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Bikers to Ferry Century-old Ashes of Civil War Soldier


FILE - Patriot Guard Riders escort a motorcade carrying 200 POWs for the 40th anniversary of the homecoming of Vietnam POWs at Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, May 23, 2013.

FILE - Patriot Guard Riders escort a motorcade carrying 200 POWs for the 40th anniversary of the homecoming of Vietnam POWs at Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, May 23, 2013.

A veteran of the U.S. Civil War is making his way across the country nearly 100 years after his death.

On Monday, the cremated remains of Jewett Williams were handed over at a ceremony to a group of motorcycle-riding military veterans for a journey back to his home state of Maine.

Williams, who was 21 years old in 1864, joined the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment at the tail end of the war. The regiment was reportedly part of the Union force that accepted Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.

Hospital records show Williams died in 1922 at an insane asylum in Oregon, just a few months after being admitted.

The asylum, now called Oregon State Hospital, used to cremate patients whose bodies were not claimed by family. The ashes were put in canisters and stored in a shed.

The Patriot Guard Riders, a nonprofit organization that performs services for fallen military heroes and deceased veterans, will provide Private Williams a long-awaited escort back home.

The Oregon chapter of the group received the remains Monday. They will ferry the ashes east, passing them from one state's club to the next.

Williams' journey home will wind through at least 19 states and cover more than 3,200 miles.

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