Editor’s Note: The following article was submitted by the Daughters of the American Revolution Marais des Cygnes Chapter.
Although Phyllis Woolsey Benedict, master gardener and chairman of the Miami County Courthouse Garden Project, frequently greets courthouse visitors from the vantage point of one of its many glorious gardens with garden trowel in hand, her most recent visit brought many to first stop and gaze, but ultimately, become concerned perhaps she had spent too much time in the hot sun!
Not only had her trowel been replaced with an ominous drawing of what appeared to be a scoundrel holding a knife the size of a small sword, but she was accompanied by a woman of similar appearance holding a red, white and blue quilt.
Was this a drawing of a Civil War bushwhacker who previously threatened Miami County residents? And who was this other woman and what was the purpose of the quilt? Was it to be used to shade the garden against the sun’s afternoon rays?
Visitor curiosity then hit the boiling point when a Miami County Republic reporter strode from across the street with camera in hand. Something was awry and a full explanation was in order!
Alas, all was well in the Courthouse Gardens. Phyllis and her first cousin, Janice Woolsey Long of Parker, were there to honor their fifth great grandfather, Zachariah Harmon, pictured in the drawing, who, as a Revolutionary War patriot, was the antithesis of a wrongdoer as his Revolutionary War service included the positions of County Commissioner and later High Sheriff of Chatham County, NC.
But, that was not his only service to his community and country, as he and other North Carolinian patriots saw to it the state’s loyalists’ “enthusiasm” was quelled early in the war after a very cleverly planned rout at the battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, NC, in early 1776.
As Zachariah and his family owned land around Moore’s Creek Bridge, their familiarity with the terrain allowed them to set a trap by blocking off all routes to their encampment except one over the very long and narrow bridge at Moore’s Creek.
As if crossing this bridge in open sight wasn’t enough, the patriots removed horizontal boards from the middle of the bridge and greased the bridge’s hand railings and framework forcing the loyalists to cross single file. Many loyalists fell into the creek, while those making it to the other side were met by a barrage of musket and cannon fire delivered by the patriots in wait!
This rout was so overwhelming that even five years later, in early 1781, when British General Charles Cornwallis attempted to persuade NC loyalists to join his British forces in the war, he came up empty handed.
Perhaps if the Moores’ Creek Bridge battle had not been such an overwhelming Loyalist defeat (50 British vs. two Patriot casualties with 850 Loyalist prisoners and $1 million in British Sterling, weapons, and wagons captured) Loyalists would have beckoned Cornwallis call to arms and, just perhaps, Cornwallis would have had the additional troops needed to avoid surrendering to George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, later in the same year.
All this is conjecture, of course, but it does bring home the point a resounding defeat can have a lasting impact!
And, now to the last mystery, that of the quilt! It is just one of 27 “Quilts of Valor” Janice has lovingly completed over the past few years.
As a member of the “Quilts of Valor Foundation,” a national organization founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, a Blue Star mother, Janice is one of many volunteers who have created, awarded and registered over 240,000 quilts to the Foundation’s specifications in order to bring comfort and healing to service members and veterans touched by war.
As we can see, the sense of duty to community did not diminish in the eight generations between Zachariah and the two cousins.
As members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), they both participate in its many service activities with Phyllis serving as DAR Volunteer Genealogist and a member of the Kansas State DAR Application Team.
Janice is a “Find a Grave” volunteer and Secretary of the Parker Genealogy Society.
She also generates all obituary cards for Parker Branch of the Linn County Public Library obituary file and has donated fundraising quilts to her church and other organizations.
The Marais des Cygnes Chapter DAR is extremely proud of Zachariah’s 8th generation descendants, and we know Zachariah would be, too!
For more information about the Marais des Cygnes Chapter, please contact us on our Facebook page or at email@example.com.