, is politically engaged. I do appreciate everything about him.... except "that"! I particularly respect him for what he does every Memorial day. Thinking of my husband whose time release bomb named "agent orange" killed him... I love derision Charlie!


mavis 5 years, 11 months ago

Babette... your comments are disgusting... I realize your personal issues take a place here... but really people like Mr Stanko do an AMAZING jog on actually educating our children on ag business, military issues and what it means to be an honorary member of society which many do NOT understand anymore. My heart breaks for you and you are strong.... but too often you are too fast to attack the foundation of what allows you and your children to experience the freedom and services you all obtain to grow and maintain in this community.
You really need to start showing some appreciation for heritage in this valley and I am so gratefull that you do not teach American History. I hope you can start embracing the valley and understanding that you recieve a lot from it and that we are tryng to help you at the same time so you need to respect the history here.


babette dickson 5 years, 11 months ago

mavis... i love history and i am happy not to teach it. Indeed it would be very challenging to show impartiality due to my character. What i expressed on this blog regarding this issue is definitively subjective because my in laws ARE African-American, my late mom-in-law WAS one of the first respected black teacher of her time, and I heard what the family went through. The symbolism this flag carries has always been controversial and will remain this way. As far as our story, I maintain it was an error of judgment and it's ok to make a mistake. It does not take anything away from Stanko, on the contrary, it shows we, I, care about what he does with his fellows. I am grateful our vets take upon this mission because I would be able to do it. I know as well if Mac was still alive, he would visit to Mr Stanko and would express his "disgust". He would be 62 today and he was not compromising with this type of case.


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