Jefferson Township: Sons' Benjamin Franklin Chapter to mark graves of four Revolution soldiers

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Donald Miller, president the Sons of the American Revolution's Benjamin Franklin Chapter, poses in period dress at Fort Laurens in Bolivar.

A grave-marking ceremony for four American Revolutionary War soldiers will be held by the Sons of the American Revolution's Benjamin Franklin Chapter at two Jefferson Township cemeteries beginning at noon June 19.

Donald Miller, president of the Benjamin Franklin Chapter, said Sons of the American Revolution became incorporated Jan, 17, 1890, with its purpose being threefold: patriotism, history and education.

He said this includes perpetuating the memory of American Revolutionary War patriots, preserving their records and marking the locations of the revolution, its locations and soldiers.

The Sons of the American Revolution is the leading male lineage society that promotes the ideals of the war for independence, the value of patriotism, respect for American citizenship and the concept of "e pluribus unum" (out of many, one), made real by people from many backgrounds who had formed a single nation, according to its website.

Miller said the Daughters of the American Revolution has been invited to the grave-marking ceremonies, which are open to the public and will begin with the posting of the colors of the American flag and others.

In addition to an invocation and keynote speaker, a short biography of the patriot is read if information is available.

“We present wreaths to honor the patriot and place an SAR marker at the grave of the patriot,” Miller said.

Taps is played, and a musket salute is fired with all ceremony participants in period dress. 

About the soldiers

The June 19 marking will start with Matthias Dague Sr., whose remains are buried in the Dague Cemetery, 4758 E. Johnstown Road.

Dague was born June 25, 1761, to Johann Dague and Anna Geysler in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, according to Miller.

In 1776, at the time of his enlistment and at age 15, Dague lived in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and joined the Washington County militia.

He served under Capt. Crook for nine months in the defense of the frontier at Lindley’s Fort in Pennsylvania (different from Lindley's Fort in South Carolina) against hostile Native Americans, according to Miller.

He also served four months under Capt. Hook at Atkinsons Fort, Pennsylvania (different from Fort Atkinson in Nebraska).

He then served under Capt. Brinton and Col. Crawford, performing spying and scouting missions until the end of the war.

Dague obtained his military land grant and moved to what is now called Jefferson Township in 1806, Miller said.

Dague applied for his pension in 1832 and on his application said he was at Fort Laurens (Ohio’s only Revolutionary War fort) during the 1778 building of the fort, according to Miller.

Dague died Feb. 16, 1847, in Jefferson Township.

Three other soldiers will be honored afterward at Ayers Cemetery, 2591 Darling Road in Jefferson Township, about a quarter-mile north of Havens Road.  

Thomas Ayers was born Jan, 14, 1768, to James and Sarah Ayers in New Jersey, according to Miller, who said his records show Ayers served under Capt. James Bonnell in the Jersey levies as a private to guard Sussex County against the Native Americans and Tories.

Miller said Ayers had served with Crane’s Troops of Horse. He also served in the War of 1812.

Ayers is listed among the early settlers of Jefferson Township, according to Miller, and died there Dec., 30 1847.

John Johnson was born Sept, 13, 1764, in New Jersey and served with the New Jersey militia, listed in the “Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War,” Miller said.

He died June 21, 1839, in Jefferson Township.

Miller said the fourth soldier, Andrew Hanna, was in Jefferson Township in 1834 and might have come from South Carolina. He was born in 1764 and died in 1849. Miller said he still is searching for information about Hanna.

Miller said there’s no time frame on how often the Benjamin Franklin Chapter marks graves.

Westerville resident Steve Kelley, a member of the chapter, said he participates in a grave-marking ceremony at least once a year. 

“We’ve identified over 5,000 patriots in Ohio who have served in the American Revolution,” he said. “It’s a privilege and honor to identify a patriot who made a contribution to forming the United States 200 years ago and ended up on land we all occupy today.”

Recognizing contributions is an honor and helps keep history alive, Kelley said.

"I get laughed at when I drive by a cemetery with old stones because my head turns, and the kids say to keep your eyes on the road," he said.

Kelley said he has been involved for more than 10 years and has traveled throughout Ohio and West Virginia to perform the honors.

“Why I think Don and I have adopted the (period) uniforms is so we can add some authenticity – ghosts form the past," he said.

Miller said it does take a great deal of time. 

“I started January 2020 for this one,” he said.

Miller said the chapter also hopes to inspire the community with a reverence for the principles of government founded by forefathers, in addition to carrying out the purpose of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution.

The Benjamin Franklin Chapter is part of the Ohio Society Sons of the American Revolution and National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and serves the city of Columbus and central Ohio, including Delaware, Franklin, Licking, Madison and Union counties.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla