Learn about the Revolutionary War veterans with graves in Illinois

Learn about the Revolutionary War veterans with graves in Illinois

  • In 2008, a dedication service was held for the new grave markers for Revolutionary War soldier Israel Warner who is buried in the Big Woods cemetery in Aurora along with some of his descendants. Members of the River Valley Colonial Fifes and Drums play Revolutionary War songs prior to the ceremony.

    In 2008, a dedication service was held for the new grave markers for Revolutionary War soldier Israel Warner who is buried in the Big Woods cemetery in Aurora along with some of his descendants. Members of the River Valley Colonial Fifes and Drums play Revolutionary War songs prior to the ceremony. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Posted7/2/2020 8:27 AM

In the first half of the 19th century, four Revolutionary War soldiers, already in their mid-70s or 80s, found their way to the prairies of the northeastern Illinois region.

Two of the men, Abner Powers and Israel Putman Warner, were young boys present at the Battle of Bennington on Aug. 16, 1777. The decisive defeat of the British forces is seen as a turning point in the war for independence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Two others, Aaron Miner and Eli Skinner, are both buried in the small Elk Grove Cemetery, nestled in the shadow of the tollway and Arlington Heights Road. They are the only two Revolutionary War soldiers known to be buried in Cook County.

The Fox Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution has compiled histories of the four soldiers on their website, www.foxsar.org/Patriots.html.

Abner Powers

A 30-foot granite obelisk in Lily Lake Cemetery memorializes Abner Powers, who fought in the Revolutionary War. He was at Valley Forge with George Washington's army. Serving as a drummer boy at the famous battles of Bennington and Saratoga, he later signed up as a soldier and was present at the final battle, Yorktown.
  A 30-foot granite obelisk in Lily Lake Cemetery memorializes Abner Powers, who fought in the Revolutionary War. He was at Valley Forge with George Washington's army. Serving as a drummer boy at the famous battles of Bennington and Saratoga, he later signed up as a soldier and was present at the final battle, Yorktown. - Scot Gregor | Staff Photographer, 2016

The 30-foot granite obelisk marking the grave of Revolutionary War soldier Abner Powers towers over the surrounding farm fields at Lily Lake Cemetery. Powers was born in Springfield, New Hampshire, on Dec. 15, 1760. At age 15, he enlisted as a drummer boy with the 1st New Hampshire Regiment, and was present at the Battle of Bennington and the Battle of Saratoga. The long, cold winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in 1777-78 did not deter the now almost 18-year-old from enlisting as a soldier in the regiment of Colonel John Stark. Records show Powers rose to the rank of corporal and was present during the Battle of Yorktown. After many years living in Vermont and Canada, records show he came to Illinois, settling in Kane County in 1844, where Abner lived with his son and his family. He died at age 91 on Sept. 25, 1852, in Virgil Township. By 1901, a Sycamore man visiting the cemetery spotted the broken marble slab over Abner's grave with the inscription "1776" and a military emblem. After learning of his years of service during the war, the community raised around $1,200 to install a more prominent gravestone, ordering the granite from Abner's home state of Vermont. Fifty years after his death, a dedication ceremony was held on July 4, 1902. According to the 1904 edition of "Kane County History," more than 30,000 people attended the ceremony, with military bands and three companies of militia.

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Israel Putman Warner

This 2008 photo by Fox Valley Genealogical Society member Jim Weichel shows the old gravestones for Revolutionary War veteran Israel Warner, left, at Big Woods Cemetery. Buried next to him are his daughter and her husband, Esther and Daniel Kenyon, flanked by their two sons and Civil War soldiers William Jeptha Kenyon, who died near Vicksburg, and Israel Warner Kenyon, who died in 1864 from wounds after returning home.
This 2008 photo by Fox Valley Genealogical Society member Jim Weichel shows the old gravestones for Revolutionary War veteran Israel Warner, left, at Big Woods Cemetery. Buried next to him are his daughter and her husband, Esther and Daniel Kenyon, flanked by their two sons and Civil War soldiers William Jeptha Kenyon, who died near Vicksburg, and Israel Warner Kenyon, who died in 1864 from wounds after returning home. - Daily Herald Archives

