Stolen Honor in Georgia

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Gabriel Neville.

Thirty years ago, Dutch Henderson was “stomping through the woods” near Lake Sinclair in central Georgia when he stumbled upon an old gravestone. Some might have thought it an odd spot for a grave, but Dutch knew the history of the area and it made sense. In fact, the setting told him the man six feet under had played an important role in American history.

The inscription on the marker read: “CORP. DRURY JACKSON, SLAUGHTER’S CO. 8 VA. REGT. REV. WAR.” Why was this headstone for a Revolutionary War soldier all alone in the woods near a lake? Time changes things. Neither the lake nor the woods were there when Drury Jackson died. Back then the grave was on cleared ground overlooking the Oconee River. Depressions in the soil still reveal to the trained eye that Drury was buried in proper cemetery. The river became a lake in 1953 when it was dammed up to create a 45,000-kilowatt hydroelectric generating station. When Dutch found the grave, the cemetery had been neglected and reclaimed by nature. Today it is in a copse of trees surrounded by vacation homes.

The mysterious headstone for veteran Drury Jackson provides no dates to help us identify the man in the ground. (Dutch Henderson)

Dutch spends his free time studying local history and conducting archeology. He has made some important finds, including a string of frontier forts along what was once the “far” side of the Oconee. He’s pretty sure that Drury’s burial in that spot is an important clue to his life in the years following the Revolutionary War. From there, however, things get complicated.[1]

A genealogy site sporting a photo of the headstone tells us that Drury Jackson was born in Brunswick County, Virginia on February 2, 1745, married Lucy Dozier and then Nancy Ann Kennedy, and died in Wilkes County, Georgia before 1794. This seems possible, but Wilkes County is about seventy miles northeast of the grave. Another source tells us that Drury Jackson was born in 1767 in Franklin County, Tennessee, married Lucy B. Myrick, and died in Baldwin County, Georgia in 1823. This seems more likely, since the grave is in Baldwin County.

So, which of the two men is the right Drury Jackson? The easy assumption is that the stone properly belongs to the one who died nearby. The grave marker itself is of no help. It provides neither the date of his birth nor the date of his death. Moreover, it is the kind of marker that was issued after 1873 by the federal government for the graves of veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American wars (and the unmarked graves of veterans of earlier wars). It is clear that the marker was placed there long after the man’s death by descendants or others in the community.[2]

Continue reading “Stolen Honor in Georgia”

Find Your Patriot, Part 2

For Part One, click here.

So, you have a relative that fought in the American Revolution and you want to know more… now what? Joining an organization, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), is a lengthy and detail-oriented process. It takes patience and perseverance. Before beginning the process, I attended a research seminar hosted by the local chapter to learn about the specific requirements for applying. If you have any experience with records, the one consistent theme is that records do not consistently capture the same information. Some death records do not list birth-dates, birth records do not always list both parents, and worst-case scenario, many records can be lost, stolen or severely damaged.

As I mentioned in part 1, my grandmother provided me with a box of documents detailing the Bitely heritage. The materials she gave me was helpful for pointing my path forward, but it lacked the necessary vital records for completing the application. Luckily, each chapter has a registrar that guides you through finding the right resources and completing the paperwork accurately. The registrar in my chapter was a seasoned member of DAR and walked me step by step through the process. Together, we reviewed the documents from my box, made a family tree and contacted the Michigan vital records department for appropriate birth, death and marriage certificates for each generation between John and me. Thankfully, both New York and Michigan had the records I needed, in good condition and had the required information on them to meet DAR standards. If you hit a snag in the process, there’s an entire community of DAR women who are trained to help you through this. Reach out, we will help!

Here is a sample of the documents passed down to me in the family history box. This helped start the journey for learning more about my heritage.
Continue reading “Find Your Patriot, Part 2”

Finding Your Patriot

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Kate Bitely

Part 1

How much do you know about your great-great-great-great-great grandparents? Did your family pass on detailed stories of their past? Perhaps you took a DNA test like ‘23andMe,’ or maybe you know little if anything about your roots. Whatever the case may be, now is a great time to start the journey of learning about your familial past, as it might just lead you to an unexpected destination. For me, I grew up knowing my distant relative, John Biteley Sr., a New Yorker who come to the U.S. from Germany in the 1750’s. His American born son, John Biteley Jr., went on to serve as a patriot in the American Revolution. My grandfather, Ralph Bitely, always told us, “the Bitely’s were at Ticonderoga!”  In 2010, my grandfather passed away. A few years after his death, my grandmother gave me a box filled with documents that detail the history of the Bitelys. This box would be the start of my journey back to the 18th century.

