Honoring a soldier

Published 6:15 am Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ceremony marks grave of Revolutionary War hero

The grave dedication for Revolutionary War soldier Jonathan Williams, an early settler of Pike County, was held Sunday afternoon at the Blanton Field Cemetery near Brundidge.

A gathering of about 80 decedents of Williams; members of Williams Chapel United Methodist Church, which was founded by Williams; and guests attended the dedication service.

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Williams was honored for his service in Colonel Beardsley’s regiment of the Militia. He served much of the war in the South with the army of General Greene.

“Following the conflict, Jonathan Williams migrated to North Carolina, where he married Frances Cowart and started his family,” said Lawrence Bowden, great-great-great-grandson of Williams. “Following her death in 1912, he married Sarah Bond. Like so many of the citizens of this new nation, it was not long before he and part of the family started moving westward. They probably moved west in hopes of obtaining land. They settled in Georgia for a while and then moved to Pike County in 1824.”

Bowden said that, when circuit riders began to make their way into Pike County, services were often held in the Williams’ log home. Those services were the foundation of Williams Chapel Methodist Church.

“Jonathan Williams died in March 1836 in the Dixon’s Precinct and is buried in the cemetery of the church he helped found,” Bowden said. “His final will can be found in the archives of the Pike County Courthouse.”

The majority of the Williams and Bowden families in this area can trace their lineage back to Jonathan Williams.

“He came west in search of land and brought with him his faith in God and the ideals of liberty,” Bowden said.

The grave dedication for Jonathan Williams was sponsored by the Wiregrass Chapter Alabama Society, Sons of the American Revolution.

The Sons of the American Revolution is a lineage organization composed of men who can document a direct bloodline to one of the patriots of the American Revolution.

“The grave dedication of Jonathan Williams is part of the society’s ongoing program to honor those first American heroes who were willing to sacrifice their lives and fortunes to assure that our nation could enjoy those freedoms and liberties that are the envy of the world today,” said the Rev. Marvin Vickers Jr., president Wiregrass Chapter Sons of the American Revolution.

“Jonathan Williams is one of many veterans who migrated west following the Revolution bringing with them the new ideas of liberty and freedom.”

Williams is one of about 1,000 Revolutionary War soldiers known to be buried in Alabama.

Bowden said the ceremony honoring his ancestor was extremely well done.

“From the presentation of the colors by the SAR Color Guard and the Boy Scouts to the musket salutes and the playing of ‘Taps,’ it was an impressive ceremony,” he said. “Of course, the headstone dedication and the unveiling of the monument were especially meaningful to me, as I’m sure they were to all of the descendants.

“As I stood there, I had a feeling of great pride and deep humility. It was a feeling that I can’t describe — the same kind of feeling that I get when I see the American flag flying in the breeze or see the monument of the American flag being raised on Iwo Jima. It was that kind of spirit that I felt.

“We have a great country and it was because of the thousands of patriots like Jonathan Williams that we are able to enjoy the freedoms that we have. What these patriots did for us is so commendable.”

Bowden said he was impressed with the dedication ceremony that the Sons of the American Revolution conducted and thanked them for their efforts in continuing to recognize the dedication and service of America’s patriots.

He also thanked the Blanton family for allowing access to the cemetery where Williams is buried and the Williams Chapel United Methodist Church for hosting the reception following the ceremony.