In a heartfelt tribute to a patriot soldier, the Lafayette Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution hosted a touching ceremony on Saturday, May 20, at the historic old Graveyard in Cynthiana. The event served to honor the memory of Sgt. Joseph Lawrence Stephens, an esteemed figure who played a vital role in the fight for American independence.

Sgt. Stephens, born in 1764 in Stephensburg, Virginia, displayed unwavering dedication to the cause of the American Revolution. He served valiantly in the Virginia State military and local militias under the leadership of distinguished officers such as Colonel David Kennedy, Lieutenant Colonel David Smith, Major Samuel Gilkerson and Captain William Kirtley. As a prison guard, Sgt. Stephens diligently watched over captured British troops, contributing to the ultimate victory of the American forces.

After the war, Stephens and his wife, Nancy, embarked on a journey to Kentucky in 1784, becoming early settlers of Ruddle’s Mills in Bourbon County. In fact, Stephens is hailed as the first farmer in the county. Tragically, Nancy passed away in 1791, but Stephens found love once more and married Lucy Garrard, niece of James Garrard, a prominent Bourbon Countian who later served as Kentucky’s second governor.

In 1848, at the remarkable age of 83, Sgt. Joseph Lawrence Stephens peacefully passed away, leaving behind a profound legacy. His final resting place is marked by a majestic stone obelisk in the Old Graveyard, a testament to his significant contributions to the nation.

The grave marking ceremony held by the Sons of the American Revolution aimed to pay tribute to Sgt. Stephens and recognize the sacrifices made by countless men and women during the fight for American independence. The event featured heartfelt remarks, a resounding musket salute by the SAR Color Guard, and the unveiling of a marker ensuring that future generations will readily identify Sgt. Stephens as a distinguished veteran of the American Revolution.

“Sgt. Stephens dedicated his life to our nation, not only securing our independence, but also playing a crucial role in shaping our young nation,” remarked Patrick Wesolosky, President of the Lafayette Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. “It is our duty to honor his memory today and for generations to come.”

Adding a personal touch to the occasion, a descendant of Sgt. Stephens, a resident of Tennessee, took an active role in the ceremony by offering remarks, as well as participating in the musket salute.

Through this poignant ceremony, Sgt. Joseph Lawrence Stephens was posthumously celebrated for his role in achieving our nation’s freedom. The Lafayette Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution ensured that his memory will live on, reminding of the sacrifices made by those who laid the foundation for the country we proudly call home.

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