True Patriots: Revolutionary War grave sites marked

Published 1:46 pm Sunday, April 23, 2023

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

They were true patriots.

Benjamin Franklin style patriots.

And now, their final resting place in Mocksville more than 221 years ago is marked with plaques designating them as a “Patriot.”

Basil Gaither – and his son-in-law, Isaac Jones – served in the Revolutionary War with other colonists in Maryland, fighting British rule to become their own country.

Both migrated to what is now Davie County, died in the early 1800s, and are buried at Joppa Cemetery here, also the final resting place of Daniel Boone’s parents, Squire and Sarah Boone. The graves are in the same section of the older part of the cemetery, in the back off of Yadkinville Road.

The word “Patriot” to describe those loyal to becoming a new country started with 18th Century writers, including Benjamin Franklin, and specifically referred to the colonists willing to fight British rule.

The markers were erected April 15 in a ceremony sponsored by Col. Joseph Winston Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Bethabra Chapter of the Col. Daniel Boone Chapter of the N.C. Society of Sons of the American Revolution.

It included prayers, costumed reenactors, speeches, music and recognition of descendants of Jones and Gaither.

“Grave markings such as this is a great way to bring the community together for a celebration,” said the Rev. Terri Engle, DAR second vice regent. “We’re hoping this will generate enough interest in the community to form some type of historic designation for this place.”

She said three other Revolutionary War Patriots are also buried at Joppa.

The effort is part of the national DAV’s push to have events prior to the 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War. More grave markings will be held in coming months at other North Carolina cemeteries.

Joppa was picked to be the first mainly because of the historic significance of the cemetery, Engle said.

“This is a tangible way to honor and to connect with our Revolutionary War ancestors,” said Judy Ditmore, DAV chapter regent.

Engle thanked those ancestors in prayer for their “patriotism and devotion to liberty and justice.”

Robert Crum, SAR chapter president, gave a history of Joppa Cemetery, which started off as a cemetery for a church meeting place that later became First Presbyterian Church of Mocksville. It was called Burying Ground Ridge in the early 1750s, and contains the graves of some of the earliest settlers to this region. A meeting house for services was there possibly as early as 1765; it moved to town as First Presbyterian in 1834.

Joppa, Crum said, is Biblical and means “beautiful.” The cemetery not only includes the Boones and five Revolutionary War Patriots, but seven who fought for their cause in the Civil War.

The ceremony included a gun salute, with replica muzzleloaders, music by three members of the Winston-Salem Symphony, a welcome from Mocksville Mayor Will Marklin, laying of wreaths at the markers, reciting of the “American Creed, and plenty of socializing, photographs and discussions among the dozens of descendants who attended.