2018 Oaks Chapter News & Announcements

Patriot Levi Collins Honored at Graveside Ceremony

A special ceremony to honor Levi Collins, a soldier of the American Revolutionary War took place at McCafferty Cemetery in Bruce Township September 16. The Oaks Chapter of the Michigan Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (MISSAR) hosted the event. “One of the objectives of the Sons of the American Revolution is to locate the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers and patriots and place a marker on their graves in order to identify and preserve the legacy of these individuals for many generations to come,” said Oaks Chapter President James Walker.

The ceremony included patriotic music from the First Congregational Church UCC Music Ensemble, a procession of colors from the MISSAR Color Guard and local Boy Scout troops, a 21-gun salute from the Old Settlers VFW Post 4659 in Shelby Township, and a sword salute from the MISSAR Color Guard.

This isn’t the first time Patriot Collins has been honored by the community. A previous ceremony took place on September 15, 1957, when the John Crawford Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) dedicated a plaque in his honor. The marker, unfortunately, disappeared years later.

John M. Raya, Second Vice President of the Oaks Chapter, has performed extensive research on Collins and was able to find out quite a bit about him via military records. Levi Collins was born on January 1, 1760 in Vermont. He served as a private in Captain Everett’s Company, Colonel Bedells' regiment, New Hampshire Line during the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1776. He was also involved in the Siege of Quebec. “Levi was discharged at Fort Saratoga in November or December 1776," Raya notes. "After this one year of service, he returned to re-enlist for the duration of the war as a Scout Ranger (in) Vermont. Service would consist of deployments of one month to watch for British movement south of Canada. Levi did participate in two skirmishes in that service.”

Smallpox ran rampant among soldiers during that period, and although Collins contracted the disease, he did recover from it. His brother Richard and his father Ephraim, however, were not so lucky; Richard died in March 1776, Ephraim in June 1776.

Later, Levi became one of the earliest settlers in Bruce Township, moving with his wife Abigail and children there in 1831. “This adventure was similar in many ways to his military service," says DAR Regent Katherine Eschenburg. "He and his family as pioneers required courage, bravery, wit, and a strong sense of determination.” Levi Collins died on April 10, 1837 in Romeo at age 77.

Several of Collins’ descendants were in attendance at the ceremony, including great-great-great-grandson Kenneth W. Starring, who is a World War II Army Air Corps veteran, his daughter Pamela Starring Roehr, and great-niece Debbie Belloli. They had the honor of unveiling the new plaque. Mr. Starring was also honored with a special pin that was recently issued by the DAR to honor World War II veterans.

Pamela Starring Roehr was nine years old when Collins' first plaque was dedicated in 1957. Though she could not recall much of the ceremony, after performing her own research, she is proud of having a Revolutionary War hero in her family. “I was overwhelmed and so proud to be part of this celebration of my great-great-great-great grandfather. It’s nice to see so many interested in this history,” she said.

Watch “Pvt. Levi Collins: Patriot Grave Marking Ceremony”on Vimeo.

Click on any image above to enter the gallery.

Article written by Stacy Sobotka. Edited by Gregory Winters.

Oaks Chapter Holds Educational Outreach Event

On April 24, members of the State Society Color Guard were on hand at Cherokee Elementary School in Clinton Township for education and fun. Guardsmen David Moore, Ken Goodson, and Rod Wilson represented the Guard, and were joined by Oaks Chapter President James Walker and 1st Vice President John Raya, who also gave presentations.

There was a flag etiquette portion of the event for the group as a whole, then the students were divided into four subgroups to participate in four stations as follows:

  • Quill and Ink writing
  • Declaration of Independence Bingo
  • Color Guard Revolutionary War Q & A
  • Revolutionary War replica currency/Joshua Bentley grave marker

Click any photo above to learn more.