Ceremonies to honor Revolutionary War patriots Saturday

By Ryan Cornell

Two Shenandoah County men who served on militias during the Revolutionary War will be honored Saturday with grave-marking ceremonies.

Jacob Nehs will be honored at the Mount Solomon’s Lutheran Church Cemetery near Forestville at 10:30 a.m. and George Adam Zirkle will be honored at the Zirkle Cemetery in New Market at 1 p.m.

The two men appeared on militia lists during the time of the Revolutionary War, although Strasburg resident Robert Andrews said he could only speculate on whether they were involved in battle or not.

Andrews, a descendant of Nehs and Zirkle, will provide a keynote speech at the ceremony detailing their lives, accomplishments and reasons for receiving the honor.

Nehs’ older brother, Michael, married Zirkle’s sister, Margaretha, in a church in Pennsylvania, according to Andrews.

“It’s interesting, the church record says ‘Gone to Virginia’ right after they got married,” Andrews said.

He said Nehs and Zirkle moved to the southern part of Shenandoah County after the war, eventually becoming neighbors, and would meet each other at various events, although they attended different churches.

The two militiamen lived on to the 1800s, Andrews said, with Zirkle living to 67 and Nehs to 81.

“Which in those days, a lot of people would die earlier,” Andrews said, “but German men tended to live a lot longer.”

The grave-marking ceremonies are conducted by the Winchester-based Col. James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society for the Sons of the American Revolution.

Jack Lillis, chairman of the chapter’s graves registration committee, said they try to annually mark one or two graves of men who either fought in the Revolutionary War or made a significant contribution to the war effort.

“Like maybe giving a bunch of horses or hay or feed or any type of contribution, we would say that’s a patriot,” Lillis said.

In addition to the keynote speech delivered by Andrews, Lillis said they will place a stone in the ground in front of the gravestone inscribed with the word, “Patriot,” along with a color guard, a musket salute and a rendition of taps.

“It honors the gravesites of those who fought for our country,” Lillis said. “The ones who gave us our country.”

The two ceremonies, which are identical, are free and open to the public.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com