Marker honoring Brigadier General Henry Moses Judah, top photo, was installed Monday in front of the King’s Highway Cemetery tomb, lower left, where he is interred. Photo lower right: stone masons Raymond Gilbody, left, and Dennis Stachelczyk gently lift the marker into place. / Photos by Gretchen Webster

By Gretchen Webster

WESTPORT — Brigadier General Henry Moses Judah, a career Army officer in the Civil and Mexican-American wars, finally got a headstone of his own in the King’s Highway Cemetery, where he was laid to rest 158 years ago.

On Monday afternoon, the stone was laid at the tomb entrance where the general is buried with his father and mother in the communal grave of Ozias Marvin, along with about 45 other people.

Communal tombs were common in 1866, when Judah was buried. They did not have the equipment to dig separate graves during the winter when the ground was frozen, or it may have been to save money, according to Peter Jennings, the church historian at Greens Farms Church, and the author of the book, “Buried in Our Past, The History of Westport Cemeteries.” Jennings, an 11th-generation Westport resident, was present at the installation of Judah’s headstone.

Photo at left: Peter Jennings, the church historian at Greens Farms Church, and author of the book “Buried in Our Past, The History of Westport Cemeteries,” came to King’s Highway Cemetery to witness installation of the Judah grave marker. At right: stone masons Raymond Gilbody, left, and Dennis Stachelczyk after completing installation of the headstone Monday.
Lettering on the stone above the entrance to the Ozias Marvin communal tomb — where General Judah also is buried with his parents — has worn away, with the name “Marvin” barely discernible.

The concrete bed for the new grave marker was prepared and the stone laid by two stone masons from Norwalk, Raymond Gilbody and Dennis Stachelczyk. 

Gilbody has installed only one headstone prior to Monday, but he said he found the historical significance of Judah’s stone interesting. The two men read up on General Judah’s life when they received the marker that was shipped to Westport from Wisconsin two weeks ago.

The stone masons dug a shallow trench in front of the tomb door, just large enough for the stone, then poured a small concrete pad to hold the stone. The men then carried the heavy grave maker across a very busy King’s Highway to place it in the trench.

Army Brigadier General
Henry Moses Judah

Then they added more concrete around the marker, making sure that the stone was level. The whole process took about two hours. 

The grave marker was paid for by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and installation costs provided by a donor to an organization called Shrouded Veterans, which has installed more than 100 headstones recognizing the unmarked graves of Civil War officers.

Frank Jastrzembski, the head of the Shrouded Veterans, had contacted First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker in January about installing a headstone for Judah. Grayson Braun, chair of the Historic District Commission, then worked with Jastrzembski to facilitate delivery and installation of the marker.

Judah is credited with capturing Confederate General John Hunt Morgan in Ohio 1863. He was also a commander in Union General Ambrose Burnside’s expedition to secure control of Knoxville, Tenn., according to an obituary in the BurlingtonTimes.

Judah, however, apparently had problems with alcoholism and was demoted to administrative duties after Morgan was captured. He died at the age of 45 in Plattsburgh, N.Y., where he was stationed, and his body was accompanied to Westport by his brother where he was interred in the Marvin tomb. The burial site also contains the remains of Judah’s father, the Rev. Henry Judah, who was a rector of St. John’s Church in Bridgeport, and his mother, Mary Jane Judah.

Ozias Marvin, also a military veteran, was known for hosting George Washington at Marvin’s tavern on “the Westport-Norwalk Road” on Nov. 11, 1789, according to a diary entry in the national archives by Washington.

The Revolutionary War leader and nation’s first president was not happy with his stay there. The Marvin tavern “is not a good House, though the People of it were disposed to do all they cou’d to accomodate me,” he said in the diary entry. Marvin died in 1807.

The weather-worn sign at the entrance to King’s Highway Cemetery.

It is believed there are five other large communal burial sites like the Marvin tomb in King’s Highway Cemetery, Jennings said, although entrances to only two are visible. The Marvin tomb is closest to the street, situated on a hill with a small iron gate in front and a large, mostly illegible, stone over the entrance.

“The cemetery is a mess,” Jennings said of its many fallen trees and fallen headstones. He cleared vines and vegetation from the front of the Marvin tomb last weekend to make it easier for the stone masons to install the marker for General Judah.

Gilbody and Stachelczyk were pleased with the results of their work, as befit the grave marker’s link to local history. Gilbody said he was happy to play a part in honoring a veteran, and would be interested in helping pay tribute to other military veterans, especially those from World War II.

“I would be willing to install headstones for free for anyone who fought in World II,” he said. “Because if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.” 

Freelance writer Gretchen Webster, a Fairfield County journalist for many years, was editor of the Fairfield Minuteman and has taught journalism at New York and Southern Connecticut State universities.