honor Revolutionary War soldiers
leads to dedication ceremony
for soldier buried near Goshen, Ky.
Helen E. McKinney
GOSHEN, Ky. (October 2008) When Bill Otter
discovered an ancestor that he didnt even know about who was buried
on the property adjacent to his, it was as if he had found the missing
piece of a large puzzle. A chance meeting with a distant cousin, Jim
Hannigan, made Otter realize he was an indirect descendant of a Revolutionary
2008 Indiana & Kentucky Edition Cover
Today, the 86-year-old Otter lives on what was once part
of John Austins farm on Shiloh Lane near Goshen, Ky. Austin lived
from 1736 to 1845 and was an affluent soldier during the turbulent years
of the American Revolution (1775-1783). Austin is one of many long forgotten
heroes of a battle that secured the freedoms Americans enjoy today.
Austins grave has lain unmarked for decades, prompting Otter to
believe he was being denied his place in history, he said.
The people in Oldham County had forgotten about Austin. Something
of value was lost for a time.
Austin lived to be 109 years old and was buried on a farm that he had
lovingly cared for and tended. In 1796, Austin was asked to guide a
group of settlers to Clark County, Ind., and bought his second wife
and children with him. He happened upon a site across the river in Oldham
County and spoke to some squatters who told him that if he would guard
the land for the man who held the deed, the man would give him a tract
Many individuals tried to take the land from him, said Otter. Austin
was in litigation over the land until age 107. He deeded the land to
a son, and upon the sons death in the 1870s, it was sold to a
neighboring family, the Henshaws. They, in turn, gave a piece of land
to one of their freed slaves.
This tract was eventually purchased by a real estate agent and subdivided.
Otter owns 23 acres of this land, and his neighbors, the Diebels, own
the land containing the original family cemetery.
Even though Otter is not a direct descendant of Austin, it was important
to him to have his gravesite marked with a ceremony by the Sons of the
American Revolution. I believe there are only two graves in Oldham
County proven to belong to Revolutionary War soldiers, said Otter.
Both men are buried on Shiloh Lane off of Hwy. 42.
The second patriot, Commodore Richard Taylor, is buried on land currently
owned by Robert Hancock, which shares a common boundary with Otters
land. In November, a team of University of Kentucky researchers plan
to visit the property that once belonged to Taylor to conduct an electronic
study of the land.
This 175-acre property touches the river and Shiloh Lane. Otter said
an important factor in researching these patriots of the past is the
tie between Taylor, Austin and a third Revolutionary War soldier, John
Armstrong, who is buried across the river in Clark County, Ind.
by April Wilson
Otter, 88, stands
next to the grave of
soldier John Austin.
Austins grave is
located on land
adjacent to his own
along on Shiloh Lane
in Goshen, Ky.
The men were tied together historically, said
Otter. There is a direct connection between three Revolutionary
Austin was in four major Revolutionary War battles, but only three were
selected for his Sons of the American Revolution plaque, said the Rev.
Forrest B. Chilton. Chilton is president of the Gov. Isaac Shelby S.A.R.
Chapter, which performed a memorial ceremony on Aug. 27. A patriots
name, rank, unit and time of service are inscribed upon the bronze memorial
plaque placed at their gravesite.
Chilton finds that many community and family cemeteries are in
a deplorable condition. He said these plots should be looked upon
as hallowed grounds but instead are often overrun with weeds, brambles
and briars. This makes it hard to find the graves. Many times, the graves
lay in cow pastures, where the stones are overturned and broken.
About 12 sites have been marked this year by Chilton and his chapter.
Twenty-two sites were marked last year. Chilton is chairman of the state
Color Guard and Patriot Graves Chairman for the Kentucky Society of
the Sons of the American Revolution.
The first requirement for marking a grave is that documented information
must be compiled upon the patriot ancestors service. A descendant
must purchase the eight inch bronze SAR patriot grave marker at a cost
of $147. Additional costs may be incurred if the patriots headstone
Chiltons own patriot ancestors, George and Steven Chilton, are
buried in Woodford County, Ky. George was in the Battle of Yorktown,
while his brother, Steven, was taken captive at Ruddles Station
on June 8, 1780, and marched to Detroit with a group of captured settlers.
Fellow SAR member Charlie Scott, 69, is a fifer for the Gov. Isaac Shelby
S.A.R. Chapter. Were a very active chapter, said Scott.
Our chapter conducts a lot of memorial ceremonies. Like
Chilton and many others, Scott has spent countless hours researching
his own ancestors.
He knows that his patriot ancestor Thomas Scott (1754-1834) is buried
somewhere in Henry County. Thomas Scott was in the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Ive been there and stood at the site where the troops came
up the mountain, said Scott. Hes also visited Greensboro,
N.C., where his ancestor lived for a time.
There is a Thomas Scott buried at a Baptist Church in Drennon, but its
not the patriot ancestor Scott seeks. It would mean a lot to find this
lost grave and have a service to properly mark it, said
provided the National Society of SAR
left, Edmund N. Myles, Commander Emeritus, Gov. Isaac Shelby Chapter
Color Guard, and Noble L. Roberts, CHaplain, present the national
colors to John Austin descendant William Otter of Goshen, Ky.
Below, Charles E. Scott Jr. plays the fife during the ceremony.
The National Headquarters for the Sons of the American
Revolution is located at 1000 S. Fourth St., in Louisville. The building
contains a general reference library and museum of art and artifacts
from the colonial and Revolutionary War period.
