Grove Header- White.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Syracuse Civil War Veteran Gets Proper Honor

This past weekend Oakwood Cemetery honored Civil War veteran James Jameson. He was born in Syracuse in 1837, ran away from home at age 11, learned to cut hair and opened his first barbershop at the age of 16.

In 1863 he enlisted in the Union Army as a part of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. The famed Black regiment was led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, whose story was depicted in the 1989 film Glory starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.

Jameson was famously apart of the Battle of Fort Wagner with the 54th. As a member of H company, he survived the assault and was formally discharged from the service in 1865. After returning to Syracuse, he reopened his barbershop which he operated till he was 80 years old. James Jameson was buried in Oakwood in 1924, with no family around to carry out his final wishes Jameson’s grave was left unmarked.

Now, almost 100 years later the Historic Oakwood Cemetery Preservation Association is righting that wrong. The ceremony is part of an ongoing project to honor 10 Black soldiers from the civil war who have unmarked graves.

The ceremony on Saturday had around 40 guests including Civil War reenactment soldiers, speeches from Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens and Oakwood Historian Sue Greenhagen, and performances of national and Black national anthems, among other honors.

Although sparsely attended, word of the event did reach across the nation with one attendant coming from Portland, Oregon and others coming from Maryland, Oswego, and around Onondaga County.

Onondaga County Legislator Linda Ervin attended the event and spoke to it's importance as a way to inspire the youth.

"There were people that came before that were 15 or 16 years old and do what Jameson did. It gives them the ability to go forward and know that they're important."

As a part of a bigger initiative to uncover history and tell lost stories of the Grand Army of the Republic, Oakwood has discovered over 600 civil war grave sites, many unmarked. The HOCPA is making sure everyone’s story can be remembered.

To learn more about the initiative and other events being held at Oakwood cemetery head to