A dedication with honors

Published 12:10 am Thursday, March 9, 2023

Daughters of American Revolution organize grave marker dedication for Revolutionary War militia member from Clemmons

About 100 people gathered on Saturday in a small cemetery to honor the service of a man none of them knew or had met; a man who had been laid to rest almost 200 years ago.
The Hope Moravian Church original God’s Acre cemetery is located near the site of the original church, nestled in secluded woods off Sides Mill Road, near the heart of Clemmons off Highway 158.
At the cemetery, the graves, some from almost 250 years ago, lie quiet and undisturbed, just as they were placed centuries ago. There are other Revolution War patriots buried here, along with their families and other church members, set in sections of “choirs,” in the Moravian way.
Christopher Elrod Jr. was part of a farming family that settled in the Yadkin Settlement (now Clemmons) before the American Revolution. At 19 years old, Elrod enlisted in the militia and served from May 1776 to March 1779. Returning home, he married, raised a family, farmed and faithfully served Hope Moravian Church before his passing in 1827.
The Old North State Chapter DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and Hope Moravian Church partnered to honor Elrod, an American Revolutionary War Patriot, with the ceremony.
“This all started when Cathie Alexander, our Regent, responded to an internet request from a DAR member from another state,” said Laura Vance, one of the organizers of the event and a member of the Old North State DAR chapter. “One came from Michigan, one in California. They were trying to find someone familiar with the original God’s Acre from Hope Moravian Church because they had ancestors buried there. Karen Rowley, who is a descendant of Mr. Elrod, was the person in Michigan. So Kathy went out and found the cemetery, which is deep in the heart of Clemmons. She continued to have correspondence with Karen. On one of her visits to the cemetery, Kathy found some people working and refurbishing the headstones because some of them were in pretty rough shape. Some folks from our chapter went out and helped raise some headstones and clean them up. Karen came down and saw the gravestone was in rough shape and decided she wanted to do something to honor her relative and decided on a plaque to place at the gravestone. That’s how we got connected. This was approved by the church and DAR. And none of this would have happened without the help of Andrew Craver, who helps maintain the cemetery for the church today.”
Rowley was not able to attend Saturday’s ceremony, but members of the local DAR chapter recorded the service on video and were going to send it to her.
A plaque was presented at Elrod’s gravestone, an SAR Color Guard in Revolutionary era uniforms presented the flag and a Moravian band provided music for the service.
“When we were sending out invitations to the church members to come, we learned that there were two more descendants from those also buried there, which was really neat,” Vance said. “We had quite a few church members show up Saturday and seven DAR chapters from across the state, as far away as Burlington and Mooresville. Each chapter brought a wreath to lay at the gravestone for the ceremony.”
This inaugural event launches a year of celebration marking Old North State DAR Chapter’s 100th birthday — a century of promoting patriotism, preserving American history, fellowship and community service.
It is also inspired by America250, a coalition of public and private partners, working together to commemorate America’s 250th anniversary and the founding of a new nation.
Alexander read a more detailed biography of Elrod during the service, noting that he was one of 12 children in the Elrod family and that since the Moravian religion is known for being pacifist, Elrod did not engage in combat during the Revolutionary War. He drove wagons that delivered supplies to the troops after his father paid a tax for a religious exemption.
“All that is left of his gravestone is four pieces, so if the Moravians hadn’t kept such great records, we might not have known he was even there,” Vance said. “What I think is especially unique is that this Revolutionary War soldier lived his life right here in Clemmons — not Boston, Philadelphia or even Old Salem. And we are just so thrilled that this has worked out like it has and that we can honor this man this way.”