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Polk County: Des Moines
GPS Coordinates: 41.589233 by -93.648850
Memorial for Aunt Becky Young, Army Nurse
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Sarah "Aunt Becky" Young (1830-1908) followed her home regiment at Ithaca, NY (NY 109th Infantry Regiment) in 1862 and was assigned as a Volunteer Army Nurse in field hospitals. She served continually through the end of the war. It was said that she was "beloved and famous throughout the Union Army." President Lincoln toured her hospital on April 7, 1865, just a week before he was assassinated. Her maiden name was Sarah Graham - her first husband was Abel Palmer and she was known as Sarah Palmer during the war - he died and she married David Young after the war and they moved to Des Moines. She was active in the WRC and Veteran affairs and known everywhere as "Aunt Becky."
She was author of a book, "The Story of Aunt Becky's Army-Life" by Sarah A. Palmer, published in 1867. It has been reprinted by Applewood Books and is available today. All but 3 months of her diary was lost so the book includes her account of her experiences plus the existing portion of the diary from February-April of 1865. While she is modest in listing her accomplishments, the book is interesting and provides an excellent account of the often dreadful conditions in the army field hospitals.
She is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines in Block 17 - Lot 134. This is just north of the city vault in the SW area of the cemetery. There was only a rusted flagpole by her tombstone. Due to efforts of the SUVCW Grenville M. Dodge Camp #75, a great deal of effort has been made to restore the flagpole, obtain a Veteran's headstone, and place a plaque on the back of the headstone. A large crowd gathered on November 11, 2009 to rededicate this memorial in her honor. The photos include the flagpole before restoration. There is also a photo of a flag being presented by 1st Sgt. David Lamb to Fred Pease, a descendent of Aunt Becky. The photos were taken November 11 and 12, 2009. The photo with the rusted flagpole was taken 7/27/09. The image of her as a younger woman is from her book and the other is from the History of the WRC from 1884-1934.