On May 31, 2008, 300 people gathered for a ceremony at Big Woods Cemetery in Winfield Township to commemorate the 240th anniversary of Revolutionary War soldier Israel Putman Warner's birth. Born May 27, 1768, in Bennington, Vermont, Warner was named after Israel Putnam, a popular figure who served with Roger's Rangers during the French and Indian War, and later in his early 60s, fought with distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Warner started his military career early, serving as a military courier at age 9 in the Battle of Bennington. He carried a critical message from his father, Seth Warner, a co-founder of Vermont's famous Green Mountain Boys, on horseback to the commanding general to bring reinforcements. His son, who joined the army in 1777, served the entire duration of the war as a messenger boy and scout, rising to the rank of private before his honorable discharge at age 15. His father, wounded many times during the war, died an early death in 1784 at age 41, leaving the 16-year-old to care for his mother and two siblings. In 1853, he moved to Illinois to be with his daughter, Esther Kenyon, and her husband, Daniel, living in Warrenville. On Jan. 22, 1862, Warner died four months shy of his 94th birthday. A little over a year later, his grandson, William Jeptha Kenyon, serving as a soldier in the Civil War, was killed near Vicksburg, and is buried next to Warner. The following spring, in 1864, Esther died in March, followed a month later by her other son, Israel Warner Kenyon, at age 29, from a medical condition or wounds. The posting on the Sons of the American Revolution's website notes that their "graves are in a row in the Big Woods Cemetery. Esther Warner Kenyon's grave is in the center ... Both of her sons died during the Civil War defending the country their grandfather helped create. These five graves are a place of special remembrance and reflection."

Aaron Miner

Revolutionary War veterans Eli Skinner and Aaron Miner are among the 25 military service members honored during the Wreaths Across America program last December at Elk Grove Cemetery.
  Revolutionary War veterans Eli Skinner and Aaron Miner are among the 25 military service members honored during the Wreaths Across America program last December at Elk Grove Cemetery. - Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer, 2019

Aaron Miner, born on March 17, 1757, in Brumfield, Connecticut, served multiple short-term enlistments during the Revolutionary War, often to reinforce the companies of regular troops. In his first enlistment starting in May 1775, his regiment joined the army of Brigadier General Richard Montgomery in October for the successful attack on Fort St. John and Montreal in Canada. Returning to his hometown in Woodbury, Connecticut, that November, he reenlisted six months later in May 1776, and his regiment joined the Continental Army, led by General George Washington, in the Battle of Long Island and Battle of White Plains in September and October of 1776, respectively. The losses from these battles marked the worst period of the war for Washington and the American cause. After his discharge in December 1776, Milner served four more two-month terms, with the last one in 1780. After living for years in Connecticut, he later moved to Vermont with his wife, Hannah. In 1833, Milner, in his mid-70s, and his wife joined their son, Frederick T. Miner, setting up their home near present-day Arlington Heights and Algonquin roads. He died here on March 29, 1849, at age 92, and was buried at Elk Grove Cemetery, established on a small knoll of the Miner farm. Decades later, Miner was made the namesake of a local chapter of the Children of the American Revolution.

Eli Skinner

In 1931, the General Henry Dearborn Chapter of DAR erected a headstone over the grave of Revolutionary War soldier Aaron Miner at Elk Grove Cemetery.
In 1931, the General Henry Dearborn Chapter of DAR erected a headstone over the grave of Revolutionary War soldier Aaron Miner at Elk Grove Cemetery. - Daily Herald File Photo

Born on July 30, 1760, in Colchester, Connecticut, a 13-year-old Eli Skinner later moved with his large family to Shelburne, Massachusetts. After the British marched on Lexington and Concord in May 1775, the 14-year-old signed up in the state militia for an eight-month enlistment, where he served as a fifer. After another call for troops in December 1776, Skinner enlisted for another three months, performing garrison duty at Fort Ticonderoga, before returning to his home in Shelburne and later moving to Vermont. His wife, Lucinda, died in 1807 after 24 years of marriage. The widower, with nine children, married soon after to Eleanor Lovejoy, followed by the birth of his 10th child. In the 1830s, he moved to New York to live near three of his children. In 1848, he followed family to Cook County in Illinois. His homestead was built near the corners of present-day Algonquin and Arlington Heights roads. He died on July 2, 1851, less than a month before his 91st birthday. He is buried in the Elk Grove Cemetery. His grave was marked by the General Henry Dearborn Chapter of the DAR in 1931. On June 13, 1991, the Eli Skinner Chapter, NSDAR, rededicated his monument in honor of the 100th anniversary of NSDAR and the 45th anniversary of the chapter.

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