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It’s July 4th- Do You Know Your Revolutionary War Ancestors?

 

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson working on the Declaration of Independence, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900.
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson working on the Declaration of Independence, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900.

It was July 2, 1776 in hot Philadelphia, and a group of delegates to the Second Continental Congress had just committed a treasonous act- they had declared their thirteen American colonies as sovereign states, independent of Great Britain. That treasonous act included a unanimous vote for independence, using a document that had been drafted by a group of five, including Thomas Jefferson, the primary author.

The Assembly Room in Philadelphia's Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.
The Assembly Room in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Most of the delegates to the Continental Congress signed the document that same day, but it was not until July 4th that the remaining delegates approved the document that we now know as the Declaration of Independence. (Some historians believe it was not signed by all until August 2, 1776.)

Original US Declaration of Independence- note differences in wording from today's version.
Original US Declaration of Independence- note differences in wording from today’s version.

The Declaration was read to the public on July 8th, 1776, accompanied by a parade of the battalions participating in the Revolutionary War, which had already been going on for over a year. Gun salutes were punctuated by cheers from the crowds who believed in the revolution. (I assume Loyalists were not in attendance… at least, not for long.)

Pulling Down the Statue of King George III after the Declaration of Independence was read by George Washington to the troops and public in New York City. British gunboats sat in the harbor. By Johannes Adam Simon Oertel.
Pulling Down the Statue of King George III after the Declaration of Independence was read by George Washington to the troops and public in New York City. British gunboats sat in the harbor. Painting by Johannes Adam Simon Oertel, ca. 1859.

John Adams, one of the instigators of revolution, wanted us to celebrate our independence on July 2nd. In a letter to his wife Abigail Adams, on July 3, 1776, he wrote:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

A large celebration did not occur until the first anniversary of the signing. In Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, fireworks, bonfires, 13-gun salutes from harbor ships, patriotic music, candles in the windows of houses, and church bells sang of our new country,  and its promise that:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

 

Tombstone of Heinrich Horn, Horn United Methodist Church Cemetery, Alum Bank, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
Tombstone of Heinrich Horn, Horn United Methodist Church Cemetery, Alum Bank, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

There are many Revolutionary War heroes in our family, and probably many more than we know. Wartime is particularly difficult when it takes place in ALL the areas that people live, as it did during the Revolution- few areas were spared from battles or troop movements. It was a brother vs. brother war as well, because so many of the colonists, including many of our ancestors, were native to England. Following are brief bits of info about three of our Revolutionary War heroes. More details about their lives will be found in upcoming posts.

Daniel-Hemphill (George A. Roberts) Family:

Capt. Audley Paul (1728-1802)- Born in Ireland, he served from 1754 in the French-Indian War through the close of the American Revolution. He was an Ensign in the Virginia Colonial Militia in 1758.

McMurray-Benjamin-Horn Family:

Jonathan Benjamin (1738-1841)- Private, received pension for his service from Licking County, Ohio.

Heinrich Horn (1758-1845)- Born in Germany, Heinrich has a very interesting story that will take a bit to tell in a future post. He did receive a Revolutionary War pension.

I do not know of any portraits of our own Revolutionary War ancestors- any who survived into the 1840s may have had their picture taken.

Time Magazine has a wonderful webpage, Faces of the American Revolution,  that includes some portraits of Revolutionary War soldiers. Additionally, Maureen Taylor, “The Photo Detective,” has written two books that include similar portraits and the stories of these heroes: “The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation” (Vol. 1) and “The Last Muster. Vol. 2  Faces of the American Revolution.” Her article “Ghosts of the Revolution”  about these 80+ year old soldiers was published in the DAR’s American Spirit magazine. She also had a Kickstarter campaign that raised money to make these books into a film, “Revolutionary Voices”: A Last Muster Film.

It is really amazing to see the faces of those who fought and endured so that the United States of America could be a free and democratic country. Two hundred and thirty-eight years later, today is a good day to celebrate, and remember that freedom is never free.

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Declaration_of_Independence. Accessed 7/4/14.

2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States). Accessed 7/4/14.

3) See details of the painting “Pulling Down the Statue of King George” at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Johannes_Adam_Simon_Oertel_Pulling_Down_the_Statue_of_King_George_III,_N.Y.C._ca._1859.jpg. There is a fair amount of ‘artistic license’ in this painting. Accessed 7/4/14.

