VAN WERT, Ohio (WFFT)- Like many before and after, James L. Coe served his country, but he has a very special story.
We first told you about Coe on July 4th when a headstone was placed at his grave. A ceremony was planned to give him a proper send off this weekend.
Coe's story dates back to July 4th, 1776 when he was born in Pennsylvania.
"He was living in a village that was raided by Indians. His father and his brother were killed defending the settlement. At two years of age, under his mother's arms, fled," said Bill Marshall with the Van Wert County Veterans Commission.
At 16, Coe moved to New York and joined the Navy, spent some time working as a carpenter, and then served in the War of 1812, seeing battle and even captivity before eventually moving to Baltimore, Ohio. In the 1850s, he settled in Van Wert.
"He was given 160 acres and he lived here until his death in 1885," Marshall said.
Yes, that's right. Coe died in 1885 at 109 years old.
"When he died he was the oldest living veteran of the War of 1812," Marshall said.
Marshall started researching the oldest veteran buried in Woodland Cemetery about a month and a half ago. He learned Coe didn't have a headstone. Two weeks ago, the marker was placed, and this weekend, he got the goodbye he should have had 130 years ago.
"We take care of our own. That transfers all the way back to the War of 1812. If we can represent our thanks to them, we will do it any way we can," Marshall said.
After the marker was placed on July 4th, Marshall worked to find a living relative of Coe. That relative is his great, great, great, great, great grandson, James Wilson.
"It's very interesting and very rewarding just to see him honored," Wilson said.
He's had a picture of his distant relative in his possession since 1985.
"It replicates him in his naval uniform we believe, at the approximate age of around 100," Wilson said.
And with people from surrounding states standing by, Wilson was able to see the reenactors salute Coe.
"In a way I don't really view them as strangers, because they're people who have common interests as I do, and people who have common interests aren't really strangers to each other," he said.
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