Our cemeteries are the repository of history. The Dakota City Cemetery in Dakota City is considered by many to be the oldest continuously operated cemetery in Nebraska with its first documented burial in 1856. Its consecrated grounds are full of the early area pioneers who built the foundation of the area. Under every tombstone, or below the green grass of the unmarked grave there lies a story. In one of those unmarked spots rests the earthly remains of Sophronia Hunt, a female soldier in the Civil War.
Unmarked that is, until local historian Shirley Sides came along. Sides is from Dakota City, well versed in the stories of a number of the pioneers buried in the cemetery. “Sophronia carried a gun, dressed as a man, and went to war alongside her husband, keeping her gender a secret for over a month.” Sides continued, “We do not know how it was discovered that she was not a male, but we do know from records that she was reported by Iowa 29th Infantry Captain George Bacon.” Since they were not able to officially enlist, many women simply attached themselves to a unit with no one the wiser. Sophronia had no enlistment documentation, but merely presented herself along with brand new husband James Smith and was accepted. Most women had no trouble keeping their gender a secret.
Read the entire story in the latest edition of Living Here magazine.
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