Dr. T. Rex Legler II of Bloomington, a national vice-president of the Sons of the American Revolution, places a wreath on the rededicated grave of Thomas Archbold, a veteran of the Revolutionary War buried near Decatur. (Photo by Eric Mann)
A lengthy program to rededicate the gravesite near Decatur of Revolutionary War soldier Thomas W. Archbold drew perhaps 250 people to Reynolds Cemetery on Winchester Rd. on Saturday.
The ceremony included not just veterans of wars of the 20th century, but also a contingent from Midwestern members of the Sons of the American Legion (SAR) dressed in replica military uniforms and hats from the 18th century.
Decatur Mayor John Schultz read a proclamation to make the day "Thomas Archbold Day" as he stated, "We pause, honor, and praise this day to recognize Thomas Archbold, Revolutionary War veteran buried at Reynolds Cemetery.
"The 175th birthday of our city gives us the opportunity to reflect upon the high ideals and devotion of the men who framed our Constitution and to review the many freedoms and privileges of liberty we so abundantly enjoy today.
"This celebration of Thomas Archbold's life and eternal resting site serves as an important reminder that our nation was founded on the principle of freedom and that it for us, the living, to forever protect and strengthen our unique heritage."
Schultz said that the first mayor of Decatur, James T. Merryman in 1882, was a great-grandson of Archbold and that Thomas Johnson, who helped create Decatur by selling the land that became the first plat for the community, was a grandson of Archbold.
Many others spoke briefly of their genealogical connections to Archbold in Adams and Wells counties.
This was the third dedicatory ceremony at the Reynolds Cemetery. The others were held in 1936, when Adams County and Decatur jointly celebrated their 100th anniversaries, and in 1998.
The mistress of ceremonies, retired teacher Janet Torson, a distant relative of Archbold, told the crowd about him: from birth in 1755 in Pennsylvania to death in Root Township in 1837 at age 82. He moved here in 1835 or 1836.
Torson said Archbold fought in three to five military campaigns during the Revolutionary War and served as a ranger, a scout, a builder of forts, and a fighter against native Americans. She added that he also served in the military during the Whiskey Rebellion and was paid a total of $3.80 at a rate of 10 cents per day for 38 days.
"We are a country built on freedom," said Torson as she lauded all those who have helped to maintain that freedom.
She ended by declaring, "To you, Thomas Archbold, we thank you and are proud to call you our own."
The other speakers were the following:
• Rev. Joyce Helm Kuhn, Decatur native and a descendant of Archbold, as she gave the invocation.
• Eugene Butcher, a descendant of Archbold, who led the audience in The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag.
• Dr. T. Rex Legler II of Bloomington, national vice-president of the SAR.
• Roger Barnhart, vice-president of the central district of the Indiana unit of the SAR.
• Don Melching of the Anthony Halberstadt chapter of the SAR in Adams and Allen counties.
• Judith Richter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), reading a letter from Martha Barnhart, Indiana regent of the DAR.
• Marlene Melching, a longtime member of the Antoine Rivarre chapter of the DAR, who led the audience in a reading of "The American Creed," which was adopted by Congress in 1918.
Richter also unveiled the new Archbold monument, which was decorated by several types of wreaths.
Area singer Ryan Hirschy led everyone in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America, the Beautiful."
A three-volley rifle salute was given by the color guard members of American Legion Post 43, the playing of "Taps" by Post 43 trumpeter Dave Rice, a benediction by Post 43 chaplain Jan Smith, and the posting and retirement of flags by the uniformed SAR delegation.