Volume No. 15 Issue No. 8 August 2018  



  Finally, a proper headstone
  Mark Stoller

     After 129 years with his name etched into a simple stone to mark his gravesite, Sgt. William S. Coon of Company C, 1st Volunteer Colorado Cavalry received a proper headstone commensurate for a veteran who served his country in two wars.
   
   On July 4, members of the American Legion Dane R. Balcon Post 2008, American Legion Riders, American Legion Auxiliary and Danielle Pieper, the vice president and program chairwoman of the Pikes Peak Genealogical Society gathered at the Eastonville Cemetery and dedicated a new headstone for Sgt. Coon.
   
   “This has been the culmination of great perseverance,” said Doreen Bronner of the American Legion Dane R. Balcon Post 2008 and director for this initiative. “I am a history buff and this two-year project has been near and dear to me.”
   
   The effort to provide a proper headstone for an American war veteran has not been without its frustrations and disappointments. “Post 2008 petitioned the Veterans Administration to provide the headstone only to have the agency lose the request,” Bronner said. “After resubmitting the paperwork, the VA required Post 2008 to identify any known heirs of Sgt. Coon. The heirs would have to grant permission for a new headstone to be procured for their family member.”
   
   The search for heirs brought the Post together with the Pikes Peak Genealogical Society and Danielle Pieper. For the last six months, Pieper has been instrumental in researching Sgt. Coon’s life history and service to his country.
   
   During the dedication ceremony, Pieper relayed historical information on Sgt. Coon. “Sgt. William S “Billy” Coon was born in New York in 1822 to German immigrants before moving to Michigan to become a distiller. He was 5 feet, 5 inches tall with blue eyes and auburn hair. In 1847, he enlisted in the 1st Michigan Infantry and served for eight and a half months during the Mexican War. Following his discharge, he moved to Colorado, possibly chasing the dream of adventure and gold. In September 1861, Coon enlisted in the Colorado 1st Volunteer Calvary, Company C, in the gold camp at Buckskin Joe, Colorado. Coon traveled over the northwest corner of Colorado where he served in multiple capacities for the quarter master, payroll teamster between the post and Denver; provost marshal duty in Denver, Fort Garland and American Ranch on the Overland Trail; and nurse duty in Fort Collins. In 1864, Coon was sent with Company D to Valley Station to protect ranchers and travelers on the Overland Trail following the Sand Creek Massacre that created heightened tensions between natives and white settlers. Following his discharge from active duty in 1865, Coon married an Irish lady named Mary and purchased land in Eastonville, Colorado. He was a resident of Eastonville until his death on April 18, 1889.”
 
Sgt. William “Billy” Coon received a new grave headstone compliments of the American Legion Dane R. Balcon Post 2008. Sergeant Coon is a veteran and served during the Mexican War (1848) and the Civil War (1861-1865).
 
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