Thief River Falls historian honors Civil War veteran nearly 100 years later

Honors for a veteran in northwest Minnesota. It comes nearly a century after his death.

Thief River historian honors Civil War veteran nearly 100 years later
Mark Beedy looks at the grave stone for Samuel J. Fuller at the Greenwood Cemetery in Thief River Falls.

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — Historian and Genealogist Mark Beedy is a familiar face in cemeteries across Pennington County.

That's why he is a member of the website Find a Grave. In 2017 Beedy received an anonymous request through the site. That person wanted a picture of Samuel J. Fuller's grave at the Greenwood Cemetery in Thief River Falls, but there was a problem with fulfilling that request.

"He's been laying there without any recognition," said Steve Stone, who serves as the Veterans Service Officer for Pennington County.

For 91 years, Samuel Fuller has been buried at the cemetery with no grave marker.

"Every veteran should be recognized," said Beedy.


When he wasn't working overnights at Digi-Key, Beedy would spend the next three years researching Fuller's life. He discovered that Fuller grew up in Vermont, then moved to Minnesota where he farmed and served with the Minnesota Infantry during the Civil War. He then moved to California to farm before returning to Minnesota where he passed away in 1929 at the age of 96.

"I told that person I would make sure that Mr. Fuller would get a marker," explained Beedy.

Two weeks ago Beedy's years of work paid off.

"It's a beautiful marker, it sticks out so nice, I'm just honored he is recognized now," said Beedy.

The Veterans Administration sent a 200-pound, marble headstone to be placed at Fuller's burial plot which was located by using old cemetery maps. The VA provides them free of charge.

"It's just amazing the amount of evidence he came up with that we could get this marker from the VA," Stone said of Beedy's work.


With Fuller's gravestone now in place, it's actually right back to work for Beedy. He has discovered another veteran is buried right next to Fuller, and he too does not have a grave marker.

"It's Joseph Meyers, he was a World War One vet," said Beedy.

He was only in his 20s when he died at training in April 1918. Beedy has learned Meyers tried to dodge the draft by providing what was described as a lame excuse on the farm.

"He was helping his grandpa, they went and asked his grandpa, his grandpa said he hadn't seen him in months, so that blew that," explained Beedy with a chuckle.

Beedy hopes to have his headstone from the VA next spring.

"It's life-changing in a way, you meet people you never knew existed," said Beedy.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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