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  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

What a Headstone Told Me About Its Resident, Aaron Burr Walker

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

by Gordon Thorsby



I was once looking to start understanding my ancestry and it began in the Wildwood Cemetery about two miles west of downtown Chesaning. It is located on the Shiawassee River and a current population of almost 2,400. The oldest part of the 1860 cemetery lies on a plateau above the river and where it is said there has been an eagle nest. I did not see one on my last visit.

In this quiet place, rests over 83 graves of veterans from the Civil War. The markers are very simple. For one of these markers, there rests one man named Aaron Burr Walker. It is located just ten feet off the circle dirt road in the section. His marker provides the basic information about the man as a soldier. Other than the regiment information, we might know no more about Aaron. Weather and time wears the lettering on the stone until one day we will only know that someone lies there.

Aaron was in Co. D of the 136th NY Infantry. That’s it. To know more, I researched a little

further. With him in his company were Henry Harrison and William Lyman Blakeslee, also Privates. They wore the larger slouch campaign hats and their regiment were called the ironclads with many common railroad men. They would go on to fight for the duration. Aaron was wounded in the right elbow on July 3, 1863 in skirmishing at Gettysburg. He recovered and was promoted to Corporal. They went west in the Fall and the regiment was part of the Georgia campaign where all three were wounded at the battle of Resaca, Georgia with Sherman's Army. Aaron was in too serious condition and could not be part of Sherman's March through Georgia.

After the war, Aaron, William and Henry migrated to Chesaning around the 1867 timeframe.

from Bliss, Wyoming County, NY (near Buffalo). Aaron's brother, O.F., was already a resident

carpenter in the town of around 600 people. Aaron became the veterinarian of the town and also the town dentist... and had a boarding stable just off Broad Street. Henry and Bill, big on music, opened a Music Store but their day-to-day business were as farmers. Henry went on to marry Clarissa Walker, Aaron's and O.F.'s sister and they all became in-laws. Aaron went on to marry as did O.F. and O.F.'s carpentry business included coffins and that evolved into the funeral business that is there today.


Today, Aaron rests in the plot next to Henry and Clarissa on the other side. The Walker plot is about forty yards away that includes Aaron's wife Adelia (called Delia.) Where is William Blakeslee? He is buried across the blacktop road and the story behind all of locations has invited new questions that may never be answered.


How does one seek a family history of their ancestors? If possible, start with a headstone. You never know where it might lead.

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