The SAR Magazine

Winter 2018

The SAR MAGAZINE is the official quarterly publication of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution published quarterly.

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WINTER 2017 13 lies in Grace Episcopal Churchyard in Jamaica, New York. His stone is weathered, and one can barely make out his name. His many contributions to our country go unrecorded at his gravesite. Just a block or two away, King Manor, once a rural plantation, now stands in a small park in an urban setting, open as a museum. It is a shame his grave has not been moved to this more attractive spot. Neglect and decay weren't the only problems we encountered. Many of the graves of our Founding Fathers are on private property and are inaccessible. Declaration of Independence signers William Paca and Francis Lightfoot Lee of Virginia fall into this category. So, too, does John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States. We tried to visit Paca's grave on an estate on Maryland's eastern shore. Unfortunately, we could not find a way to gain entrance. Lee's grave is on the Mt. Airy Plantation, which was open to the public in the past, but is now overgrown and run-down. It appears no one is maintaining the grounds. Jay's tomb is within a private graveyard, which is open to the public only on special occasions. Francis Lightfoot Lee's famous brother, Richard Henry Lee, who provided the motion for the vote for independence, is buried in a soybean field in rural Virginia, near where his plantation burned down many years ago. While the grave is well-maintained, it is extremely hard to reach. Declaration signer Carter Braxton of Virginia apparently has no grave. It seems that when his family's graves were moved from the family cemetery in Chericoke to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, his remains could not be found. We also could not locate the grave of Daniel of Saint Thomas Jenifer, who is reportedly buried near Port Tobacco, Maryland. He was a Constitution signer, a close friend of Benjamin Franklin and a member of the Continental Congress. We spent considerable time and made inquiries of locals, but could not find his grave or any mention of him. Thomas Mifflin of Pennsylvania served in both Continental Congresses and as its president, and was Pennsylvania's first governor as well as a signer of the Constitution. He died in debt and was buried at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at state expense. When the church cemetery was abolished and the graves relocated, Mifflin's remained. All there is to commemorate him is a small plate erected by the DAR on the exterior of the church. The exact location of his remains is unclear, but it appears they may be under a macadam parking lot. After seeing about a third of these graves, we have come up with a rating system to evaluate the condition, location, accessibility and information associated with them. We will soon publish these findings and photographs on our upcoming website, www. AdoptAPatriot.com . We hope to call attention to those Founding Fathers' graves that are weather-beaten and difficult to read or are in obscure, hard-to-find or hard- to-reach locations. Many, we feel, are undermemorialized, given their role in our history. We understand that each grave situation is unique, on land either privately owned or owned by government organizations. We also appreciate that different organizations have made investments in the past to better recognize these Patriots. While much of that work is still bearing fruit, much remains to be done! Hopefully, we can help rally local support to take on some of these situations. Another idea we have been tossing around is the possible relocation of some of these neglected graves, or those on private property, to what we call a Founders Garden. We first thought a good location would be Independence Hall or Arlington National Cemetery or even Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. More recently, we thought multiple regional sites might be more appealing: perhaps Boston, Philadelphia, Virginia and Charleston. In any event, we think many of these graves should either be restored or relocated for our country's 250th birthday in 2026. The idea of a corporation or organization adopting a grave or graves and funding the action has also been discussed and seems like a viable idea. Congress recently formed a Semiquincentennial Commission to plan our country's 250th birthday celebration. Assuring proper memorialization of our heroes would make a nice and lasting gift to our nation. Over the next couple of years, we will continue traveling, speaking and writing about what we find, to increase awareness of the condition of these graves. We think there will likely be three books in the Graves of Our Founders series. We hope to update you with our findings in future editions of this magazine. Joe Farrell and Joe Farley, also known as "The Joes," are the authors or co-authors of 16 books, with more on the way, all published by Sunbury Press. They are available for talks to organizations. If you are interested in inviting them to speak to your organization, please contact publicity@sunburypress.com. Compatriot Lawrence Knorr (#152547–Harris Ferry Chapter) owns Sunbury Press, and is the author or co-author of 17 books, including several with The Joes. Knoor has also functioned as The Joes' navigator and photographer. WINTER 2018 17

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