Bicentennial of the War of 1812 commemorated

Staff Reports
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Mary Jane Smith introduced local historian and former classmate Robert Wilder of St. Joe at the November John Houlton Chapter’s Veteran’s Day program. Recently re-elected to his ninth term in DeKalb County government, Wilder has devoted much of his retirement to the research and documentation of DeKalb County veterans who served in the War of 1812.

AUBURN — Robert Wilder presented the Nov. 10 program for the John Houlton Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

His program commemorated the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. As a former history teacher and media specialist for 43 years at DeKalb Central High School, Wilder’s program was an in-depth study of the reasons for the War of 1812. The presentation also cited statistics regarding DeKalb County 1812 veterans who lived and died in this area, and a listing of their names along with details about their lives.

Wilder’s interest in documenting DeKalb County War of 1812 veterans began when he was a boy and his parents commemorated Memorial Day at the Alton Cemetery.

In 2010, Wilder portrayed his ancestor, Major Daniel Abel (1776-1869) who is buried in the Alton Cemetery. After developing a monologue about Abel for a cemetery re enactment in 2012, Wilder and his brother became members of the Indiana Society of the War of 1812, which in turn led Wilder in his on-going DeKalb County research. Wilder has located up to 73 War of 1812 veterans who are buried in DeKalb County.

The War of 1812 was fought against the British during the time of a number of “war hawks” in Congress, especially Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. It was thought that the war would allow America to settle grievances with England as well as invade Canada at a time when Europe was involved in fighting Napoleon.

The Battle of Tippecanoe, led by William Henry Harrison, in 1811, occurred near West Lafayette.

After Napoleon was defeated, Britain turned her attention to American and conducted a three-prong war, striking in Chesapeake Bay, New Orleans, and the Lake Champlain area. The battles gave rise to now-familiar sayings such as, “Don’t give up the ship,” “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” And “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.” Some of the devastation occurred in Washington, D.C., when the White House was burned. At Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the “Star Spangled Banner.’

At the end of the program, chapter members stood to honor the DeKalb County veterans of the War of 1812, as Wilder read a roster of their names and told where each is buried. The program ended with taps.

Gretel Smith thanked Wilder for his research, stating it has added invaluably to the archives of the Willennar Genealogy Center.

In a short business meeting, Regent Betty Bridgwater led the ritual, Karen Bash gave the minutes, Linda Quick presented the treasurer’s report, and Mary Jane Smith presented the National Defense Report. Hostesses for the meeting were Alice Richards, Mary Jane Smith, Linda Quick and Gretel Smith.

The next meeting will be a Christmas brunch in Fort Wayne on Dec. 8.

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