First Posted: 12/27/2008
PILOT MOUNTAIN A number of people were on hand at the Pilot Mountain City Cemetery Saturday afternoon to honor a local Revolutionary War soldier and his wife.
Thomas and Sarah Gordons graves are located in White Plains on a farm now owned by the Vernon family, not far from Stewarts Creek. The stones marking the graves were removed in 1929 as the owner of the land decided to cultivate the area. Because the grave site is on public property, Carolyn Boyles and Gordon Thomas, both descendants, decided to find a place for a memorial to the couple.
They settled on the Pilot Mountain City Cemetery because Gordon and his brother, Bob Thomas, owned a family plot there with some vacant space. They went about deciding on a marker to place there and what it should say before organizing a memorial service in honor of its placing.
We think we located the general area (of the grave site), but it was not suitable to place the marker because it was private property, said Boyles of the farm. We decided the best thing to do would be to put one in this cemetery.
The marker is a simple granite slab, inscribed with Thomas and Sarahs names, date of death and the fact that they are interred on a farm in the White Plains community.
Many descendants of the Gordons were at the memorial service to pay tribute to a man who fought in the Revolutionary War, helping America gain its independence.
Thomas Gordon was born in Northern Ireland in 1745 and moved to America with his family when he was 5. They settled in the colony of Virginia near what is now Charlottesville. He enlisted in the militia in 1777 and fought with the 16th Virginia regiment during the Revolutionary War, in time coming to serve under Col. Nathaniel Gist, the son of one of the earliest explorers of Surry County.
During his time in the militia, he fought in the Battle of Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777, near Chadds Ford, Pa., and the Battle of Germantown on Oct. 4, 1777, also in Pennsylvania. He survived winter at Valley Forge, where the continental army spent time training and preparing for battle to resume in the spring. He also participated in the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778, in New Jersey.
In addition to his time spent in battle, he was held as a prisoner of war, bound by wet reeds which left scars on his wrists. The last mention of him on the militias payroll was in November 1779, making his military career last more than two years.
After his service, he moved to Surry County with his wife, Sarah, and lived on the farm in what is now the White Plains community until their death. They were tragically killed during a severe thunderstorm one summer afternoon in 1803 when the house was struck by lightning.
Those descendants at the memorial service appreciated the efforts of Gordon Thomas and Carolyn Boyles in creating a memorial site that can be visited by family who wish to pay their respects.
I think its great. We need to never forget where our country came from, said Tyler Thomas, a great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Thomas and Sarah and the son of Bob Thomas. We need to appreciate the past people who fought and the current ones fighting as well.
Its always good to remember past family members and how everything has come along, added Anna Thomas, Tylers sister. Were very fortunate to have this information.
Several members of the family have spent many years collecting historical information, locating wills and tracking down information for a family tree. They were able to come together on Saturday to share what they have learned as well as to meet some new family members and catch up with others.
Around 75 to 80 percent of the people in Surry County are Gordon descendants, whether they know it or not, said Boyles.
I was inspired (to come) because it was something in the family that we had. We just need to go show our respect, said Heather Combs, who is a descendent of Thomas and Sarah.
Gordon Thomas found his inspiration to find the grave site and create a memorial from his grandfather, Isaac Martin Gordon, who initially began the search for the graves and expressed the desire to create a memorial.
My grandfather was someone I always admired and aspired to be like. And I had an appreciation of history, said Gordon Thomas about looking into the matter. At some point, I started digging deeper into it and it was easy to take it all and piece it together. Im sure hed be very proud of it.
In addition to family members, Ellis Hamby of the Sons of the American Revolution and representatives of the Jonathan Hunt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution were present at the memorial service to honor Thomas and Sarah Gordon.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.