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Agent blog: Remembering a town’s veterans


American Family Insurance agent Amy Chandler is proud to live in Cainsville, Missouri, population 278. So she works hard to keep the town thriving. Her latest project is recreating a sign honoring Cainsville’s more than 600 veterans.

I live in the little town of Cainsville, Missouri, population 278.

My great-grandparent, grandparent and parents were from this town, and it means a lot to me to keep things going here.

As people come and go and things change, some things get neglected or forgotten. When my grandparents were around, Cainsville had a board at the American Legion grounds that had all of the World War I and World War II veterans listed on it.

Over time, the paint started to peel and – eventually – a wind storm knocked the sign down. At the time, someone took it and stored it in a barn until the town decided to put it back up. Well, here we are 2017, and no one can remember who stored the veterans sign in their barn.

I am now president of Community Betterment for Cainsville, and we are always looking for projects to make our community a better place to live. So far, we’ve bought an old gas station on the west side of town and turned it into a museum, installed playground equipment at the Legion grounds and the community center and put new sidewalks in front of some of the old buildings.

Now, we’re creating a new veterans wall for our city.

Cainsville’s City Hall is located in the old mill building that used to set on the river. So, on the front of the building, we’ve created a wood frame with more than 800 subway tiles on it. Our goal was to list each veteran’s name, rank, branch and service during war or peacetime.

But first, we had to find the names. The original sign was gone, and there was no other record.

My first job was to go to our local history book. In its 650 pages, I was able to find more than 200 names.

Then I talked with Lila McLain, one of my fellow Betterment Committee members, and our local historian. She has books about all the local cemeteries and is always getting more information about the people there. Her efforts added another 200 names to our list. Articles in our local newsletter and requests on the Cainsville Facebook page gave us another 200 veteran names.

Now, our list starts with World War I and goes to present-day active service members, for a total of more than 600 names.

So far, I have applied the World War I names to the wall. Those 70 names alone, took me eight hours.

This project has turned out to be bigger than I expected, but I’m getting a lot of good feedback not only from local residents but from people who have or have had relatives in Cainsville.

Despite the time involved, this is one of the most worthwhile projects that I have ever volunteered for. I’ve had the chance to learn more about my community and the men and women who are the reason we can live the way we live today.