Two years ago, Rachel Bender inherited paperwork that showed she was the great-great niece of Isaac C. Hart from Massachusetts.
Then just last November she received an email from a man searching for Hart’s next of kin.
That man found Hart’s remains sitting on a shelf in the unclaimed division of a cemetery in Cincinnati, remains that likely had been there for 110 years since Hart’s death in 1913.
So Rachel and her husband drove to Ohio and retrieved him. Along this journey, they learned what Rachel has described as “exciting.”
They’ve gotten copies of letters that show he was a major for the Union Army in the Civil War and he volunteered to lead Black troops into battle.
A part of Black history Rachel says isn’t talked about enough.
“This is part of their history. They fought in the Civil War and died. Isaac, what he did, volunteering was quite a big step. He just had to be extremely brave and had to believe in what he was doing to do that, and he volunteered, I think, it was three times,” she said.
Using these documents, which mention the signature of President Andrew Johnson and certify the service of Major Hart, Rachel contacted Arlington National Cemetery.
Now she and several family members from across the country are about to head to our nation’s capital where Hart will be buried with full honors under a marble headstone provided by the cemetery.
She says they couldn’t be more proud of Isaac, as he stood for equality and was willing to die for it.
“The pride, and I know we had abolitionists in the family and that we played a role, and I think that he would be proud of his family, too. That we all turned out good. None of us are prejudiced,” she said.
On Monday, she went to the post office filled out forms and received the burial flag for his service later this week.
Rachel says this has been a whirlwind to learn so much more about Black history, the Civil War, and her family.
Major Isaac C. Hart will be buried this Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery.