Retired school teacher Paul LaRue was a featured speaker at a recent event that helped to memorialize “Civil War Colored Troops” with the addition of 107 names, following work from his research history class while teaching at Washington High School.
The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument – which memorializes the 9,000 American veterans who represented Cuyahoga County in the Civil War – is proud to announce the addition of 107 United States Colored Troops (USCT) to its Roll of Honor. USCT regiments were composed primarily of African-American soldiers, although Caucasians and members of other minority groups also served with the units.
Located on Cleveland’s Public Square and dedicated nearly 125 years ago on July 4, 1894, the monument currently includes the names of 22 USCT veterans whose names were confirmed as part of the 1889 process that verified veterans from Cuyahoga County. Names have also been added over the years based on historical research and confirmation that has been set forth by the Monument Commission. Historical documentary evidence required to place all of the names that deserve to be included on the monument was simply not available in the 1890s.
The significant addition to the monument’s Roll of Honor is the result of nearly 20 years of painstaking historical research and verification work using modern methods. It began in 2002 with high school history teacher LaRue and his advanced placement history class students. One of the class’s projects involved research on seven USCT veterans buried in a Washington Court House cemetery. Their work led to new government-issued military headstones to be installed on the graves, rightfully honoring those who fought for our country.
This success led the class to continue its research on burials of other USCT veterans within the State of Ohio. Their work came to the attention of the Governor’s office, which issued an executive order to provide copies of Ohio Civil War enlistment records to the class. As the class continued its work, the names of several veterans from Cuyahoga County were uncovered.
Jerry Young – a monument volunteer at the time (and now a commissioner of the monument) – learned of the class’s work in 2009. LaRue graciously offered the use of the microfilmed records to the monument for continued research, and the monument formed a committee for this work. For nearly a decade, Young; committee chair Jon Silvis, and executive director Tim Daley have conducted extensive research on behalf of the Monument Commission that has included fact-checking, verification and re-verification.
The ceremony LaRue spoke at was the culmination of the many years of hard work and dedication of an educator, his students, the monument’s historians and commission, the State of Ohio and Cuyahoga County.
“Today we add the names of 107 American heroes to their rightful place on the Roll of Honor of the Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument,” LaRue said during the event.
The information in this article was provided by local historian Paul LaRue.