Black Civil War veteran Alfred Griffin receives headstone in Hauppauge

After dedicating Griffin's military headstone, the group will dedicate the newly placed military headstones of World War I veteran David Walker and Civil War veteran Wesley Wheeler, also interred at Hauppauge United Methodist Church.

News 12 Staff

Jun 17, 2023, 4:53 PM

Updated 310 days ago

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A headstone was dedicated Saturday morning in honor of a Black Civil War veteran at Hauppauge United Methodist Church.
Alfred Griffin did not have a grave marker for over a century. In 1861, Griffin joined the U.S. Navy to fight for the Union during the Civil War, and he was buried in 1897.
Part of the reason why Griffin didn't have headstone is because his first name was unknown to the cemetery trustees for decades. That changed recently when a local historian tracked down Griffin's veterans pension document in Smithtown.
The trustees of the cemetery provided Alfred Griffin’s documentation to the Society of the Grand Army of the Republic, who then applied to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for his headstone, which was then delivered to the cemetery in time for Juneteenth.
Members thought it was an injustice that he did not have a proper marker for his final resting place, and remember the type of veteran he was.
"Someone who was selfless and gave instead of thinking of himself when he could have gone to a free state and just been unmolested he instead joined the military," said Thomas Badamo, representative of the Grand Army of the Republic. “We felt is was time to undo a terrible injustice to take care of this to make sure he's not forgotten.”
“He symbolizes service to a nation. He symbolizes hope because he fought his way out of slavery. Now he has his full name on a stone, so he won't be forgotten,” said George Munkenbeck of the Society of Grand Army of the Republic.
According to the Society of the Grand Army of the Republic and Hauppauge United Methodist Church:
“Griffin was born in Florida in 1830 and self-emancipated, fighting off bloodhounds with a mason's trowel during his daring escape. In 1861, he answered President Lincoln's call to save the Union, enlisting in the U.S. Navy on [November 25] of that year. During the Civil War, he served on the U.S.S. Huntsville, the U.S.S. North Carolina, the U.S.S. Circassian, the U.S.S. Osccola, and the U.S.S. Ohio. He achieved the rank of Landsman before his honorable discharge on [March 12,] 1864. An 1897 obituary described the veteran Mr. Griffin as a master bricklayer whose work was without equal."
Griffin's flag was presented to Deacon James Cornigans, who accepted the honor on behalf of Griffin's family.
“I just think it's an awesome thing that they would honor somebody from so long ago,” he said.
After dedicating Griffin's military headstone, the group dedicated the newly placed military headstones of World War I veteran David Walker and Civil War veteran Wesley Wheeler, also interred at Hauppauge United Methodist Church.
Editor's Note: This story has been edited to reflect that SoGAR did not fundraise for the headstone, as was previously stated.


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