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Patriot Graves—Discovering a California Town’s Civil War Heritage

Arroyo Grande, California historian, Jim Gregory spent years researching the lives of 52 Civil War veterans who settled in Arroyo Grande in the years following the war. The culmination of Gregory’s exhaustive research is his just released book, Patriot Graves—Discovering a California Town’s Civil War Heritage.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Gregory as he shares tales of the Civil War veterans’ who settled in the seaside town of Arroyo Grande.  

Gregory says, Bela Clinton Ide was just one of four Arroyo Grande settlers who, as young men, fought at Gettysburg.

Another veteran of that battle, Erastus Fouch, left behind a diary that has been incorporated into Patriot Graves.

When Ide died in 1923, he was remembered in a local obituary for his kindness. “He was the friend to every man, woman and child,” the Arroyo Grande Herald-Recorder commented.

Similarly, when Antietam and Chancellorsville veteran Richard P. Merrill died in 1909, he was the grammar school custodian for the two-story Victorian schoolhouse that once stood on the site of what is today a Ford agency. 

On the day of Merrill’s funeral, classes let out at noon so the students could attend his funeral. “Mr. Merrill was a great favorite with the children,” the Herald-Recorder reported.  

Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
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