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Men of Honor Junior Cadets group seeks funds for Civil War veteran headstones in Painesville

News-Herald - 11/7/2022

Nov. 7—A local group of boys will start a fundraiser on Nov. 11 for two Civil War veterans who are buried without headstones in Painesville'sEvergreen Cemetery.

The Junior Cadets is a group for boys ages 5-17 that is associated with the Men of Honor Social Club, said Men of Honor co-founder Ed Jones. They are seeking to raise $2,500 for the two headstones and intend to hold a headstone-placement ceremony on or near Memorial Day, May 29, 2023.

According to the city of Painesville's "Cemetery History" web page, Edward Whiten served during the Civil War in Company H, 29th United States Regiment, Colored Troops, while Charles Eledge served in Company C, 101st United States Infantry. They are the only two Black Civil War veterans in the cemetery.

Club member Mike Swank noted that the idea started during a Junior Cadet history tour at Evergreen Cemetery, when the boys realized there were no headstones to recognize the two veterans.

"They fought in the Civil War. They kind of deserve to be noticed, deserve to have a grave," said Junior Cadet Carter Swank, who noted that both men lived near one another on West Jackson Street in Painesville.

Jones said, "They came here specifically for the Medal of Honor recipient, because that's a big deal with our club is Medal of Honors and veterans and those types of things. And they just stumbled across the fact that these two African American Civil War vets didn't have headstones, which is insane to me."

He added that Jim Belding Monuments, located in Madison Township, is working with the group to create headstones for the veterans.

Swank noted that the group is also working with Steve Waite, funeral home director at Jakubs-Waite Funeral Home in Eastlake, to construct bronze plaques for the headstones.

He added that he has spoken to a great-great-granddaughter of Eledge's who currently lives in California.

"She's just as excited about this as we are and has the same questions that we have," Swank said, noting that information on the veterans has been difficult to come across.

Jones said in an email that he and six friends began Men of Honor in November 2020, with the group's mission statement being to "gather in fellowship, support our communities, and develop the next generation of men through mentoring and scholarship." During that time, the group has provided post-secondary education scholarships for five local men. Group members want to focus especially on men who have grown up in single-parent households.

The group's Junior Cadets have existed for about a year, said Junior Cadets leader John Jaros. In addition to history tours and the headstone fundraiser, he said that the group members have learned how to start fires in rough conditions, fish and camp. They have also practiced at a boxing gym and picked up garbage at the Riverside High School football stadium.

Jones said that individuals interested in learning more about Men of Honor or contributing to the headstone campaign can visit the group's Facebook page at or send an email to A direct donation link is available at

He added that the group will match the first $1,000 donated.

"Unfortunately, these men were just not given their respect that they were due," Swank said, adding, "We're all human beings, and those that contribute to our society I think deserve recognition."

"They fought for our country and we're thankful for them," Jaros added.


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