CLOVER -- They fought tyranny and helped give birth to the United States of America, but many laid long forgotten in the earth at Bethel Cemetery.
That is until a woman from Texas called Bethel Presbyterian Church asking for help tracking down one of her ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Cary Grant, the unofficial church historian -- having assumed the role from his father-in-law -- took her call, and found a headstone for one Capt. John Barber in the church graveyard. That was more than two years ago.
"I got to thinking, Bethel is so historic, being established in 1764, there had to be more," Grant said. "I told my wife we're taking on this project."
With help from Daughters of the American Revolution S.C. State Historian, Lucy Willis, Grant came up with a list of 48 names of soldiers buried in the cemetery. And there could be a few more, Willis said.
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Wyant and Son, a stone monument company from Gastonia, N.C. installed a 2-ton granite marker at the cemetery entrance this week to recognize the Revolutionary War veterans. It will be dedicated during a ceremony at the cemetery at 10 a.m. Saturday. It will include the names of 29 of the roughly four dozen soldiers buried there. The other 19-21 names are still pending DAR approval and will be added to the monument at a later date, Willis said.
"I do monuments of this type all the time," Leon Wyant said.
But this is the first DAR monument this big, or with this many names Wyant has made. The slab of granite, shaped like a tombstone, stands nearly six feet tall. It's three feet wide and eight inches thick, he said. The stone took six weeks to move from the quarry in Georgia to Gastonia, then Wyant spent a week cutting, polishing and engraving it.
He'll return to add the remaining names once they are approved.
He also made a smaller monument for Barber at the request of his descendants that was installed in the cemetery in 2007. That marker was sponsored by a DAR chapter in New Mexico, Willis said.
"That (dedication ceremony) was my first time in Clover," Willis said, though she had been to King's Mountain for the Revolutionary War re-enactments several times. "While I was there Cary and his wife Helen, and other church members told me about the church history and the number of patriots buried there."
After working with Grant for several months to document all the soldiers, Willis took a request to mark the graves to the DAR National Conference in 2007 and then to the Historian General's office.
"They said yes, they'd let us do it, and I was surprised because we have a rule that a (DAR) chapter or (state) society can only mark five graves," she said. "But some of those men buried there have already been established with at least one DAR member joining under their name."
However, no one had joined the organization under the names of several of the soldiers buried at Bethel. DAR members have to prove a family link to someone who served in the Revolution to join under that patriot's name, Willis said.
"This is the first time we've had this many patriots without a member (in one place)," Willis said. "This is the first time the S.C. DAR Chapter is doing a monument this large with this many names."
Willis and Grant still have a lot of work to do to get the other names added.
Most of the research is done at the S.C. Department of Archives and History in Columbia.
"It's getting easier because all the old documents and records are now on microfilm," she said. "We think Dr. William McLean is out there too.
"All of these patriots lived in that area and they were all neighbors and intermarried."
The families have spread far beyond York County though. Willis, who now lives in Alabama, and Grant expect visitors from North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico and other states to attend the ceremony.
More information about joining DAR is available at www.dar.org.