As I dug through the box a few years ago, I recall being filled with excitement as I learned about my family. They were farmers, predominately grape farmers to be exact. (My love for wine is clearly hereditary). As I dug deeper, I found a more modern picture of the “Bitely Homestead,” the home of John Biteley Sr., located in Saratoga County, NY. It was first built before the war around 1770, was burned down by Gen. John Burgoyne in 1777 and was rebuilt in 1779. Nearby remains a family cemetery where many of my relatives remain. While I have not been for a visit yet, I hope to make a trip soon when conditions are safe to do so.

Photo of the “Bitely Homestead” in Moreau, NY rebuilt in 1779 after the British burned down the original structure in 1777 found inside the box from my grandmother.
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The Shot Heard in Youngstown?

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes historian Dan Welch

As we commemorate the 244th anniversary of the engagements at Lexington and Concord, it is an opportunity to reflect upon this moment’s importance in American history. The results of what happened in April 1775 were truly “heard around the world.” The importance of those events are commemorated and remembered in various forms across the fabric our country. This holds true, even in Youngstown, Ohio.

The Road to Remembrance Memorial on the southside of Youngstown, Ohio. (Image courtesy of the author)

As the country grappled with the effects of the Great Depression, numerous civic organizations in the state of Ohio sought to construct a “Road of Remembrance” in honor of the servicemen from the country’s previous conflict. On June 17, 1930, the state legislature designated a portion of Route 193 from Lake Erie to 422 in Youngstown as a memorial roadway in honor of those soldiers who gave their last full measure of devotion during the Great War. Many towns planted memorial trees along the route, some erected monuments, while other organizations held ceremonies marking the occasion. This special route was to be just a small portion of remembrance that was to span from Montreal, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading “The Shot Heard in Youngstown?”

Standing on a Street Corner…

Now I know what you are thinking…the famous song by The Eagles. But, no.

Corner where Fort Gatlin once stood, Gatlin Avenue is running left to right, South Summerlin is off the right of the photo. Historical marker sign on left side of photo, D.A.R stone marker across street (to the right of the Jeep in the driveway) 

Continuing a theme from the last post, military history in Orlando, I did find myself standing on a street corner, South Summerlin Avenue and Gaitlin Avenue. That is when I noticed the small stone marker, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Placed next to a hedge, on the corner of a driveway, sits until recently, the only reminder of this former military installation. Around this fort sprung a small county that became the county seat of Orange County, Florida by 1856. Which grew into Orlando.

An 1844 survey of Orange County, depicting Fort Gatlin (courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records and The Florida Historical Society

Constructed on November 9, 1838, by Lieutenant Alexander Fanning and four companies of the 4th U.S. Artillery, the post was one of several built across the breadth of central Florida during the Second Seminole War. Named in honor of Dr. John S. Gatlin, who had been killed in Major Dade’s Massacre on December 28, 1835. After completing the post, which was situated on a rise that commanded three lakes, Lt. Fanning and three companies departed, leaving 1st Lieutenant F.E. Hunt.

After June 1839, the United States Army had abandoned the post, yet state militia continue to garrison the wooden ramparts. A brief return in October 1849 by the army led to it becoming an active post, briefly, until the soldiers left shortly thereafter.

One side of informational panel of the Eagle Scout project for Fort Gatlin

Abandoned, besides the stone marker, until recently. A great Eagle Scout project produced a wooden two-panel history of Fort Gatlin, Native American history, early settlers, and the 2nd Seminole War. This stands on the same corner as the Florida historical marker and across the intersection from the Daughters of the American Revolution stone marker.

And standing for one day, a man on astreet corner, looking for history, a fine sight to see.



DAR Exhibit Showcases Rev War Material Culture

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) are showcasing a collection of unique historical objects tied to the Revolutionary War. The exhibit, “Remembering the American Revolution: 1776-1890,” opened at the DAR Museum on October 9 and will run through September 3, 2016.

“The exhibition explores how people following the fight for independence preserved, made, and bought items in order to retain a connection to the war,” the museum said in a recent press release. “More than 100 objects from the DAR Museum collection, and the many personal stories that accompany them, help visitors learn about the American Revolution in a whole new light.” Continue reading “DAR Exhibit Showcases Rev War Material Culture”