Thanks to an accidental meeting at the Plymouth Historical Museum last August, three men — volunteer historical archivist Garry Packard, Vietnam War veteran John Pappas and amateur genealogist Mike Roberts — have come together to give recognition to the man they believe is the only Revolutionary War veteran buried in Plymouth.
According to research done by Packard, who has spent years studying cemeteries and burials in Plymouth, the remains of Revolutionary War veteran Titus Vespatian Hoisington are still buried on the property of the First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth, which was once the site of Plymouth's Old Presbyterian Cemetery.
Pappas, who headed the effort to build a Vietnam War memorial in Plymouth in the 1980s, hopes to raise about $6,000 to place a monument in Hoisington's honor in front of the church, and to pay for a dedication ceremony July Fourth.
"We really want to make sure we can get the funding to pay for the monument and for a special ceremony," he said. "This is a great honor for Plymouth, to have a Revolutionary War veteran buried here."
Pappas said Packard approached him last summer to see if he could persuade the First Presbyterian Church to get on board with a monument.
"Garry approached them about this a few years ago, when he first figured this out, but they didn't really seem interested," Pappas said. "When I gave it a shot a few months ago, they got on board."
Pappas was meeting with Packard at the Historical Museum in August when, by chance, Roberts was visiting the museum to do research on his wife's family.
Roberts, who lives in East Lansing with his wife, Patty, and their two young children, had been doing research on both their families to put into a book of geneaology for Katherine, 4, and Nicholas, 2.
He traced Patty's family back to Hoisington, who is her sixth-great-grandfather, and hoped to learn more about him by going through the museum's archives.
For Packard, discovering living descendents of Hoisington made the research even more exciting. The Robertses are equally enthused about the fact that their relative will be given special honors in Plymouth.
"I'm going to reach out to all the Hoisington descendents I know of in Michigan and tell them about the ceremony," Mike Roberts said. "I think it will be really exciting and eye-opening for people, because I think a lot of them don't even know that their ancestor was in the Revolutionary War."
According to Roberts' research, Hoisington was born in 1763 in Connecticut and moved with his family to Vermont when he was 9. In 1778, when Hoisington was 15, he volunteered to serve in the Vermont Militia, where he helped protect the northern border of the frontier against Native American and British attacks from Canada during the American Revolution.
Hoisington continued to serve in the militia until his discharge in 1791. The soldier, who was married by then, moved from state to state in the northeast with his family until they were drawn to the promise of land in the new Michigan Territory.
In 1833, Hoisington and his family settled in what is now Salem Township, near Five Mile Road and Pontiac Trail.
In 1841, Hoisington was buried at the Presbyterian Cemetery in an unmarked grave, which was common at that time.
In 1915, when the city decided to vacate the cemetery due to health concerns, contractors moved all marked graves to Riverside Cemetery. But according to historical documents, unknown remains were not moved.
In 1936, the Presbyterian Church on that site burned down. When reconstruction began, human remains were found, but construction workers used the crumbling remains as fill dirt.
More human remains were found during construction on the church in the 1950s and 1990s; those were transferred to Riverside Cemetery.
A notarized letter, written by his great-granddaughter Hattie Hoisington, describes the location of Titus Hoisington's grave. His remains are believed to be among those discovered in 1936, but so far, that cannot be verified.
Those interested in donating to Hoisington Memorial Fund may send contributions, payable to "Hoisington Memorial Fund" to:
Community Financial Bank
500 S. Harvey St.
P.O. Box 8050
Plymouth, MI 48170
The dedication ceremony, being planned by Pappas, along with the Plymouth Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, will include a performance by the Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps and a 24-hour vigil the day before the ceremony.