MELISSA (SIMONSEN) WALIGORA and Durand VFW member Mike Shepard can be seen placing a wreath at the Unknown Soldier statue in the Gaines Veterans Memorial Park on Monday, May 28 during the village’s Memorial Day ceremony. The Simonsen family was honored during the service, which included entertainment by the Gaines Community Band, a rifle salute by the Gaines Rifle Team, a benediction by Pastor Eric Johnson of the Gaines United Methodist Church and an invocation by Deacon Wayne Corrion of St. Joe’s Catholic Church.
Silas and Harriet (Brewer) Simonsen moved to Gaines in 1847, where they became pioneers of the community. They cleared and farmed 160 acres of unbroken wilderness, which they purchased from the government in 1850 for $20. The Simonsens also opened the first store in this section of land. Silas built the store on the site between Cozadd and Perkins stores, and boarded the workmen who built the nearby railroad. In 1853, Silas was appointed Commissioner of Highways for the Township of Gaines.
The couple had 15 children, with Orville, Peter, George and Henry all serving in the Civil War. Also serving during the Civil War were the husbands of their daughters, Caroline (David Convis), Mary (William Vannoller) and Sarah Elizabeth (Lambert Foster). David, Orville and Peter all died as a result of their service in the Civil War.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)