Revolutionary War veterans honored
Although the event was centered around Mound Cemetery, where the remains of 37 of the veterans are buried – the greatest concentration of such men anywhere in the country – the group of about 40 people who attended had to retreat to the Legacy Library at Marietta College when a cloudburst struck at the beginning of the proceedings.
Costumed re-enactors, many bearing muskets and swords, trudged with historians, members of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution and troops of Scouts from the Muskingum Valley Council of Zanesville down Fifth Street to the college. In a room on the library’s third floor, wreaths were dedicated to the memories of the late 18th century patriots who were the founding force in establishing Marietta, the college and the Northwest Territory, the first westward expansion of the United States after independence.
“The Ohio Company left their homes for life on the frontier,” said keynote speaker William Ruud, president of Marietta College. “They created the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the model for the Bill of Rights. We should be proud of that, we should be bragging to the rest of the world about it. I’ve lived here for three years, and I brag about Marietta everywhere I go.”
Ruud read out names of some of those families – the Putnams, Cutlers – and noted that they are well known in the city.
“Their bravery, they were our earliest entrepreneurs, we all know about them, and that bond comes down to the present day trailblazers,” he said. The provisions in the Northwest Ordinance for education, revered by the city’s founders, have reverberated through the centuries at the college, he said.
“They taught their children Latin and Greek, mathematics, a curriculum to accomplish intellectual discipline,” he said. “We have made some changes to the curriculum since then, but our soul is still intact.”
Patricia James-Hasser and her 90-year-old father, Richard James, drove down from Mansfield to attend the event. She traces her family history back to Stephen Devol, whose family moved to Marietta from New England during its founding period, coming down the Ohio in a ship they named the Mayflower. Devol, she said, took up boat building and crafted the first ocean-going vessel built during Marietta’s shipbuilding era.
“If I had known about our family roots when I was younger, I might have been more interested in history in school,” she said.
Ed Cromley, dressed in Revolutionary War red, white and blue woolen coat and breeches, and a black tricorn hat, was a member of the color guard. He attended from Point Pleasant, W.Va.
“One of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, he was in the battle of Point Pleasant, and I do this to honor him and all the people who fought to create this fine country,” he said.
The re-enactment, he said, is a way of reminding himself and others what life was like in that period of history.
“It’s important to remember how difficult it was to do anything, the most ordinary things, at that time, and to remember that our ancestors even in the face of that defeated the greatest army in the world,” he said.
The memorial event comes just a week before the heavily anticipated visit to Marietta of author David McCullough, whose book “The Pioneers” was published earlier this month. McCullough, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, spent nearly three years researching the founding of Marietta, the creation of the Northwest Ordinance and the biographies of some of its prominent early citizens. The book is expected to put Marietta in the national spotlight.
Both the Marietta College library and the Campus Martius Museum have exhibits centered on the book’s themes.
Historian Jean Yost, who helped organize the Thursday event, said there is a palpable sense of excitement about the attention McCullough has focused on the area.
“The book has been good, it helps us in what we’re doing,” he said. “The Start Westward monument work, which is a monument to all pioneers, the Northwest Ordinance, which made everyone equal under the law and set aside ground for education and religion, one of the three great documents, along with the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence … we hope this will get us the attention we need.”
• Created around a complex of earthworks believed to have been made by the Hopewell people between 1,500 and 2,100 years ago.
• Burial place of 37 Revolutionary War veterans.
• First to be buried was Col. Robert Taylor in 1801.
Source: Marietta chapter of Sons of the American Revolution.