4) Time Magazine: Faces of the American Revolution at http://lightbox.time.com/2013/07/03/faces-of-the-american-revolution/#1. Accessed 7/4/14.

5) Maureen Taylor’s website: http://www.maureentaylor.com. Her books are available in bookstores as well.

6) “Ghosts of the Revolution”: http://www.maureentaylor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ghosts_of_the_revolution.pdf

 

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
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Headstones of Frederick P. Horn and Hepzibah (Clark) Horn- Sandhill Cemetery, Cedar Co., Iowa

Headstone of Frederick P. Horn in Sandhill Cemetery, near Tipton, Cedar Co., Iowa, prior to restoration.
Headstone of Frederick P. Horn in Sandhill Cemetery, near Tipton, Cedar Co., Iowa, prior to restoration.

We think of today’s society as being so much more mobile than in “the old days,” but Americans have been on the move for generations. Americans moved west after those first steps on the east coast in the 1600s, and continued that westward movement through the 1890s. Exhausted land, crowded conditions, large families with many to inherit and divide the land, cheap land on the frontier, and the freedom of wide open spaces called to our ancestors and enticed them away from the family homestead.

For families, cemeteries had been places of quiet contemplation, a place to go to honor ancestors and stroll on a Sunday. Some cemeteries were like parks with beautiful monuments, and people would stroll the lanes on an afternoon with family and friends, even if they did not have family buried there. In earlier times, people paid for a plot only, not ‘perpetual care’ as is done now. Families were expected to care for the gravesite themselves. Americans on the move, however, caused less family to be nearby to maintain the cemeteries and ancestor headstones, and many fell into disrepair.  The small cemeteries on family land or out in the country were the hardest hit- as family moved away, land was sold, or descendants aged, there was no one around who was able to, or who cared about, maintaining the cemetery. Headstones fell over as graves subsided, stones weathered until they could not be read, or broke into pieces with the freeze-thaw cycles of many winters. Vandalism occurred too- whether during a war or a boring afternoon, stones were broken, thrown around, and defaced by those who had no respect for ancestors “quietly resting.”

People finally began to feel the need to improve our aging cemeteries, in hopes of preserving a part of the past. Headstones were sometimes righted, and even collected and placed along a cemetery wall, such as the cemetery that was a Civil War encampment and ancestor-of-the-enemy headstones were thrown about to allow spaces for tents.

The genealogy resurgence in this country, along with people involved in “Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness” (RAOGK- no longer in existence) and websites like “Find A Grave” have increased interest in, and searching of, old cemeteries for lost ancestors. Our ‘digital age’ has also allowed cemeteries and historical societies to post an index online so that those far away can find where their ancestors are spending their final repose. Cemeteries are now being cared for, often by ‘perfect strangers’, i.e. people not related to anyone in the cemetery.

Headstone of Frederick P. Horn in Sandhil Cemetery, near Tipton, Cedar Co., Iowa, after being repaired.
Headstone of Frederick P. Horn in Sandhil Cemetery, near Tipton, Cedar Co., Iowa, after being repaired.

In some places, it is not known where some of the persons are buried, or which headstone belongs to which gravesite. Some of the old county cemetery listings done by historical societies note a grave in a specific cemetery, but the grave cannot be found- it may be covered by many inches of soil, have eroded away, or may have only been a rock or wooden cross to mark the spot. (We have ancestors that have headstones that cannot be found, but a cemetery listing includes their name.)

When cemeteries are restored, it cannot always be done just the way it was previously, especially if there are no records. The following headstone, for the above Frederick P. Horn’s wife Hepzibah Clark, was repaired and placed facing east, with Frederick’s facing west! (We do not have an image of her completely repaired stone.)

Headstone of Hepzibah (Clark) Horn in Sandhill Cemetery, near Tipton, Cedar Co., Iowa, prior to restoration.
Headstone of Hepzibah (Clark) Horn in Sandhill Cemetery, near Tipton, Cedar Co., Iowa, prior to restoration.

Thank you to all who help families find the final resting place of their loved ones, and to all those who care for those places of quiet repose.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Photos used with permission of photographer, who was paid to take the photos.

2) Find A Grave: findagrave.com.

Please note that not all the information posted on FAG is correct- just like with any other website, one needs additional sources of verification.

3) These photos and family information will be added to the FAG memorials for Frederick P. Horn (Memorial# 52049381) and Hepzibah (Clark) Horn (Memorial# 52049366).

 

Please contact us if you would like a higher resolution image.

Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.