There are 50 state societies with more than 450 local or regional SAR
chapters. With 27,500 members, the organization is steadily growing.
The interest in locating Revolutionary War era patriot ancestors is
one that a lot of people share. Genealogy is one of the fastest
growing interests right now, said Colleen Wilson, Director of
Education for the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
It answers the age-old questions, Who am I? and Where
did I come from?
Wilson said people want to know what people accomplished in the
past that were related to them. This direct human connection is
what spurs them on in their quest to locate an ancestor and have him
honored so that others will also note the significance of the patriots
sacrifices. History takes on a whole new meaning, when an
individual can personally relate to someone or some event that has happened
in the past, said Wilson.
Joe Harris, NSSAR Executive Director, said it is rewarding to work with
family members who are proud of their heritage. The goal of the
SAR boils down to three things; its a patriotic, educational and
historical lineage organization.
Harris, originally from the Yadkin Valley area of North Carolina, became
interested in the SAR through the advice of his mother. Their common
ancestor, Capt. Samuel Johnson (1757-1834), was enlisted in the Wilkes-Surry
County Militia of North Carolina. Harris added to and documented his
mothers knowledge about their ancestor.
He found it a neat tie-in to the ending of my military career,
he said. When he considered the sacrifices associated with his career,
it seemed fitting to honor an ancestor who had fought for the same goals
and with whom he shared a patriotic sense of duty.
The SAR organization, except for a few paid staff members, is comprised
of volunteers. Their current focus is on educational outreach programs.
In an effort to expand this programming, the NSSAR has purchased two
buildings on Main Street in Louisville, said Wilson. This enlarged space
will provide the organization with more opportunities to reach the public
and stir up interest in long forgotten heroes of the Revolutionary War
period. The tentative opening date for this new location is 2011.
by Don Ward
Searcy operates the back hoe to remove caskets from the Giltner
family cemetery near Milton, Ky. In all, 38 graves were moved
to another location just east on Nugent Sand property to better
Were restructuring ourselves to enhance others
research, Wilson said. She sees the educational outreach programs
as a way to enrich our cultural community.
The SAR also conducts flag retirement ceremonies for torn or discolored
flags that have borne service to our country. Its our civic
responsibility to retire these flags, she said.
Finding one of these long forgotten patriots is a rare feat because
they migrated here after the Revolutionary War, said Evelyn
Welch, Butler-Turpin Historic House Museum Manager. It was not as if
the patriots were already settled in Kentucky with a family and property
before the war to come home to. This makes finding a grave unique.
Many came to Kentucky to carve out a new life or take possession of
land grants awarded them because of the war. After their service in
the militia, they ended up staying and are buried somewhere, many in
unmarked graves. Im sure there are plenty out there,
Its not as rare to find a soldier who fought in the War of 1812,
Mexican War or Civil War. They settled here then came back home
after the war was over, said Welch.
General Butler State Resort Park has its own patriot buried in the Butler
family cemetery. General Percival Butler, the First Adjutant General
of Kentucky, entered the Revolutionary army as a lieutenant at the age
of eighteen. He was with General George Washington at Valley Forge,
Monmouth and Yorktown. Along with his four brothers, he earned a reputation
for being one of the gallant Butlers of the Revolutionary War,
Along the Ohio River in Carroll County where the Nugent Sand Co. is
located, is the burial ground for another patriot of the American Revolution.
The companys vice president, Steve Schoenig, actually found his
patriot ancestor and sixth-generation great-grandfather buried on the
Revolutionary War soldier Christopher Boyer and his wife, Mary Ann,
rested beneath tall trees and grass until the Nugent Sand Co. cleaned
the property up. The couples ancestors were very prominent in
the Carroll County area and many took a large part in the Civil War
by April Wilson
gravestone of Commodore
Richard Taylor in Goshen, Ky.
One of Christophers daughters married into the Giltner
family and today the graveyard is known as the Giltner Cemetery. An
organization known as the DAR placed a plaque to mark Boyers grave.
Because the cemetery is in such a state of disrepair, the 38 identified
grave sites in late September were moved to a location adjacent to the
Hunters Bottom Cemetery beside St. Peter Lutheran Church, 6147 Hwy.
36 West. There, they can be more easily maintained and out of the way
of Nugent Sands excavation for sand and gravel. The company hired
Searcy monuments and Tandy-Eckler-Riley Funeral Home to move the stones
We have a list of 38 known graves that are located here, but there
could be 20 or 30 more that are unmarked, said Rob Riley of Tandy-Eckler-Riley.
Most of the coffins were wood or wood with metal lids or all metal.
Many of them have deteriorated. We have also found human remains.
The known graves date from 1829 to 1901 and include family names Giltner,
Boyer, Hoagland, Spillman, and Yager, among others.
Carrollton, Ky., resident Nancy Jo Grobmyer, has been a member of the
Polly Hawkins Craig Chapter of DAR member since 1948. She said that
finding a patriots grave is rare but rewarding. One of her patriot
ancestors, William Tandy Sr., is buried in the Ghent (Ky.) Cemetery.
Belonging to such organizations as the DAR or SAR is enjoyable, said
Grobmyer. Above all else, Its patriotic.
Editor Don Ward contributed to this report.
For more information on the Sons of the American Revolution, visit:
To learn more about the Daughters of the American Revolution, visit
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