Burlington, News

Burlington recognizes a Revolutionary War soldier

Representatives from the Wisconsin Sons of the American Revolution showcase the colors in the background of the memorial marker honoring Smith during the dedication ceremony. Shown from left are Matt Schoberg, Bob Plastine, and Mike Meador (Jason Arndt/Southern Lakes Newspapers).

By Jason Arndt

The Burlington area remembered a Revolutionary War veteran on Saturday when officials dedicated a new memorial marker to honor Patriot Aaron Smith at Cooper Elementary School.

Smith, the only known soldier from the Revolutionary War buried in Burlington, was born in Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1760 and enlisted in the 5th Regiment, Massachusetts Line of the Continental Army, as an 18-year-old.

After serving for several years, Smith received a discharge, and eventually moved to Medina County, Ohio, in 1821.

Smith and his wife, Lydia, joined their three sons in Foxville, now known as Burlington, in 1836.

In 1838, at the age of 78, Smith died and was buried with his wife on a family farm near the Cooper Elementary School grounds, based on historical accounts.

Julie O’Neill, of the Burlington Historical Society, told people in attendance that Saturday’s memorial marker is the third to be installed in Burlington since 1955.

“In 1955, the Daughters’ of the American Revolution placed a plaque on a large boulder in Wagner Park on Chestnut Street along the White River,” O’Neill said. “At some point that plaque went missing. The boulder is still there.”

The Daughters of the American, in conjunction with the Burlington Historical Society, then created a second flat memorial marker near the old bell at Cooper School.

By 2022, the Burlington Area School District had enclosed the playground, leaving the monument inaccessible to the public.

“At that time, it was decided to move the second plaque near the newly planted Liberty Tree and place a more prominent plaque on the corner of Amanda and Conkey streets,” O’Neill said. “We are dedicating that plaque today.”

Dedicated to service, family
President Bob Haglund, of the Sons of the American Revolution, offered a precise description of what is engraved on the plaque honoring Smith in his address to dozens in attendance.

“At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Aaron was too young to enlist. So, at the age of 15, he became a servant to a relative, Eliakim Smith, a captain of the Continental Army,” the inscription reads.

In July 1778, while residing in Massachusetts, Smith joined the Continental Army serving under several captains during his tenure.

“Smith was present at the Siege of Yorktown and was mustered out two years later in 1783,” the inscription states.

During the War of 1812, Smith attempted to re-enlist. However, he was denied because of his age.

But he was still able to serve as a substitute volunteer for his son-in-law who had been drafted.

Jeanette Lederleitner, Racine Chapter Regent of the Daughters of the Revolution, delivered a personal reflection of Smith based on an 1822 letter from Smith’s physician, Dr. Bela Bronson Clark, to Connecticut Sen. Elijah Boardman.

“Accompanying you will receive papers relative to the revolutionary claim of Aaron Smith. This old gentleman is now near 70 years of age, laboring under an injury he received in fighting for our liberties,” the letter states. “He found himself in the prime of his life, and as he enjoyed his health in other respects, he thought he could make a living.”

The letter further states Smith’s advanced age and diminished condition served as a call for assistance from the United States to help Smith and his wife.

“He has contributed to give his countrymen liberty and all its blessings,” the letter states. “He now calls upon the same countrymen to contribute to his support.”

See the June 27 print editions of the Standard Press, Waterford Post and Westine Report for the full story.

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