Ocean City Today

Independence celebrated by local descendants of patriots

Worcester women can trace family to Revolutionary War, remember sacrifices made
Jul 06, 2017
Photo by: Katie Tabeling Top: Effie Cox, Gail Lewis. Bottom: Theresa Nauschetz

(July 7, 2017) Fourth of July was earlier this week, but for some Worcester County women with ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War, patriotism is not a one-day celebration.

“I love this county and the freedoms we enjoy. The Fourth of July is a celebration of that, and honoring those that fought for our country,” said Theresa Nauschuetz of Ocean Pines. “It celebrates something that was a turn against the tide of the time: standing up against the forces of England.”

Nauschuetz is the register of the Samuel Chase chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution. Worcester County has two Daughters of the Revolution chapters, including the Samuel Chase chapter that serves Salisbury and the General Levin Winder Chapter in southern Worcester. In both chapters, there are approximately 170 women who can trace their ancestors to Revolutionary War patriots.

Nauschuetz, who also is a genealogist, said it’s likely there’s more patriot descendants in Worcester County than the DAR membership reflects.

“I’ve found that I start research here, there’s a lot of people that were raised here, and their families have been in [Worcester] since God was a child,” she said.

Nauschuetz has three patriots documented so far, including Joseph White, who was descended from one of the first Jamestown families, and Absalom Hughes of Virginia. Hughes participated against the march from Charles County to Williamsburg to confront loyalist Gov. Dunmore. Dunmore attempted to quell rebellion by trying to removing the gunpowder from the colony’s armory.

“When I’ve heard what people have done, it sends chills up my spine,” Nauschuetz said. “They believed in something so strongly to go hungry for it, to walk without shoes and their feet were bloody. They were willing to die for it. We can enjoy the freedoms we have today because of them.”

Fellow member Gail Lewis, who is the vice president of M.R. Ducks, said that her connection to two men that fought in the Continental Army strengthens her appreciation to this country.

“I’m very proud that I had family members that fought for us. I don’t think history is taught in school with an emphasis of what people went through at the time,” she said.

Lewis’ ancestors, William Blythe and Henry Prince, both served in the army in Virginia before making their way south after the war. Blythe later became the architect of a ferry that transported Cherokee Indians across the Tennessee River as part of the Trail of Tears.

Lewis and Nauschuetz both had husbands that served in the military, and found that deepened their understanding of what patriotism is. Lewis said women were silent patriots during the Revolutionary War as well. Proving their involvement through records is difficult, since the first census was in 1790 and women rarely received property through wills.

“They were probably taking care of the home front. I’d like to think it was similar when my husband was in the Air Force,” Lewis said. “They’d be responsible for the children and finances like I was.”

Other DAR members like Effie Cox of Ocean Pines, who is also a member of the Old Kent Chapter, said that the Fourth of July reminds her of what true sacrifice is to a country. Cox’s patriot, Thomas Smythe, used his successful shipbuilding company to bankroll the rebellion. Cox said she found documents that showed that Smythe declared bankruptcy in 1792.

“It cost him everything, including the business, and he had to start all over. He didn’t have to do anything,” Cox said. “He had a nice life. Those in the military sacrifice for us, but there were others you don’t really think about that gave up their homes and their communities because they rebelled. I’d love to say I had resolve.”

The three women were proud to say that their family had a role in history, even if it’s faded from other citizens’ minds.

“There’s a quote from Thomas Payne: ‘sunshine patriots need not apply,’” Cox said. “They walked the walk and stood by their beliefs of this government, no matter what it cost.”

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