On Saturday, October
6, 2012 the Appomattox Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy held three Iron Cross Services along with a marker presentation
service at Longwood Cemetery in Bedford, Virginia to honor three brothers for their service in the War Between the States. Those who participated in the service were United Daughters of the Confederacy members
of the General William R Terry Chapter, the Bedford Rifle Grays, the Appomattox Courthouse
Rangers and the NB Ponton SCV Camp. These Iron Crosses were presented to private Joel Nathaniel Early, Private John
Milton Early and Private Don J. Early, denoting their service to the Confederate Army.
James Adair Early and Susan Thaxton Early of Liberty, Virginia raised four sons that enlisted in the war.
The eldest son Henry Thomas a student at the age of 19 enlisted in the Bedford Artillery. On extra duty he served as an ambulance
driver in 1863. He would not live out the war. Henry died in a Petersburg hospital at the age of 22. However, three of his
brothers Joel Nathaniel, John Milton, and Don J. Early did enlist and lived throughout the war.
was the second child born of this union on June 28, 1843. Joel Nathaniel enlisted on May 15, 1861, in Company C, Virginia
28th Infantry, he mustered out on Aug 15, 1861 and transferred to the Virginia Bedford Light Artillery Battery-
he remained in that unit until he mustered out in Oct 1862. He transferred as
a Private to Co D, in the 38th Virginia Battalion of Artillery.
During this time the Battalion saw service at Fredericksburg and began serving under Gen George Pickett’s
Division during the Suffolk Campaign. Other engagements that he fought in were at Gettysburg and the Second Battle of New
Bern in North Carolina. This unit also fought at Drewery’s Bluff and Cold Harbor.
He survived the war
and married Helen Nelson who was also from Bedford on March 9, 1874. The Early’s moved to the town of Bedford and lived
on College street where their four children were born, Henry was born 1879 and died in 1948, Henry married Margaret Holt and
they had 2 daughters Helen and Margaret. Leila Page was born in 1876, and later
in life became a member of the William R. Terry Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy. Susan Alex was born in 1877,
and Helen Kinlock in 1883. Helen married Richard Turner whom she met at college and they had one son. Joel Nathaniel, nearing
80 yrs of age was one of Bedford’s best known and honored citizens, who passed away at his home in 1923. During his
long life in the community he had been connected with the Treasurer’s Office and made many friends. Early in his life
he joined the Liberty Presbyterian Church and for 50 years served as a deacon in the church. He was a Mason. He was also a Lieutenant Commander in the Joseph E. Johnston camp of Confederate Veterans.
John Milton Early enlisted
in Richmond, Virginia as a Private and would also serve in Company D, 38th Virginia Battalion Artillery. John Milton
never married and he died in1926 and is buried in a family cemetery alongside his parents and three siblings.
Don J. Early was born
in May 1847 and enlisted April 18, 1864 at Union and severed in Captain Jacob Osborn’s Company, Wallace’s Battalion
11th Reserves as a Private. Due to a lengthy illness he only severed
for 6 months. Don married Betty Casey in May 1881, and they had 4 children J.
Gordon, Stuart, Frank, and Susan. For several years he was employed by the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company as a detective. Due to his feeble health Don was 58 years old when he died in 1906 and is buried in
Longwood Cemetery near his brother.
Special guests that attended the service were, Mrs. Helen Early Jones of Clarksburg, West Virginia
and Mrs. Margaret Early Shrewsbury from Augusta, West Virginia, and granddaughters of Joel Nathaniel. During the service they
were presented a flag in memory of their grandfather. Also, Mr. James C.
Early from Mt.Juliet, Tennessee attended.
John Milton, Joel Nathaniel, and Don J. Early are ancestors of Louise Price Adams,
Carol Adams Williams, and Laural M. Williams of the Appomattox Chapter 11 United Daughters of the Confederacy
and Children of the Confederacy.
Members of the Appomattox United Daughters of the Confederacy would like to express much appreciation
to all of those who participated and attended in this very special service to honor these three brothers.