Ledbetter shares history of American Revolution
Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 8:00 pm
The Reelfoot Chapter Daughters of American Revolution met recently at the family life center at Union City First Baptist Church.
Regent Mary Coleman called the meeting to order. Ms. Coleman and chaplain Linda Lofton led the group in the DAR Ritual. Peggy Drerup led the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag; Gloria Howell led the American Creed, while Ms. Lofton led the singing of “America.” Josephine Keightley led the salute to the Tennessee flag and Ann Culp led the recitation of the Preamble to the Constitution. Margaret Vaughn read the minutes of the March meeting and they were approved.
The Flag Code, read by Ms. Lofton, was a reprint of an inspirational article written by Anna Landis and printed in The Weakley County Press to commemorate Veterans Day in November 2012. The article described the many ways the American flag is symbolic of the brave patriots who fought and continue to fight for freedom, from the Revolutionary War with George Washington to present day on the many fronts of battle wherein this nation is engaged. She reminded the group of the holidays coming up for which they should proudly fly the American flag.
The Indian Minutes were presented by Ms. Howell. She gave a summary of the seven clans of the Cherokee Nation and a bit of information about each clan. The clans were Wolf, Panther, Long Hair, Bird, Deer, Bear and Paint. The largest and most prominent clan was the Wolf Clan, which provided most of the war chiefs. The smallest and most secretive clan was the Paint Clan, the clan of the shaman, sorcerers, medicine men and priests.
The president general’s message was read by Penny Hepler. President general Mary Wright wrote she was pleased to have visited many of the Western Zone state conferences and reminded all members to refer to the National DAR website for final plans for the NSDAR Continental Congress in July.
The National Defenders report was read by Ann Thompson and pertained to the suggestion that National Guard members can no longer be referred to as “Weekend Warriors” as they are now not only called first when this nation experiences internal disasters, but they are also regularly deployed for active duty to front lines. It is thought they should also have their own song, since the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines have theirs.
The Conservation Minute was given by Ms. Coleman. She informed members how schools and students were doing their part to conserve resources by recycling waste paper, cans and cardboard boxes.
Hazel Williams gave the treasurer’s report. No correspondence was presented. Betty Whitesides was welcomed as a prospective member whose membership application is now in Washington, D.C., being reviewed. Old business and new business were addressed. The meeting was adjourned, and Billy Ledbetter, avid local historian and genealogist, was introduced by Mrs. Thompson. Ledbetter enlightened the group regarding Patriot’s Day and Obion County’s connection to the birth of a nation.
Ledbetter began by connecting himself and his interest in local history and to the American Revolution. His fourth great-grandfather was Rowland Ledbetter, who was drafted into the North Carolina Continental Army when he was 16 years old to fight for the independence of this nation. He moved to the Tennessee Territory in 1780, before Tennessee was a state, where he died in Marshall County in 1842. To connect Tennessee and Obion County to the American Revolution, he noted it is thought there are as many as 12 Revolutionary War patriots buried in Obion County. He also noted one of the most decisive battles fought in the revolution was fought at King’s Mountain in Washington County, N.C., on Oct. 7, 1780. The site of that battle became Washington County, Tenn., in 1796 when Tennessee became a state. Further, nearly half of the men who fought in that battle were from the Tennessee Territory and called “Overmountain Men.” Ledbetter provided several old family names that chapter members were familiar with who came to West Tennessee and specifically Obion County at this point in history, because of Revolutionary War land grants.
As April is the month the chapter remembers the patriots of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolution, Ledbetter gave the group interesting facts about the famous first battle which started the Revolutionary War. This was fought to gain America’s independence from Britain after 156 years as a British colony. On the night of April 18, 1776, about 9 p.m., approximately 800 British Regulars left Boston for Concord to capture and destroy military supplies stored there. This was to have been a secret nighttime march, but because of effective colonial intelligence, Paul Revere had already warned the townspeople and militias of several nearby towns that the British were coming. Around midnight, the British Regulars met colonists Asabel Porter and Josiah Richardson, going from Lexington to Boston to sell farm produce. Fearful these two men would return to Lexington and warn the militia, the British ordered the two to dismount and march in the middle of British ranks to Lexington. Unbeknownst to the British, and because of Revere’s warning, Capt. John Parker had assembled the Lexington militia on the Lexington Commons to await the arrival of the British Regulars to arrive about daylight. Parker gave the order not to fire unless fired upon. Up until this day, the colonists had not engaged the British in battle.
As the British Regulars neared the concrete walls of Lexington, Porter and Richardson were told they could leave the confines of the British but not to run, as they might be able to warn the militia. For some unknown reason, Porter started to run as he neared the walls. He was shot dead by the British a few feet from the wall at the Lexington Green. Who fired the next shots is unknown — the British or the local militia. Eight militiamen were killed and 10 were wounded in this brief skirmish. Only one British Regular was wounded. So began the American Revolution. Porter was the first casualty. The first black patriot of the American Revolution was Prince Estabrook, a slave who lived in Lexington. Estabrook was one of the eight Lexington militia to be wounded in this battle. He went on to fight in many more battles of the Revolution.
The Lexington militia retreated in this battle, and the British Regulars marched on to Concord to complete their mission. However, the Concord militia and townspeople had been warned, the supplies to be destroyed by the British had been moved and they were much better prepared to do battle. The British were soundly defeated at Concord and retreated to Boston. Thus, the second battle of the Revolution was fought on the same day as the last.
Soldiers in the nation’s early history were paid for their service in part by Land Warrants in an effort to settle the unsettled acreage in states and territories owned by the American government. The acreage of the land warrants was dependent on the veteran’s military rank — from 60 acres up to 12,000 acres. When the veteran or his representative actually went to the location of the land described in the land warrant, had it surveyed and returned to the government with documentation they had indeed been to the land site, then a land grant could be negotiated for the veteran. The veteran became the owner of the land. William Blount had been the pay master for the North Carolina Continental Army. He received a large land grant for his services. Hugh Williamson, a surgeon in the Revolutionary War, received a 5,000 acre land grant. Besides the sizable land grant, the Blount family purchased millions of acres, for the purpose of land speculation, in the territory to become Tennessee, including West Tennessee. Williamson purchased an additional 21,000 acres from the Blount family. Blount and Williamson accumulated 150,000 acres located where Obion County is now situated. The land of Obion County was very desirable due to the rivers, valuable timber and rich black loam soil. George Washington appointed Blount the first governor of the Tennessee Territory. He was instrumental in Tennessee’s becoming a state in 1796. Blount and Williamson both served in the first Congress of the United States of America. Most notable, Blount and Williamson were both signers of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Ledbetter ended his presentation by stating it is doubtful any other county can claim the land on which they are located was once owned by two signers of the U.S. Constitution.
Published in The Messenger 4.15.13