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A salute for unsung Revolutionary War patriot

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Dressed as if the year was 1776, these Sons of the American Revolution officials tip their hats at a marker dedicated to Henry Williamson, a soldier who served in as many as five important battles during America’s fight for freedom against the British.
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Led by Mark Kreps, historian for the Indiana Sons of the American Revolution, a solemn parade of participants leaves a ceremony Saturday at the Garden of Memories Veteran Memorial in Knightstown honoring soldier Henry Williamson, who is buried in Henry County.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

On a bright, blue sky-filled day that had freedom written all over it, more than 75 people gathered in Knightstown to express gratitude for a previously unknown Revolutionary patriot who lived out his final days here.

Approximately 187 years after he died northeast of Knightstown, Henry Williamson’s patriotic valor was celebrated with the unveiling of a marker, a military gun salute and a solemn parade of dignitaries who paused and tipped their Revolutionary War hats in his honor.

The ceremony at the Garden of Memories Veterans Memorial in Knightstown was like a walk back in time, as many participants donned clothes fitting for 1776.

Mark Kreps, an historian for the Indiana Sons of the American Revolution, said the occasion was special in many ways.

“It’s very unique,” Kreps said. “This man provided service early on that actually affected our independence. He was involved in service before the Declaration of Independence was ever signed. He’s a treasure that has been rather unknown up until this time. He’s one more unsung hero that now we can look to and share those records.”

Kreps said the official papers show Williamson enlisting in the first New Jersey regiment and participating in battles at Germantown, Princeton, Trenton and Morristown. Those papers will now be kept at the Henry County Historical Society Museum.

Kaye Ford, executive director of the local historical society and Henry County chapter regent for the Daughters of the American Revolution, also spoke at Saturday’s ceremony. She said Williamson now joins his rightful place among more than 30 others known to have served in the Revolutionary War and who are now buried in Henry County.

“The wreath we leave is not to decorate this patriot’s death, but to remember his life and his sacrifices for this great country,” Ford said. “The wreath we leave is a gift of sincere appreciation from a grateful country.”

Ford said although the exact location is unknown, Williamson is believed to have been buried on a family farm northeast of Knightstown.

“We found that his probate was started but not finished,” she said. “We think the family moved on to Illinois before finishing it.”

As many as 10 organizations from all parts of Indiana were represented in Saturday’s solemn ceremony. The list included Kevin Waldroup, president of the Indiana Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

“Today is a great opportunity for us as an organization to preserve and honor our heritage and the sacrifices our ancestors made,” Waldroup said. “And partner with organizations in this community to do that same thing.”

The bright, sunny weather, served as a most appropriate backdrop in the eyes of April Legler of Bloomington, who is the national vice chair of historic preservation for the Daughters of American Revolution.

“It’s a wonderful day and it’s a moving ceremony to be part of,” she said. “Our ancestors didn’t experience much of this. They were trodding in the mud and camping in the freezing cold so we could enjoy days like this. It’s a small thing for us to be able to do something like this is their memory.”

The new marker is now on display at the Garden of Memories Veteran Memorial, located on N. Washington Street, one block north of U.S. 40.