A site was approved Tuesday for a memorial to honor six brothers of an African American farm family of Toolesboro, Iowa, who died as Union soldiers during the Civil War.
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors choose a site near the tiny crossroads community where the brothers were raised in southeast Iowa on the Illinois border.
In 1840, James and Martha Littleton moved from Maryland, via Ohio, to Iowa where they raised their nine children including three girls. In the1860 census, the family is identified as mulatto, a term used during that time period to mean they were of mixed race. Research determined Martha was white and her husband, James, was mulatto.
The men served in white military units, volunteering between 1861 and 1862. By 1864, all had died—some in battle and others from disease– and were buried far from home.
According to an article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, two of the brothers enlisted in 1861: Thomas, 25, on July 16 into Company C of the 5th Iowa Infantry and William, 24, on Sept. 21 into Company K of the 8th Iowa Infantry. The following year, the other four enlisted: George, 33, from New Boston, Ill. where he was living on March 26, 1862; John, 31, Kendall, 19, and Noah, 16, all together into Company F of the 19th Iowa Infantry on Aug. 21.
The story of the Littleton brothers was forgotten until several years ago when local historians came across a story in a scrapbook of newspaper articles from the 19th century. Since then, there has been a push to honor the Littleton brothers with a memorial.
On Memorial Day, May 28, the brothers will be honored for their service with an 8:30 a.m. program on the Iowa River Bridge on Highway 99 in Wapello, not far from Toolesboro.