Becky Shank, Regent of Abiel-Fellow DAR called to ask if I could put information in the local papers about a theft which occurred after Memorial Day. Shank posts American flags at the graves of pioneers in several cemeteries. Upon returning to pick up a flag at Constantine Township Cemetery on June 21, she discovered someone had pilfered a bronze 1916 medallion plaque-flag holder honoring the single Revolutionary War soldier we have buried at the cemetery–Rev. Edward Evans (1756-1853). The marker had 13 stars, crossed rifles in the center, and was green and weathered looking.
Sue Silliman talks about Rev. Evans in “St. Joseph in Homespun,” published in 1931. “Information on pensioners of the Revolutionary War living in St. Joseph County was obtained. Rev. Edward Evans was described in the “Constantine Mercury” newspaper on Jan. 17, 1854 as a soldier of the Cross and the Revolution. He entered the Revolutionary army in 1781 at the age of 15, was employed in active duty for two years, then honorably discharged with his compatriots. He entered the ministry in 1789 and settled in Enfield, Grafton County, N.H. Here he was elected a member of the legislator, and later served 12 years as judge of probate. Evans lived in New York, then Ohio before coming to Constantine. He was a member of the Siloam Masonic Lodge. His grave was officially located by the Abiel Fellows chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution in 1907 and marked in 1917 by the Algonquin Chapter of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. A record of his life and descendents was compiled by the state historian of the D.A.R. in 1918 and published in Smithsonian war records.”
This is the second incident to my knowledge, we have had of someone stealing a precious local historic artifact. In January, 2011, a large historic bronze plaque commemorating local hero Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz (1864-1925) was stolen off the large rock it was mounted on, on the corner of Third and South Washington Streets. During war or in peacetime, no part of the mission of the military is more sensitive than the responsibility for the care and burial of the dead who served honorably in our armed forces. The fact Rev. Evans served in the Revolutionary War should merit extra respect, and Bandholtz was a hero not only in America, but abroad. It is an honor these men come from Constantine. The natural reluctance we have to send men into battle should inspire an especially respectful approach to the care of the remains of those who have served. People who steal items which honor our fallen soldiers, steal something important to us all–our integrity.
Editor’s Note: Rev. Edward Evans grave marker photo contributed by Angie Birdsall, bronze 1916 medallion plaque- flag holder photo provided by Rebecca Shank, Bandholtz memorial marker photo contributed by Bruce Snook of the River Country Journal.