HEBRON – Men dressed in tri-corner hats, blue overcoats, vests and white-collared shirts stood with American flags at the entrance of the Linn-Hebron Cemetery.
The men in replica uniforms were part of a contingent of about 35 people who gathered Sunday to honor the only known American Revolution veteran buried in McHenry County.
Major Watson was a soldier who served under Gen. George Washington and Gen. Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War.
Members of the Illinois Society of Sons of the American Revolution paid to have a plaque placed at the entrance of the Linn-Hebron Cemetery denoting it is the location of Watson’s grave.
“I believe, we tend to forget the history of this great country, the founding of the country, the sacrifices that were made to found this country and the principles that it is built upon,” said Bruce Talbot, president of the Illinois SAR.
“Every person who visits this cemetery, the first thing they’re going to see is that plaque. They’re going to stop and say, ‘I didn’t know that someone from the revolution is here.’ “ Talbot added.
Watson was present during the Battle of Monmouth. He was eventually captured at Fort Stanwix in New York by American Indians who were aligned with British forces during the war. Watson was held prisoner in Montreal for the duration of the war, according to the Hebron Village website.
Watson also fought in the War of 1812, but was captured at Ogdensburg in New York, and held prisoner until 1815.
Watson died in 1840 at the age of 100 in southern Wisconsin.
The event, organized by the SAR, was attended by members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Major Watson Society and the Children of the American Revolution.
In Illinois, there are about 100 cemeteries where men and women who helped during the American Revolution are buried. Most of the individual graves have been marked, but the cemetery entrances do not designate that a revolutionary war veteran is among those buried, according to the SAR.
The Sons of the American Revolution, an international organization of men who are descendants of those who fought for American independence, has begun placing plaques at the entrances of the cemeteries.
The plaques say the name of the American Revolution veteran buried in the cemetery and discuss what the person did during the war.
“All of these men, these patriots, who died for our country are all over the state, and most people don’t even know it,” said Franz Herder, who is the vice president of the northern region of the SAR. “This is a way, in terms of public education, to recognize the sacrifices of those who fought for our [country].”
Tim Evers is the sexton of the cemetery, and received a certificate of good citizenship for his help in setting up the ceremony.
He also presented to the SAR the American flag that flew during the last year at the cemetery, which has veterans from the Civil War and World War II, among other conflicts.
“It’s kind of an honor to be out here,” Evers said.
The Illinois Society of Sons of the American Revolution expects the cemetery marking program to be a long-term project, according to a news release. Each marker costs about $2,000. Money for the project is collected from contributions, from the society and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
For information about the project, visit www.illinois-sar.org.