Editor’s note: The following is the first in a multi-part series about Imlay City Civil War veteran Owen Nolin and the Holt Guard.
Flint resident David Norris was searching online for information on his great-grandfather Talmon Owen’s service in the Civil War when he came across a post made by Randy Fulton, a great-great-great grandson of Levi Clark. He saw that Randy’s ancestor also served in the same company as Talmon. Norris sent a message to Fulton, an Imlay City High School alumnus living in Tennessee, who told him his ancestor Levi kept a diary and that it had been transcribed years ago by a distant cousin. Fulton recalled the unique name, Talmon, being in it. Norris was thrilled and shared information about his involvement in the “adopt a flag” program at Michigan State Museum. In August, the museum will be revealing the restored battle flag of the 10th Michigan Infantry. In conversation, Fulton mentioned his classmate also had an ancestor in Company F-Holt Guard.
On May 9 there was a message waiting for me from David Norris. Norris explained his Masonic Lodge had begun a fundraising effort in 2019 to get the battle flag restored and noted that our great-grandfathers were not only mentioned in Levi Clark’s diary, but they also were wounded in the same battle in 1864 and had enlisted in Almont at the same time in 1862. I messaged back that I knew of the diary and that Fulton had given me a copy of it a few years ago. I told Norris I would be honored to be a member of the “New Holt Guard.” On May 15, Norris drove from Flint to present me a small replica of the battle flag to put on my great-grandfather Owen Nolin’s grave and then we proceeded to Webster Cemetery in Almont to place another flag replica on Levi Clark’s grave on behalf of Randy Fulton and his family. A toast was made by David Norris to the “the brothers of the Holt Guard,” recognizing the hardships all three went though during the war. And gratitude is expressed by this writer to the men “for going through Hell and coming back home” for none of us would be here today if they had not. A special thanks and debt to Levi Clark for recording their history and not letting them be forgotten.
A Time for Peace
May 15 at the Imlay Township Cemetery—on a sunny Saturday afternoon, high school senior Jonathan Broder plays “Taps” at the gravesite of Owen Nolin, a Civil War veteran who passed away in 1884. In attendance were descendants of the Holt Guard, Company F of the 10th Michigan Infantry.
The birds, in overhead trees, accompanied the trumpet’s solemn notes with their own. The gentle breeze helped the music soar to the heavens as part of a tribute to a man that died when his second born son was only 9 years old and is this writer’s great-grandfather. The sun shone brightly through the leafy shelter, offering a balance of warmth to the coolness of the red granite stone. As the last notes echoed away into infinity, Norris unfurled a 3×5 flag with 35 gold stars and 13 red and white stripes. Blazed across the top red stripe was the name of the Civil War regiment that Owen Nolin, Talmon Owen, Levi Clark and many other Lapeer County men fought under over 150 years ago—the 10th Regiment Michigan Infantry. On the other red stripes listed some of the major battles the regiment had been in between 1862 and 1864—battles that are long forgotten and no longer on the minds of those marching in today’s Memorial Day parades. Battles that preserved the fragile Union, known as the United States of America. Farmington, Corinth, Stone River, Antioch, Mission Ridge, Ringgold. Two years of toil, sweat, blood and death, in a war that was supposed to be over in six months.
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