J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Remembering the Revolutionary War Veterans of Cincinnati

At 1:00 today, the Cincinnati chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution will have a public ceremony honoring Revolutionary War veterans at the Spring Grove Cemetery, as described on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s website.

In 1976, the Daughters of the American Revolution installed a marker at Spring Grove listing 35 Revolutionary veterans known to have been buried there. However, further research has added 25 more names. Some were interred there but not recognized as veterans before. Others were buried at another cemetery in the city before it was turned into a park in the 1850s; their descendants were invited to move their remains, if any, to Spring Grove, but not every family had relatives or resources to do so.

Among the Cincinnati veterans to be added to the marker is Cambridge native Joshua Wyeth (1758-1829). In his case, it’s just a guess that he was even in the first cemetery since there’s no record or description of his burial.

However, Cincinnati’s newspapers recorded Wyeth’s passing in 1829 because he was the city’s link to the Boston Tea Party. (His Find-a-Grave page shows one obituary, along with the wrong year for his death. [ADDENDUM: This is now corrected.]) In fact, Wyeth was the first participant in the destruction of the tea to recount the event for public consumption and one of the first people quoted in print using the term “Tea Party” to describe it.

In 1773, Joshua Wyeth was working in Boston as an apprentice of blacksmith Obadiah Whiston, a fervent Son of Liberty. Four years earlier, Whiston had charged into the ranks of a British army squad and slugged a soldier for accidentally firing a musket ball into the doorway of his forge. In 1770, Whiston was on the scene of the Boston Massacre. In 1774, Whiston hid two brass cannon stolen from a militia armory inside his shop for several weeks.

But in early 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren began to suspect Whiston was ready to switch over to the Crown and reveal what he knew about those cannon. The Patriots quickly moved the guns to Concord and cut Whiston out of their network. In March 1776 he left Massachusetts with the British military. Though his family was back in Boston within a few years, I’ve found no evidence of Obadiah Whiston’s return.

That shift was probably confusing to young Joshua Wyeth. He remembered it as, “Western, at the time [of the Tea Party], was neutral, but afterwards became a tory.” According to his pension application, Wyeth had left his master and was out of Boston in time for the Battle of Bunker Hill. Family genealogy says he also got married in 1775 to Pauline or Emaline Jones, when he was no more than seventeen. Later he married twice more, fathered twenty-one children, and moved to Ohio.

(Today is, of course, the anniversary of the first full-scale battle of America’s Revolutionary War. By coincidence, it also marks a smaller milestone: this is the 3,000th posting on Boston 1775.)


Anonymous said...

I'm sure, two hundred years from now, that whoever is writing the "Boston 2014" blog will note the two anniversaries as being equal in historical significance.

Many thanks for all your interesting, intelligent, informative and "just plain fun" work over the years, and here's to many more years of the same!


-- R. Doctorow

Joe Bauman said...

Heartiest congratulations for your inspired and inspiring posts. May we be blessed with many more in the future! -- Joe

Anne Bartlett Hill said...

Congratulations on your milestone. Looking forward as always to more!

G. Lovely said...

Congratulations on this milestone, and thank you.

Christina Wyeth Baker said...

I have been writing a book on my Wyeth ancestors, so I am very late in congratulating you on your milestone publication. I was recently telling some of my cousins about your remarkable blog and referred them to it to check out Joshua Wyeth. This brings me to a question on why it is thought that Findagrave had the wrong year of his death? The obituary for Joshua Wyeth was from the Jan. 23, 1829 Daily Cincinnati Gazette. His pension papers also state he died in 1829.

J. L. Bell said...

It looks like the Find-a-Grave webpage about Joshua Wyeth was corrected in the five years since this posting and now rightly says he died in 1829. Continual correction is one of the benefits of a crowdsourced website, and one of the pitfalls of writing about such a site.