Soldier’s gravesite restored after 141 years of neglect

On Aug. 23, 1877, 2nd U.S. Calvary Trooper Samuel Glass succumbed to wounds he received from the Battle of Camas Meadows in Idaho which involved the U.S. Army and the Nez Perce Tribe. He died outside of Spencer, Idaho, and was buried on a small knoll. After 141 years of neglect, Glass’ gravesite had endured deterioration and vandalism – the headstone had been hit with a bullet.

A $5,000 restoration of Glass’ gravesite was recently undertaken and a rededication ceremony was held Sept. 15. Several community members organized the restoration of the gravesite, including American Legion National Executive Committeeman Robert Skinner of Idaho, along with members from his American Legion Post 56 in Idaho Falls, and Army veteran Jay Hill.   

The project involved clearing plant growth; removing the old fence and replacing it with a steel one; enlarging the size of the gravesite; adding more dirt, gravel and plants; installing a flag pole; and replacing Glass’ headstone. The American Legion was instrumental in acquiring and installing the new headstone that Skinner received from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Construction was made possible with support from donations from local companies and hands-on efforts from community members and youth, including Boys Scout Troop 262 of Blackfoot, Idaho. Austin Bitsoi received his Eagle Scout award for helping with this project.

“There were kids involved in every aspect of this project,” Skinner told the East Idaho News. “Not any of them had heard about the history. Few, if any, had ever been associated with the death of a military person. Passing on the message of respecting our veterans and honoring those who died for our freedoms – that was important to me.”

The rededication ceremony involved rifle detail, a chaplain and bugler, flag raising and flag detail by Post 56 members.