Eagan man investigates Le Sueur's Civil War veterans - Le Sueur MN: News

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Eagan man investigates Le Sueur's Civil War veterans

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Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:52 pm | Updated: 3:58 pm, Wed Jan 23, 2013.

Ken Flies wanted to make sure that every Civil War veteran had an adequate headstone.

Two of the men who Flies deemed were buried without an appropriate marker have ties to Le Sueur, John Roberts and Henry Vasterling.

“A lot of burial sites are poorly recorded and a lot of veterans’ stones were in poor condition. I wanted to record the burial sites of all Civil War soldiers. I want to give them dignity by having their sites properly recorded. They deserve that,” Flies, who lives in Eagan, said.

Flies went through county and city records all across Minnesota to find the grave sites of the men killed in the war. Sometimes those records were inaccurate, including misinformation or the names of the soldiers were confused with their relatives. He used $100,000 in funding from Gov. Mark Dayton’s Civil War Commemoration Task Force to replace the soldiers’ headstones.

Flies might not have a background in the military himself, but it was an important part of his family life.

“I had six brothers involved in the war in Vietnam. I also have family members that were generals in the Civil War and the War of 1812. My main interest in Civil War veterans is because both of my mother’s grandfathers died in the Civil War. Also, General Sumner is a distant relative of mine.”

Roberts enlisted in the Army on Aug. 19, 1862 as a second lieutenant in Blue Earth County. He was commissioned in the E Company in the Minnesota Ninth Infantry. Roberts was wounded in the battle of Nashville on Dec. 14, 1864 and later died on Jan. 4, 1865. Roberts is buried in Elim Cemetary in Le Sueur County. Fellow soldiers pooled their money to bring him back home. This was very difficult to do because there weren’t any trains in Minnesota and roads were hard to travel on.

Vasterling enlisted in the Army on Sep. 28, 1962 in in Le Sueur as a corporal. He was a part of Company G in the Minnesota Tenth Infantry. Vasterling’s father was a doctor in Le Sueur and owned a significant amount of land. Vasterling is buried in Mound Cemetary in Le Sueur.

Flies has specific reasons why he has gone through so much to get more information on Civil War veterans and for them to have a proper gravestone.

“So many Civil War men’s burial sites have gone missing and unrecorded. We have forgotten about these men. If we’re going to let them be forgotten, what happens to men in World War I and World War II? Do we forget about those men too? The reason I’m doing it to give men dignity and respect and to have their names properly recorded,” Flies said.

Reach reporter Austin Erickson at 507-931-8576, or follow him on Twitter.com @LNH_AErickson.

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