We’re going to be looking at War of 1812 graves located basically in the middle of nowhere in the woods. It also happens to be the 204th anniversary of Elijah Sacket’s death and his companion’s death.
This marker is for two soldiers who perished on a march from Plattsburgh to Sackets Harbor in the spring of 1813. The location of the graves and marker are on County Route 24, which is also known as the “St. Lawrence Turnpike” or the “Russell Turnpike.” The road ran all the way from Malone through to Carthage via Russell and was very important during the War of 1812 because it allowed Sackets Harbor to be connected to Plattsburgh via Malone. This allowed transportation of troops and supplies during the war. The actual information on both the roadside marker and grave marker are lacking any real substantial information, so I decided to do some research.
HINT, HINT- If you see something interesting and historic, but lacking information, research it! And, share your findings because someone, somewhere is probably also interested.
Researching Elijah Sacket was not easy. There’s still some unanswered questions. Records are not the clearest and some have been lost to time. So from what I could find, this is the story of Elijah Sacket, a militiaman during the War of 1812.
First off, there are two Elijah Sacket(t)s! Both lived during the same time and were involved in their local militias.
Just for your records, the first Elijah Sackett (two “T”s) was born in 1751 and lived in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He was involved in the American Revolution; eventually he moved to Ohio and died at the old age of 86 in 1837. He’s not our guy but at least he seems to have lived an interesting life!
Back to our Elijah Sacket (only one “T”).
Elijah was born in 1768 in Sheffield, Massachusetts. He moved with his parents (Benjamin and Dorothy) and siblings to New York State shortly before the American Revolution began. In 1789, he married Dorothy Hitchcock. Eventually with his wife he moved to Hartford, NY located in Washington County. Elijah and Dorothy had five children: Elisabeth, Erminia, Electa, Ebenezer, and Erwin.
Elijah had been part of the militia in Washington County from 1800 to 1807 in Colonel Solomon Baker’s Regiment of the Brigade of the Militia of said county. During that time, Elijah was promoted from private to lieutenant.
Sometime between 1807 and 1809, Elijah decided to move his family to Northern New York. They settled in Gouverneur, where Elijah worked as a miller. He must have decided to join the local militia, the 123rd Regiment, which was also known as Benedict’s Regiment (Thomas Benedict) located in St. Lawrence County.
Elijah’s movements during the War of 1812 are unclear thanks to the lack of both surviving and digitized documents. His name does not show up on any digital records of muster rolls for the regiments of St. Lawrence County. Solely based on his grave site in Pierrepont, NY, we know that Elijah was en-route to Plattsburgh from Sackets Harbor. He died from some kind of sickness, which was very common in the military camps during the War. Oddly enough, Elijah has a second gravestone in Gouverneur, where his wife and some of his children are buried.
The unknown soldier is still a mystery. I haven’t been able to find any real information from the muster rolls for St. Lawrence County. As I already mentioned, Elijah is not listed on any lists I was able to find online and there was nothing related to the death dates of April 7th and 13th.
Researching Elijah Sacket was difficult. Many of the online resources I found had a lot of conflicting information or just general lack of information, which made things confusing.
For example on Ancestry.com I found a record that listed Elijah Sacket as “Benedict’s Regiment, NY Militia, Private” and another listed him as “Elijah Sacket (1768-1813) lieutenant, Washington County Regiment, NY.” This is the same Elijah, just the information is not a lot to go on and are about two different times during Elijah’s life. Finding other sources online helped piece together what little is known.
I also think it’s interesting to look at the maintenance of a very small grave site, along with the remembrance of soldiers who died during the War of 1812. A lot of books and articles on the War of 1812 call it the “forgotten war.” Have we forgotten the War of 1812? I’m not sure. Being a historian who’s interested in local and early American history, I know it happened and I’ve done some research on it (as in this blog post). I also know that Northern New York played a very important role being the Northern frontier to Canada (British Territory) during the War.
The town of Pierrepont is in charge of the maintenance of the property. As you can see in the images, it’s not a very noticeable place and parking isn’t easy. Today when I was at the site taking pictures, it was obviously I had been the only visitor so far. So what happens when a place isn’t easily accessible. Do we forget about it? Should the effort be put in to preserve it and remember it? How do we make it so that people notice this marker more?
Maybe by spreading the word that it exists. I’m not sure if there are “right” answers to these questions. But on that note, this is the final resting place of two soldiers who fought to protect early America and they died 203 years ago to the day. Let’s spread the word that they lived.
If anyone has thoughts or ideas on how to find more information on Elijah’s movements during the War or how to figure out the identity of the unknown soldier, leave a comment or send me a message.
The following is a list of resources I found online that were helpful in figuring out the story of Elijah Sacket. They also might be helpful if you have your own personal genealogical research you’re working on.
Elijah Sacket Family Tree Information:
Thurmon King’s New Sackett Family Tree, http://sackett-tree.org/getperson.php?personID=I1439&tree=1, accessed 04/09/2016.
The Sackett Family Association: Sacketts in the Military, http://sackettfamily.info/militarysacketts.htm, accessed 04/08/2016.
Information on the Grave Site:
Soldier’s Graves, War of 1812, Town of Pierrepont, http://stlawrencecountycemeteries.org/Pierrepont/soldiers.htm, accessed 04/11/2016.
Images of the Grave Site:
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=28033906, accessed 04/09/2016.
http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=77837, accessed 04/10/2016
Elijah Sacket and St. Lawrence County:
“What was going on in St. Lawrence County 200 years ago? Here’s a town-by-town look, from Canton to Waddington,” July 3, 2012. http://northcountrynow.com/news/what-was-going-st-lawrence-county-200-years-ago-heres-town-town-look-canton-waddington-061006, accessed 04/08/2016.
St. Lawrence County Quarterly, Volume 3, 2011. The entire journal is about the War of 1812 in St. Lawrence County. There’s a lot of cool information and a little information on Elijah Sacket. I found a copy at the Potsdam Public Library.
“De Kalb’s Own General: Thomas Benedict,” Bryan Thompson, De Kalb’s historian. http://www.dekalbnyhistorian.org/LocalHistoryArticles/DeKalbGeneral/DeKalbGeneral.html, accessed 04/10/2016.
Documents of the Senate of New York, Vol.9 https://books.google.com/books?id=LKIlAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA498&dq=elijah+sacket&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiglsLvzofMAhULWxQKHc0IB304ChDoAQgbMAA#v=onepage&q=elijah%20sacket&f=false, accessed 04/09/2016.
Information on the War of 1812:
War of 1812 Bicentennial, http://slcha.org/warof1812/bicentennial.php, accessed 04/07/2016.
St. Lawrence County War fo 1812 History Trail, http://slcha.org/warof1812/sites.php, accessed 04/07/2016.
A note on Ancestry.com: I do not have a subscription to Ancestry.com, the Potsdam Public Library does. If you’re in the Library using their WiFi, you can get access to Ancestry.com through their website. It’s really cool that the Library has access to Ancestry.com and it helped when I was researching!