Patriots Grave Marking Service

by | May 18, 2016 | History, Michigan | 9 comments

On May 14th Chuck and I attended a Patriots Grave Marking Service to honor Revolutionary War veterans Josiah Cutler and Benjamin Woodruff.  Phil Jackson with the Huron Valley Chapter of the Michigan Society Sons of the American Revolution (MiSSAR) invited us to the event to take pictures. It was my first Patriots Grave Marking Service and I am a bit embarrassed to say, prior to this event, I didn’t know much about the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) or the origins of the various tributes performed during the event.

Patriots Grave Marking Service

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

The Veterans

As was the custom in the early 19th century, the veterans were buried immediately after their death. This did not allow for military honors. The ceremony on Saturday was the equivalent of a funeral with full military honors.

Taken from the proclamations signed by the City of Ann Arbor’s mayor, Christopher Taylor:

Josiah Cutler was born on September 1, 1761 in Brookfield, Worcester County, Massachusetts. He enlisted four times beginning in January 1778 and served for approximately four years, 10 months during which time he fought in the Battle of Kingsbridge and stormed the redoubt at Yorktown, Virginia under the command of General Lafayette.Corporal Josiah Cutler was honorably discharged from the Second Massachusetts Regiment on January 4, 1784. He moved to Pittsfield Township, Michigan in April 1840 where he died at the age of 78 on June 24, 1840 and was buried in the Whitmore/Pioneer Cemetery in Pittsfield Township. On April 14, 1886, his remains were moved to Forest.


Benjamin Woodruff was born on November 26, 1744 in Hanover Township, Morris County, New Jersey. He first enlisted in 1776 as a drummer and multiple times afterwards as a Sergeant in the New Jersey Militia where he fought in the battles of Elizabethtown and Springfield and the skirmish at Acquacvkanonk.  Sergeant Woodruff served honorably until the end of the war for or a total of approximately two years. At the age of 92 he traveled to Pittsfield Township, Michigan, where he died shortly before his 93rd birthday on October 18, 1837. He was buried in the Whitmore/Pioneer Cemetery in Pittsfield Township and his remains were moved to Forest Hill Cemetery approximately 50 years later.

Both veterans had direct descendants in the audience. Some traveled from Chicago and Traverse City to participate in the ceremony. And many were meeting for the first time.

Welcome and Greetings

Phil Jackson, Huron Valley Chapter SAR

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Posting of Colors and Standards

The ceremony included the presentation of colors by the SAR State Color Guard dressed in Revolutionary War period uniforms. Gerald Burkland, Michigan Society SAR, was the Color Guard Commander.

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016


Thomas Pleuss, Chaplain, Huron Valley Chapter

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016


Kate Kirkpatrick from the Sarah Caswell Angell Chapter, DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016


Thomas Woodruff and Frank Ticknor, direct descendants of the veterans shared a bit of history about the veterans.

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Unveiling of Grave Marker

New memorial markers were installed on their graves.

Benjamin Woodruff

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Josiah Cutler

Josiah Cutler’s headstone was restored prior the event.

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Our Nations Tribute (folding of the flag)

During the folding of the flag, a recitation was said to describe the symbols for the folds after which there was a presentation of the flag to the veterans descendants.

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016
HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016
HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016
HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Military Tribute (Gun Salute)

The Indiana Society Color Guard, the Ohio Society Color Guard and veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County performed the military tribute of three rifle volleys.

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Sword Salute

The Color Guard tipped their hats to honor the patriot and bowed in humility for the person’s service to us and the country.

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Sounding of Taps

Ralph Harris was the Bugler on Saturday and he did a fine job too.

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016
I can’t help but get choked up when I hear those haunting notes. During the ceremony the history of the Taps was shared. I didn’t write it down, but I found this on the Taps Bugler Website 

As the story goes, General Butterfield was not pleased with the call for Extinguish Lights, feeling that the call was too formal to signal the days end, and with the help of the brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton (1839-1920), wrote Taps to honor his men while in camp at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, following the Seven Days battle. These battles took place during the Peninsular Campaign of 1862. The new call, sounded that night in July, 1862, soon spread to other units of the Union Army and was reportedly also used by the Confederates. Taps was made an official bugle call after the war.

Musical Tribute (Bagpipe)

Herm Steinman from Ann Arbor

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Floral Tributes

Huron Valley Chapter SAR – John Critchett, President

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Indiana Society Ladies Auxiliary Donna Sharp, President with Indian Society SAR – William E. Sharp, Trustee

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Ohio Society SAR – Don McGraw, President

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Michigan Society CAR – Madden Brady, President

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Sarah Caswell Angell Chapter DAR – Carla Sosa, Historian

HVCSAR - Patriots Grave Marking - 14-May-2016

Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)

The National Society for the Sons of the American Revolution website is jammed with great information. Here is a little bit of what I found describing the SAR:

In 1876 there were many celebrations to commemorate the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. As part of this patriotic fervor, a group of men in the San Francisco, California, area who were descendants of patriots involved in the American Revolution, formed an organization called the Sons of Revolutionary Sires. Their objective was to have a fraternal and civic society to salute those men and women who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the battle for independence from Great Britain. They desired to keep alive their ancestors’ story of patriotism and courage in the belief that it is a universal one of man’s struggle against tyranny — a story which would inspire and sustain succeeding generations when they would have to defend and extend our freedoms.

Out of the Sires grew the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, which was organized on April 30, 1889 — the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington as our nation’s first President. We have used the acronym SAR to identify ourselves for over 100 years. The SAR was conceived as a fraternal and civic society composed of lineal descendants of the men who wintered at Valley Forge, signed the Declaration of Independence, fought in the battles of the American Revolution, served in the Continental Congress, or otherwise supported the cause of American Independence. The National Society was chartered by an Act of the United States Congress on June 9, 1906. The charter was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a member of the SAR. The charter authorizes the granting of charters to societies of the various states and territories and authorizes the state societies to charter chapters within their borders.<ahref=”″ target=”_blank”> Federal Legislation that established a federal charter for the National Society SAR.

More Pictures

We’ve more pictures in our gallery. We don’t mind if you download the pictures and share on your favorite social media sites, but please give Chuck or LifeInMichigan photo credit and don’t remove the watermark.

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