Aside from the lovely church & cemetery at Archers Ridge that I posted a picture of yesterday, I also went further down the road a bit to Devoll Cemetery, also in Noble County, in search of my DAR patriot, John Wickham. I’d seen the picture & an article about it before but visiting it in person was just important to me. I proudly wear his name on my DAR bar so I felt it was only right to find his resting place to pay proper homage to him.
To recap in case you missed my earlier posts on him and you’re wondering who John Wickham was, he was a soldier in the French & Indian War before being asked to come train militia men during the Revolutionary War. The DAR acknowledges him as a non-commissioned officer. John was 99 years old when he applied for his pension before dying at 100 years old, 8 months. His pension application follows his journey all over New York from Fort Montgomery to the second battle for Saratoga (also known as Bemis Heights) with Generals Gates & Arnold. He was even sent to spy on British ships in the Hudson River near what is now the Tappan Zee Bridge. Somewhere around 1818, John and many of his descendants moved from New York to Ohio.
John died in Morgan County in 1835 but was buried in Noble where his son Benjamin, my other grandfather, can be found just a few feet away. In June of 1846, Benjamin and his wife deeded an acre of ground to the Trustees of Olive Township, “Where the graveyard now is.” My 5th great grandmother, Jerusha Ascenith Weekley Ackley is also buried here. Jerusha’s daughter Esther, my 4th GGM, married Jeremiah Wickham, who happens to be the great grandson of my John Wickham. Esther and Jeremiah Wickham are buried just miles away at Archers Ridge along with many, many other Wickham & Archer ancestors of mine. The families are quite connected!
Both Devoll and Archers Ridge Cemeteries are accessed by dusty gravel roads, which is something that I don’t see much of here in New York! We found Devoll Cemetery (sometimes known as Devol or Devold) situated high up on a steep hill with a craggy (and somewhat creepy) tree. All it was missing was a murder of crows perched menacingly on the branches! Nearly all the stones are illegible, having been worn away with the elements and time. A good portion of them are broken or severely damaged and some are just sad, little stumps. The grounds were freshly mowed and well-tended – it is nice to know that someone, somewhere cares enough to still watch over them.
Climbing up that hill, I found John Wickham nearly smack dab in the middle, American flag waving in the slight breeze. There is a broken stone there, which I imagine was his original stone but it’s completely worn so no name could be deciphered. There is a replacement Civil War era stone there and a “new” replacement plaque that was installed some years ago by a Wickham/Merry family member. Did you catch that it says William Wickham and not John? Well, that’s a source of debate among Wickham researchers and there is even a discrepancy over the new plaque’s date of 1839. (My records and others say he died in 1835.) In any event, people are still working to determine if William and John Wickham ARE one in the same. Some of us have even compared our DNA on GEDMatch but we’re not having much luck unfortunately.
Standing there next to his grave, it again hit me how strange it is that for nearly all my life, I lived within two hours of his resting place and never even knew about him (or any of them) until just about a year and a half ago. I’m so proud of John Wickham and his contributions to our country’s turbulent beginning. Without men like him to help train “green behind the ears” farmers and volunteers, the outcome might have been very different. I did not see a DAR emblem for him and am going to contact the DAR to find out if he’s ever been officially marked. If not, I will be ordering one and contacting the local chapter about a dedication ceremony for him.
I’m happy I went and found them….