August 1, 2016 9:00 am
Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health
2600 Center St NE
After nearly a hundred years in the custody of Oregon State Hospital, Jewett Williams, a private who served with the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, is going home.
Originally from Hodgdon, a small farming community in northern Maine, Williams joined the 20th Maine in October 1864. During his enlistment, his unit participated in several decisive actions that helped secure the Union’s victory in the later stages of the war and was part of the force that accepted General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
Much later, Williams settled in Portland and was admitted as a patient at Oregon State Hospital for the last few months of his life. He died on July 17, 1922, at age 78. Unfortunately, no one ever came forward to claim Williams’ remains — until now.
Earlier this year, the Adjutant General of the Maine National Guard, with the support of Togus National Cemetery and Maine Sen. Angus King, expressed the desire to see Pvt. Williams’ cremains returned to his native state, with all the honors due to a veteran who served his nation in a time of war.
His cremains will be transported across the country via the Patriot Guard Riders, a nationwide volunteer organization that performs patriotic services for military funerals.
A ceremony honoring Williams and transferring custody of his cremains to the Patriot Guard Riders will be held at 9 a.m. Aug. 1 at the Oregon State Hospital Memorial, which is located on the grounds of the hospital’s Salem campus at 2600 Center Street NE. Interested media are welcome to attend.
The ceremony will include a period-specific color guard presentation, performed by Oregon-based Civil War reenactors assigned to the 20th Maine. The event is being jointly organized by the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and will be live-streamed on the ODVA’s Facebook Page at facebook.com/odvavet.