17 Apr 2021 Culpeper, VA
President Jeff Thomas played a prominent roll in ceremonies at the Culpeper Masonic Cemetery this past Saturday in honor of Patriots Day, to mark the grave of patriot General Edward Stevens, and to Gather & Bless Virginia Soil for the mass grave of Virginians at Waxhaws.
Culpeper Minutemen Chapter President Charles Jameson was the master of ceremonies and in addition to President Jeff Thomas representing the Virginia SAR the Virginia Society of Founders and Patriots was represented by Governor Michael Weyler. Members of six Virginia SAR Chapters (Col James Wood II, Col William Grayson, Culpeper Minutemen, Fairfax Resolves, George Mason, and Thomas Jefferson), two DAR Chapters, and one C.A.R. Society also participated.
The program began with the usual rituals, including the posting of the colors led by Virginia SAR Color Guard Commander Ken Bonner. Ten compatriots and one DAR daughter participated in the color guard.
The first program, was a commemoration of Patriots Day, noting the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Bill Schwetke spoke to those and related events from the perspective of Virginia. Of note, it took 15 days for the news of the battles to be published in a Virginia Newspaper.
Next was the ceremony to unveil the SAR Patriot Marker for the grave of General Edward Stevens. In this program CMM President Charles Jameson talked about the life of Edward Stevens, Historian Bill Schwetke and Chaplain Len Cowherd conducted the ceremony, and Michael Dennis, a descendant of a patriot who served with Stevens, unveiled the marker. This was immediately followed by a musket volley from the Color Guard and everyone singing "God Bless America" led by Dale Corey.
The program contained this brief bio of Edward Stevens:
Edward Stevens was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1745. As a Captain he led Culpeper’s Independent Company in response to the alarm over the seizure of weapons and gunpowder from the Williamsburg Magazine in April of 1775. On December 9, 1775 he led the victorious Culpeper Minute Battalion in the crucial Battle of Great Bridge. He then was commissioned as Colonel of the
10th Virginia Regiment and fought at Brandywine and Germantown. He returned to Culpeper and was commissioned as a Brigadier General of Virginia Militia and led militia at Camden, Guilford Courthouse, and Yorktown. After our Independence was gained, Edward Stevens returned to Culpeper where he served as a state senator and died in 1820. The cemetery where he is buried is on land that he donated.
After the ceremony, wreaths were presented by eleven of the participating organizations. President Jeff Thomas presented the Virginia SAR wreath.
The last ceremony was to gather Virginia Soil, in this case that removed for the Patriot Marker at Edward Stevens' grave, bless it, and present it to Virginia SAR President Jeff Thomas to spread on the mass grave of Virginians in the 3rd Virginia Detachment killed at the Battle of Waxhaws during the ceremony marking the 241st anniversary of that battle in South Carolina. CMM President Charles Jameson handled the urn, Bill Schwetke filled it with Virginia Soil, President Thomas accepted it, and Father Henry Minich blessed the soil.
On May 29th, the 241st anniversary of the Battle of Waxhaws, President Thomas will spread this blessed soil on the mass grave of Virginians who died there.
Information for your Patriot Grave Marking Medal Form. Are you tracking your accomplishments? - participate in marking a total of 15 similar graves and you're eligible for the NSSAR Patriot Grave Marking Medal.
30 minute video of ceremony available at this link.