The John Sevier Chapter of the TNSSAR on Saturday co-hosted a Patriot Grave Marking Ceremony to honor five Revolutionary War soldiers who settled in Tennessee after the war, almost 250 years ago.
“It's really about community,” says George Lane, president of the Stephen Holston Chapter - who co-hosted the event – whose 4th great-grandfather, John Lane, who served as a private in Captain Ambrose Madison's Company of Foot in the Regiment of Guards at Albermarle Barracks in 1779-1780, was among those honored. “These men came from all over – Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina – and joined together because they wanted a better life for themselves and their families and were willing to fight and to die for it.”
In similar fashion to their ancestors, men and women came from all over for this ceremony. There were representatives from 11 chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution, seven chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and even a past-president of the Children of the American Revolution, as well as numerous members of the community.
“The Egyptians believed that every person experiences two deaths: The first is when their breath leaves their body. The second is with the last person that utters their name,” shared John Breyfogle, president of the Tombigbee Chapter who traveled from Columbia, Tn. to be a part of the ceremony. “We want to assure the men and women who served to create and preserve this Constitutional Republic still live on in our land.”
Knoxville businessman Mark DeNicola, member of the Stephen Holston Chapter, shared how Robert Sterling, who was from Pennsylvania like himself, became part of the fabric of the community of Blount County. “When he died he left each of his children $1.25 in his will and the rest of his estate to his wife, Margaret. When Margaret passed in 1845 she bequeathed 'all the remainder of my real and personal estate to the Synod of the Covenant Church to which I now properly belong for the education of young men for the university.'”
And even to this day the Synod of the Covenant seeks to inspire, equip, and connect the Presbyterian congregations and organizations which compose it to join Christ’s mission to the world with increasing love, joy, and faithfulness. The Synod includes 11 presbyteries and nearly 700 congregations throughout Michigan and Ohio (and small slices of Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin). Ministry within the Presbyterian Church (USA) is located primarily in local churches, which are supported by presbyteries (seven in Ohio and four in Michigan), which are in turn supported by Synods (16 across the United States).
Chattanoogan Scott Pryor gave tribute to Joseph Johnston, who was born in Dublin, Ireland, and rose to the rank of sergeant during the war. “Joseph would march into the Army’s winter encampment at Valley Forge on Dec. 19, 1777, one of 427 assigned men, but it is not known if he was counted among the 46 fit for duty. He was discharged on Feb. 13, 1778.”
Compatriot Pryor also shared that one of Sgt. Johnston's descendants, Summerfield Johnston, who was one of the owners of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Chattanooga, was one of the charter members of the John Sevier Chapter. Patriot Johnson had connections to the other four men who were honored, but his connection to Patriot John Walker was probably one of the deepest. Their children married so they shared grandchildren, too.
“Robert McCoy, who was 72 when he applied for a pension, was unclear about when and how long he served. In his pension he recalled only 10 weeks of service, but when his pension was approved they documented 21 months of service,” shared Chuck Green.
“It's not unusual for men who serve in war together to become lifelong friends. These men served and then pioneered the Tennessee Valley, where their descendants thrive still today,” said George Lane. “I have a Patriot ancestor up every branch of my family tree. Most people in these parts do. If anyone wishes to explore those possibilities, I hope they'll contact me and we have a team of people who can help them do just that.” Mr. Lane is the executive director of the Blount County Historical Museum and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (865) 414-1527.
The Stephen Holston Chapter will dedicate a new monument on Nov. 5, paying tribute to 28 Revolutionary War and 15 War of 1812 Patriots at the historic location of the New Providence Presbyterian Church Cemetery in downtown Maryville. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. and the public is invited to attend.