Rose, Henry

On a warm Fall day along a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River a group of nearly 35 people gathered just over a ridge in historic Linwood Cemetery in Dubuque, Iowa. The spectators gathered to watch members of Robert Mitchell Camp No. 206 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) mark the heretofore unmarked and forgotten grave of Henry Charles Rose.

Dr. Henry Charles Rose (b. circa 1847 – d. Dec 17, 1919) was an African American man born in the antebellum South in the town of Louisiana in Pike County, Missouri, 90 miles north of St. Louis. Due to a lack of detailed records or biography, it is unknown if Rose was born an enslaved person or free. He passed away in Dubuque in 1919.

Rose was a self-made man who continued to better himself and the human condition of his fellow African Americans and all of mankind throughout his life. Rose was a respected Dubuque community leader who helped organize Dubuque Emancipation Day celebrations, established African American benevolent societies including the Dubuque A.F. & A.M. Masonic Lodge and the International Order of Twelve, was active in the local A.M.E. Church, and was a mentor to numerous young Black men in Dubuque. In the mid-1890s, Rose became a chiropodist and started practicing podiatry in an office in the hotel in which he worked as a porter and boot black, today’s Hotel Julien Dubuque. 

Census records and newspaper articles over three decades show Rose honorably served the 11th Missouri State Militia Cavalry, Company E, during the Civil War from 1862-65. It is unclear whether Rose was an enlisted soldier in the 11th Missouri, or more likely, contracted as non-combatant military personnel serving the company quartermaster. It is clear he was recognized by his White comrades and fellow Dubuque veterans for his service to the Union cause. Dubuque’s General C.S. Bentley and the Iowa National Guard chose Rose to organize and run the officer’s headquarters at the Waterloo, Iowa, National Guard encampment in 1882. Several officers were quoted in the newspapers praising Rose’s stewardship and referring to him as an “old caterer to military companies and encampments…”

While researching Henry Rose, a search of the local cemetery revealed he was in an unmarked grave. Further investigation validated the fact Rose, along with his German-born wife Kathrine and a baby Rose, were buried in section 1E, plot 13 in Linwood Cemetery. Upon validation, an effort was undertaken by Robert Mitchell Camp No. 206 to raise funds, procure headstones, and mark the grave of Rose, his wife, and their child.

On October 1, 2023, Mitchell Camp No. 206 was joined by the Dubuque NAACP, the 3rd Iowa Light Artillery, the Galena Generals, and musicians and singers from the University of Dubuque to celebrate the life and service of Henry Rose and to mark the grave of Rose and his wife and one of their children.

The ceremony opened with Ann Duchow playing Ashokan Farewell on the violin while the SUVCW color guard, consisting of Brothers Karl Geesaman, David Haverkamp, and an original camp founding member Dennis Geesaman, advanced the colors to the grave of the Roses under the watchful eye of sentinel Br. Matt Schwalm. Chaplain Charlie Tharp of the 3rd Iowa Light Artillery offered an invocation remembering all who served. Camp Commander John Pregler offered a eulogy to the life and service of Henry Rose followed by the laying of a wreath of grapevine, evergreen, and red, yellow, and white roses on the grave by another founding camp member Br. Richard Camp. The NAACP Dubuque chapter laid flowers on the grave, followed by Commander Pregler planting a flag on the grave while reminding all present what the flag represented to those who served the Union.

The placing of the flag was followed by a cannon salute by the 3rd Iowa L.A. and the playing of Taps by Mackenzie Young. The retiring of the colors proceeded along with the singing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, led by Kristen Eby and members of the University of Dubuque choir. With the last “Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on” came the end of the ceremony.

Robert Mitchell Camp No. 206 is proud to recognize Henry Rose for his service to the 11th Missouri State Militia Cavalry and to the preservation of the Union, whether as a soldier or as non-combatant military personnel. Salute!

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