Eugene Augustus Hussey

31 October 1876 – 24 August 1898

I’ve seen Spanish-American War headstones before, but they were more traditional military-issue. There are at least 2 like this one at Calvary and both are for young men who died in Cuba.

The epitaph inscribed on Eugene’s beautiful marker is “He gave his life for love of his country,” but though he fought in the Spanish-American War, his death did not happen in the heat of battle or even thanks to wounds suffered in the fighting.

Eugene volunteered after the US declared war on Spain in April 1898 and by 13 May 1898, he’d mustered out with the 1st Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Once Eugene and his fellows arrived in Cuba, they joined up with Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders in their attack on San Juan on 8 July. Eugene was marching on Santiago by the next day, and by the 17th, the Spanish had surrendered unconditionally.

The troops had spent several weeks in Florida waiting to ship out and then had to wait weeks to return. It wasn’t until 24 August that the 1st Illinois was ordered home, but as was true for many of his comrades, Eugene had fallen ill from one of the air- or insect-borne diseases his body had no defenses against, and that very day, he passed away.

Eugene was the oldest of 4 and left behind a brother and 2 sisters as well as his parents. Curiously, none of them ever married and all lived together until their deaths. Father Augustus — himself a veteran of the Civil War (Union) — died in 1929. Mother Hattie died in 1943 at the age of 96. Fred and then Irene both died in 1955, leaving Marie alone for the next 35 years. She lived to be 101 and died in 1990. The family are all buried together at Calvary.

RIP Husseys

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