More than 200 years later, this Northwood resident received a long-awaited tribute

At a tribute to Revolutionary War veteran William Wallace in Northwood on Saturday, no one knew why family members in the 19th century chose to leave him behind, under a sad headstone – a large, boring blank rock – while reburied the rest of the family to another site.

This is because city historian Steve Bailey was ill that morning and was unable to attend the ceremony. He is related to Wallace, guessing that the man who died in 1812 was his great-grandfather times eight. Or maybe 10.

He knew the truth. He knew his distant relative loved the outdoors.

“Everyone except William has been moved east to the public cemetery,” Bailey said. “He asked that they not move him. He wanted to stay on the mountain and enjoy the view, so they left him there.

The view at Knowlton Cemetery has rolling hills, trees and grassy fields. Last weekend it included 50 people, there to honor a man who, like so many veterans born in the 18th century, was buried without any mention of anything related to his past.

No name, no dates, no military rank, nothing.

There is now a marker with a deep black inscription on a pristine granite headstone. It reads: “William Wallace, 1st Lieutenant, Drew’s Company, 2 NH Regt, 1740-1812”.

“The least we can do is make sure their final resting place is properly marked, Richard Doucet, a member of VFW Post 7217 in Northwood, said in his address to those gathered on an autumn morning. sunny but windy. “We will not rest until all Northwood veterans have their final resting places, the places are properly marked, and their memory is honored.”

It’s a big task, of course. But people like Bailey, Doucet, Daniel Barnhart, the commandant of post 7217, and Sherman Elliott, who was the superintendent of Northwood cemeteries for 40 years, made it possible,

They were and remain determined to go through a daunting process, seeking records at Northwood City Hall and the Washington, DC archives to properly honor those who served in the Revolutionary War.

The buzz started in 2014.

“After the Memorial Day Parade, some members made comments that some of the gravesites were in pretty bad shape,” Doucet said. “We tried to mark the unmarked graves and were told that (veterans) would give you a marker if you could prove they were in the service.”

Members of Post 7217 are proud of their efforts to do the right thing and give back to those who died in the Revolutionary War.

“We’re not one of the most important positions in the state,” said Shannan Brown, the state’s commandant of Veterans of Foreign Wars and the first woman to hold the position in its 116-year history. “But we were the first to do it and now we will continue to do it and try to encourage others to do the same.”

In 2016, VFW Post 7217 was asked to locate John Bickford, who fought in the Revolutionary War. The town hall pay stubs were discovered and sent to the VA in DC. It is mandatory.

“We have to prove to Veterans Affairs that the person actually served and was a paid member of the military,” Barnhart said.

Those payroll records, stored locally, lead to the veteran’s identity in Washington, in a process that took just 90 days for Bickford’s stone to be sent here. This increased in Canterbury.

Saturday’s commemoration was a three-year process before the Wallace Stone was sent to Northwood.

“For Wallace, it was constantly writing, writing; write to these people, write to these people,” Doucet said. “A part was delayed by COVID. Finally, it was confirmed that Wallace was listed on Continental Army rolls, which is the basic information required by the VA.

According to Bailey, the mass exodus, from a cemetery that had only stones as markers, occurred in the mid-1800s. Local records listed the names of the dead buried there, but the exact locations n were not available.

The solitary tombstone, on a steep slope in a family’s backyard, now stands near a stone wall, five layers high. The records indicate that he was buried there, in this cemetery, but the stone does not necessarily mean that he was buried there.

It’s more of a symbol, an acknowledgment that Wallace is buried somewhere in this little family grave, and it’s time to recognize that fact.

Erica and Dave Lee bought their house 22 years ago. The land where these boulders once rested is part of their backyard property.

They welcomed everyone.

“It’s great that all the veterans are recognized,” said David Lee. “We are happy to host this event, and we would love to see more of this happen.”

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