Veterans group teams up with Burrillville preservationists to restore grave of Civil War soldier

From left to right are General R. Bliss Camp 12 members Levi Leland, Michael Lannigain and Stephen Hackett with Betty Mencucci and Carlo Mencucci.

BURRILLVILLE – Steve Hackett, a member of General R. Bliss Camp 12 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, was installing flags on the graves of fallen soldiers in Pascoag Cemetery for Memorial Day when he first made the observation.

The gravestone of a Civil War soldier named Francis E. Callahan had fallen to the ground and lay broken.

Hackett and others in Camp 12 wanted to restore the gravestone to bring back dignity and respect, but had never reset a gravestone before.

Member Michael Lannigain contacted Betty and Carlo Mencucci of Burrillville, professional gravestone conservation experts. The Mencuccis do a great deal of volunteer work in conservation and restoration of Burrillville’s historical cemeteries on behalf of the Burrillville Historical & Preservation Society and the group wanted expert advice.

The Mencucci’s did an assessment of the work that needed to be done and volunteered to assist their members to repair and reset the late fallen soldier’s gravestone.   The equipment and supplies were provided by the Burrillville Historical & Preservation Society.

On Saturday, August 12 four volunteers from General R. Bliss Camp 12 worked together under the direction of the couple to repair and reset the gravestone. The work involved cleaning the headstone, digging out the base, resetting it so that it would be level and then repair the broken headstone and set it back in its base. The work required the use of a tripod since the stone weighed about 300 pounds. The Camp 12 volunteers included Lannigain, Hackett, Leo Kennedy and Levi Leland.

Callahan was born in Pascoag and was a 19-year-old weaver when he enlisted in Boston, Mass. on September 14, 1861. He served as a private for three years and was mustered into Co. K Massachusetts 26th infantry on October 18, 1861. He re-enlisted in 1864. and was mustered out on August 26, 1865 at Savannah, GA. Callahan died in 1867.

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