WARREN, Ind. (WANE) — A ceremony was held at Woodlawn Cemetery in Warren on Saturday to pay tribute to the only confirmed Revolutionary War veteran to be buried in Huntington County.
Last year, the Samuel Huntington chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution learned that Elijah Mitchell’s gravestone in Warren’s Woodlawn Cemetery was damaged by a tree. Mitchell was known to have fought in the American Revolution and had even been honored by the D.A.R. chapter for his service in the early 1900s. As they set about replacing Mitchell’s headstone, they learned how significant his grave was in the county.
“Originally it started as a research project that the Huntington County Library gave me a long time ago, 2019, and I started doing research on Elijah,” said Kathleen Thomas Nave, registrar for the D.A.R. chapter. “We determined he was the only known Revolutionary War buried in Huntington County. We wanted to honor it.”
Mitchell enlisted in the war and then re-enlisted five times after that. He moved from North Carolina to Kentucky and then Ohio before settling near Richmond, Indiana where he is believed to have farmed for about 35 years. His sons moved to Huntington County in the 1830s and Mitchell followed in 1840, when is was 80 years old. He spent his last years living with one of his sons on the land across from Woodlawn Cemetery.
Mitchell died in 1847 and was buried in Good Cemetery. He was moved to Woodlawn Cemetery by the D.A.R. in the early 1900s so his grave would be more accessible to the public. A plaque was dedicated to him after the move, and a flag pole would also be erected in his honor years later.
The group worked with the American Legion Auxiliary Post 160 to plan a dedication for Mitchell’s new headstone. They also collected plastic bottle caps to commission a bench made by Green Tree Plastics in Evansville. The ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, they were able to finally hold it on September 12.
The ceremony honored Mitchell at Mike and George Bustos, two brothers who were killed in action while fighting in Vietnam and are buried next to Mitchell. Family members gave a history of each veteran before presenting Mitchell’s descendants with an American flag. It ended with a military gun salute. It was important to the chapter that they follow through with the event because war veterans from the early years of the United States are not thought about as much.
“A lot of these soldiers were lost,” said Stacey Law, secretary for the D.A.R. chapter. “Everybody thinks about the wars of today, but not the wars of the past, so we thought this was a good way to get that name out there, get the war out there, and let people realize there was a war that started this country.”
Some of Mitchell’s descendants attended the ceremony. Mitchell’s sixth great-grandson, Glenn Humerickhouse said they were touched to see a crowd of strangers turn out, and that it says a lot about the community’s respect towards our military.
“I think really it’s just a recognition for patriots everywhere,” said Humerickhouse. “The service that they’ve done, how much it means still to the communities that they lived in even though he’s been dead for 150 years.”
That sentiment was shared by the family of Mike and George Bustos, two brothers who were killed in action during the Vietnam War and are buried next to Mitchell. The Bustos family has deep roots in the military that continue to this day, and Gage Bustos said they appreciate everyone who came out to remember their relatives.
“The right people give the right respect,” said Gage Bustos, great-nephew to the Bustos brothers. “It means everything to me and I know it means everything to our family to see everybody come out and give their respects and honor to not just our family members that fell but Elijah Mitchell.”
Mitchell is the only confirmed veteran of the Revolutionary War but the D.A.R. said there is another man they are researching who they believe may also have fought in that war.
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