MASON, Mich. — Revolutionary War veteran Pvt. Ephraim Wheaton, buried in North Stockbridge Cemetery, will be honored with a plaque and roadside marker by the Sons of the American Revolution chapter that bears his name.
Wheaton was a fife and drum player who signaled commands in a few battles, including the siege of Yorktown where British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington.
"The soldiers would listen for the beats of the drums, and maybe some of the tunes that were being played, so they would know whether to fire, whether to move ahead, retreat -- whatever their commands were, the commanders gave those commands to to the musicians," said Bob Clinton, president of the Pvt. Ephraim Wheaton Chapter of the Michigan Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. "It was a communication critical to help the troops, obviously, succeed."
The Pvt. Ephraim Wheaton Chapter was chartered in October 2019. Clinton said that, after hearing Wheaton's story, "we said, 'We want him to be our patriot. We're going to name our chapter in honor of him.'"
Wheaton was born in Connecticut around 1760, enlisted in 1781, was discharged in 1783 and moved to Stockbridge in 1836, a year before Michigan became a state. He died on April 27, 1853.
With his wife, Eunice, he had approximately 10 children, including a son named Orin. As many as 15 of Orin's direct descendants may be at Wheaton's dedication ceremony at the cemetery at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 24.
The ceremony is open to the public and will include fife players, drummers, people dressed in period costumes and several speakers, including U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin.
It was intentionally scheduled between Patriots Day and the 168th anniversary of Wheaton's passing. The ceremony was originally planned for last year but had to be postponed due to COVID-19.
"We're just excited in terms of being able to dedicate his grave site," Clinton said.
Chapter genealogist Jim Moses said, as far as he knows, "it is the first historical marker commemorating an American Revolutionary War soldier to be erected in Michigan."
Moses said there are five Revolutionary War veterans buried in Ingham County, and it is the society's goal for each to have a marker by their tombstone. Wheaton is the first. His roadside historical marker will be by the cemetery entrance on M-36.
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