Cemetery walk retells stories of War of 1812

BY JESSICA SHOR
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jack Schaffer talks about the life and death of Sylvanus Hatch, who is buried at the gravesite during a Fort Meigs Cemetery Walk hosted by the Way Public Library featuring re-enactors at the gravesites of War of 1812 veterans on Sunday. Jack Schaffer talks about the life and death of Sylvanus Hatch, who is buried at the gravesite during a Fort Meigs Cemetery Walk hosted by the Way Public Library featuring re-enactors at the gravesites of War of 1812 veterans on Sunday. THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT

Despite concerns about rain, the sun shone on Douglas Pratt as he stood before his great-great-grandfather’s gravestone in the Perrysburg town cemetery on Sunday.

Before an audience of nearly 100, the Perrysburg Township resident recalled William Pratt’s journey from New York to northwest Ohio, where he fought at Fort Meigs during the War of 1812 then settled in the area with his family.

Mr. Pratt’s monologue, part of a cemetery walk organized by the Way Public Library in Perrysburg to retell the stories of local War of 1812 veterans, celebrated his ancestor’s accomplishments during the war’s bicentennial.

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“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here,” said Mr. Pratt, describing his admiration for the soldier’s sense of adventure.

“When you think about how they traveled, how they got here when there was nothing here, you appreciate the sacrifices they made. To even come here, let alone fight in a war, is hard for us to comprehend,” he explained.

During the hour-long tour at Fort Meigs Union Cemetery, participants also encountered local veterans including the Rev. Joseph Badger, a missionary to local Native Americans and the founder of the Presbyterian Church in the Maumee Valley; Major Amos Stoddard, who helped Lewis and Clark recruit men for their journey west; and Richard Blinn, who built the road that would become U.S. Route 20.

Sunday’s cemetery tour marked the conclusion of Way Library’s week-long series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

The cemetery tour, hosted by the library and Historic Perrysburg, featured 1812 veterans portrayed by historical interpreters in correct attire, said Judy Justus, a local historian who helped organize the tour.

She searched the cemetery’s records page by page to locate War of 1812 veterans buried on the grounds. She, like Mr. Pratt, hoped the tour would open the community’s eyes to a conflict often called “the forgotten war.”

“We wanted visitors to gain an appreciation that the veterans didn’t just fight,” Mrs. Justus said, “but also came back here and made lives for themselves.”

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