home / All Blog Posts / ‘A Family Obligation’: Amie Kunkle-Cox Honors the Grave of William Bratton as a Volunteer for the Lewis and Clark Trust’s ‘Honor-Respect-Preserve’ Project

‘A Family Obligation’: Amie Kunkle-Cox Honors the Grave of William Bratton as a Volunteer for the Lewis and Clark Trust’s ‘Honor-Respect-Preserve’ Project

By Rachel Taylor

Every December at over 4,225 locations, wreaths are laid on the graves of veterans as part of the National ‘Wreaths Across America’ project. These wreaths are placed by Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts, Daughters of the American Revolution Chapters, interpretive centers, and of course, individual volunteers. These individual volunteers have a passion for history and for respect, often coming back year after year to honor a veteran with a wreath-laying. The Lewis and Clark Trust began the Honor-Respect-Preserve project specifically to honor members of the Discovery Corps and rely heavily on these individual volunteers to make this project possible. I had the honor of interviewing one of these volunteers, Amie Kunkle-Cox. 

Amie is a self described author, writer, educator, and speaker. She works full-time as a certified district media specialist/school librarian and part-time as a local history librarian. She is a long-time history and genealogy buff, with a passion for preservation and research.

Amie has been laying a wreath on William Bratton’s grave for three years as part of the Wreaths Across America Honor-Respect-Preserve project, but she has been interested in telling his story for much longer. It started as she began researching his life for a biography she was writing, “A Compass Pointing Home: The Adventurous Life of William Bratton of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.” Amie described William Bratton’s life as one of “rich adventure,” beyond his time with Lewis and Clark.

At an early age, Bratton moved to the wild frontiers of Kentucky where he forged skills in hunting, trapping, and gunsmithing that earned him a place on the famous expedition west, where he played an important role in the success of the mission. Bratton was one of the “nine young men from Kentucky” that were recruited as part of the Discovery Corps.

When he returned from the west, he worked on the Mississippi River for approximately four years before joining up in the War of 1812. After he returned form the war, Bratton moved back to Warren County, Kentucky to run a mill with his brothers, before eventually settling down in Crawfordsville, Indiana to raise a family with his wife.

It was there where he was buried in the Old Pioneer Cemetery, not far from Amie’s own home, allowing her to frequent the cemetery during her book, as well as during her own amateur genealogy research. As she researched, she discovered that she was related to William Bratton himself, and so when she was asked by the Lewis and Clark Trust to lay a wreath on his grave as part of the Honor-Respect-Preserve, there was no question.

“For me it is almost more like a family obligation,” Amie said. “I want to make sure that it is visible, that this respect is shown.”

Amie’s dedication to the Old Pioneer Cemetery paid off in more ways than one. When a drunk driver plowed through the cemetery, destroying many stones including the Bratton Family graves, Amie’s knowledge and records allowed for the stones to be rebuilt and for people who had not yet been recorded to be remembered in the cleanup efforts. Though it was hard to see the stones destroyed, she was glad to be able to contribute her knowledge so that everyone could be honored, since many records hadn’t been updated since the 1940s.

Through her volunteer work, Amie says she feels more connected to her community, to the Honor-Respect-Preserve project, and to the past. She hopes that projects like these will inspire other people to get involved. She represented the sprit of this project and organization well, summing up her feelings with the following comment, “I think if we all do a small part, its amazing what we can accomplish together.”

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