PAGEVILLE, Ohio — The winding gravel road leading to Pageville Cemetery was strewn with leaves of orange, red and brown falling from trees lining the path. At the top of the hill was the cemetery, where a light wind blew numerous flags placed to honor Continental soldier Private Robert Townsend.
Such was the setting on the afternoon of October 17, 2021, when members of the Sons of the American Revolution (S.A.R.) and the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) came together for the grave marking ceremony of Townsend, one of first veterans of what would become the United States of America.
Townsend’s service records indicate he served four years under the immediate command of General George Washington.
The Massachusetts Office of the Secretary of State Archives of Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War lists him as a private in Burton’s Company, Sherburne’s Regiment, serving with the Continental Troops during the American Revolutionary War.
Born in a part of Massachusetts that later became Kennebec County, Maine on 22, February, 1755, he was married twice and the father of eight children. The Census of 1840 records him living with his daughter in Dowington, Ohio until his death on 10, April, 1846.
Keynote speaker Brian Ash, whose personal genealogical research identified of Townsend’s Revolutionary War connection, said, “The process of marker placement helps us become more acquainted with the life history, struggles, and service of individuals who served and sacrificed to gain the freedoms we now enjoy.”
Ash observed, “Physically placing a marker at a patriot’s gravesite is a tangible way to express gratitude for service, and to keep the patriot’s memory alive for those in the future. “
Ash continued, “Although we may not know him personally, we can still know a few things about him. He was brave. He chose to defend his country, his homeland, and family at great personal risk. He was a true American in the sense that he valued the ideals and freedoms upon which our country would be formed, and that he was committed.”
The ceremony included a number of S.A.R. and D.A.R. grave marking traditions, such as the Presentation of Colors, and a three-round volley with 18th Century style flintlocks performed by the S.A.R. Honor Guard led by Ohio State S.A.R. Commander Robert Hill.
S.A.R. Lt. George Ewing Chapter conducted the ceremonies, with Chaplain Dale Colburn presenting the invocation and benediction. The Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. Flag was led by Jim Smith. President Scott Moody and Smith led S.A.R. members in the opening pledge.
D.A.R. Return Jonathan Meigs Chapter Regent Gina Tillis and Smith led the group in reciting the American Creed, and welcoming and introducing members of the S.A.R. and D.A.R. present at the ceremony.
Moody also recognized the Color Guard and gave opening remarks for the service. Tillis gave the opening remarks for the D.A.R.
The Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution are national societies whose members are direct descendants to those who served in the Revolutionary War.
One of their ongoing commitments of both organizations is to locate and mark previously unrecognized Revolutionary War soldiers’ gravesites. Information on how to become part of locating these gravesites will be presented in an upcoming article.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer who lives in Southern Ohio. She can be reached at L.Faudree.Hart@gmail.com.