HillgroveFlagStory & Photos by Scott Schaefer

Happy Veterans Day from The Waterland Blog to all Vets, active military and their families!

In honor of this holiday, we encourage all our Readers to thank a Vet – buy one a beer or a meal, or just give ‘em a big ol’ hug or say “thanks!”

We’d also like to take a few moments to share some local history regarding Veterans in our area.


Hillgrove-MarkerNot far from Des Moines is the Hillgrove Cemetery, a registered King County Landmark and one of the area’s premiere, though relatively unknown historic sites.

Located in SeaTac on S. 200th Street, just south of the airport, the privately-owned cemetery is the final resting place of many pioneer families. More than 350 people are buried there, including Veterans from the Civil War (both North and South), the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and Korea.

In 1997, The Highline Historical Society, in collaboration with Highline High School, received a King County Cultural Education grant for the restoration of the cemetery. Led by teacher Wendy Sayan, groups of students spent several years re-seating and cleaning headstones, replacing broken or stolen monuments, landscaping the area and tending the cemetery on days it was open to the public. More recently the City of SeaTac has mowed the grass and assisted with building a rockery on a threatened slope. The restoration and the mowing, along with the involvement of the students, has greatly reduced the once-rampant vandalism of the site.



Warren “Jim” Elsey
PFC U.S. Army
World War II

Mar 13, 1925 – Jul 29, 2010

Bronze Star Medal
“Jim God Winked”

Jim was born in Enumclaw to Ted and Dollie Elsey and was the eldest of four sons. He was the descendent of one of the first families to homestead in the Des Moines area.

Jim grew up in Des Moines, graduating from Highline High School in 1943. He was drafted into the Army in 1943 and served with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy where he twice received medals for valor.

Jim raised his family in Des Moines while being employed by Bonneville Power Administration in Covington. Following retirement in 1980 he moved to his home in Holly on Hood Canal. He immensely enjoyed his fruit orchard, all aspects of gardening, boating and harvesting seafood.

Jim traveled extensively over the years throughout the United States and Europe. His favorite vacation destination was Kona, Hawaii.

Jim had a very close relationship with God and was a devoted member of Marcus Whitman Presbyterian Church. For over 40 years members from the church gathered for an annual picnic the first weekend in August at his home on Hood Canal.

Jim cherished his family and friends. He left us with memories of love and friendship and we are truly blessed by God giving us the opportunity to share our lives with him.

R.I.P. Warren, aka “Jim”!



Capt. Sidney B Vrooman

Born July 10, 1827

Died Dec. 2, 1909

And finally, above is an historic, majestic tomb for Capt. Sidney B. Vrooman, who our research shows served in the Civil War! Records indicate that Vrooman, originally from Michigan, was wounded at the Battle at Gettysburg, but lived a long life after the war.

Capt. Sidney B. Vrooman, 1st lieut, June 19, 1861; enpt. May 22, 1862; wounded at Gettysburg; must. out. Oct. 5, 1864.

Vrooman fought in the Civil War for the Union Side, and was a First Lieutenant C in the 7th Michigan Infantry.

His wife, Sarah Huff Vrooman, is buried with him.

R.I.P. Capt. Sidney!

SOURCE: National Park Service website on the Civil War.

Just north in Burien, there’s a memorial wall dedicated to Veterans from World War I. It’s in front of Sunnydale Elementary School on Des Moines Memorial Drive, just south of S. 156th Street.

Spanning 84-feet, the wall is made of rose colored South Dakota granite with 20 four foot high slabs engraved with the names of 1428 soldiers, sailors, and marines who had given their lives in WWI.

Dedicated on Sept. 15, 1963, the stone memorial, though beautiful, “is poorly sited along the busy roadway,” the Highline Historical Society says on its website. “It has become virtually invisible to speeding motorists; it is not, and never has been, a focal point.”


The closeup photo (and a tree, #1172, since gone) above commemorates one Darris Schalk, Private 1st Class, Company M of the 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division.

Apparently Schalk was a Runner in battle in France at Mt. Blanc Ridge, taking messages back and forth from various headquarters. The father of a young man living in Seattle bought a memorial tree in his name because he delivered a message in his son’s (Sergeant Lloyd Case) place. Consequently, on Oct. 2, 1918, Schalk was shot and killed upon returning from a delivery. Upon hearing this story, the father of the surviving son bought a tree in the memory of Schalk because his actions saved his son’s life.

A VFW Post in Arkansas is named after Darris Schalk.

Here’s a quote about Schalk’s memorial from Case’s Father:

“The death of young Schalk occurred under very touching circumstances.

My son (Sgt. Lloyd Case) and he were company runners. The officer in command gave Case instructions to hastily deliver.

Pvt. Schalk, hearing the command, exclaimed, ‘It’s my turn Case, I’ll go!’ and just as he returned he was shot, dying in a few minutes.

That brave unselfish act was his last.”

Read more about this memorial here.

R.I.P. Darris Schalk.

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