BY TOM YANCEY
Three Greene Countians who served in the Revolutionary War -- one of them a mother -- have been by several groups of descendants.
The event last Saturday was organized by Timothy Eldridge Massey, to honor his great-great-great-great-great grandparents, Andrew and Barbara Susong, and their son, Nicholas, for their service in the Revolutionary War soon after arriving in this country from France.
The event was held at Susong Memorial Church, where they are buried, on an sunny morning that was perfect for the occasion.
Massey, who is commander in chief of the Society of the Descendants of Washington's Army at Valley Forge, and a member of the Tennessee Brigade, Greene's Regiment, welcomed the small crowd.
Ronnie Lail, president of the Watauga chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, led the pledge to the flag, after the colors were presented by Cub Scout Ethan Brooks, another Susong descendant.
Susie Southerland Phillips offered the invocation. She, like Massey, her first cousin, is also a Susong descendant.
Massey said the Susongs came to America on the ship La Victoria with the Marquis de Lafayette and landed at Georgetown, S.C.
They soon made their way to Philadelphia, as did Lafayette. There, Andrew and Nicholas enlisted in the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment and served for the rest of the war.
SHE 'PASSED' AS A MAN
Barbara took a younger son, John Jacob, and went to Virginia, where she passed as a man and joined another regiment, Massey said.
Most women who served as soldiers in the Revolutionary War had to pass as men, he said, and were "drummed out" if discovered.
Massey said Barbara Susong was apparently held in such high regard that this did not happen, possibly because of her tie to Lafayette.
Instead, after three years of service, Barbara Susong was given a land grant and bounty of 25 pounds in American currency.
Because married women could not own land in their own name at the time, the land grant went to her husband.
After the war, the Susongs left Pennsylvania and settled in the vicinity of what is now Lexington, Tenn.
In the same area were the Sevier and Houston families, he said. Massey noted that these families later produced John Sevier, the first Tennessee governor, and Sam Houston, also governor of Tennessee and the first governor of Texas.
MOVED HERE IN 1817
In 1794, the Susongs settled near what is now Bristol, Va., and moved to Greene County in 1817, Massey said.
At one time, they owned and farmed a total of 1,200 acres, including the land on which the church now stands and where they are buried.
David Whaley, president of the Tennessee Society, Sons of the Revolution, spoke briefly.
WINTER AT VALLEY FORGE
It took 10,000 cords of firewood to see Washington's army through the bitter winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, he said.
A cord of wood four feet high and four feet wide is eight feet long, he noted, which would mean that if all of the cords were stacked end to end, the line would extend 15 miles.
Even at that, the army, about 10,000 men, barely survived in crude log cabins and tents.
Most enlistments expired at Christmas, he said, and it was only a $10 re-enlistment bonus supplied by congress at the extreme urging of General Washington, and Thomas Paine's pamphlet, "Common Sense," that held the army together.
Whaley quoted part of the pamphlet, including its dismissive mention of the "summer soldier and the sunshine patriot."
"It's thanks to people like the Susongs," Whaley said, and the soldiers who endured the winter at Valley Forge and returned to the field in the spring of 1778 to win, that Americans can enjoy the freedoms and way of life that we do, he said.
Whaley added, "It's especially appropriate during veterans week that we honor them."
After a musket volley fired in the Susongs' honor, representatives of the participating groups came forward to salute or curtsy.
Hannah Randles, 11, of Greeneville, represented the Society of the Descendants of Washington's Army at Valley Forge.
Whaley, who lives in Cleveland, Tenn., represented the Sons of the Revolution.
Ronnie Lail, of Carter County, represented the Tennessee Society, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), which was formed a few years after the Sons of the Revolution (SOR).
Justine Wills, regent of the Nolachuckey chapter, Daughers of the American Revolution, represented that group. Rebecca Bridell, of Kingsport, represented the Long Island chapter, DAR.
Her husband, James Bridell, represented the Kings Mountain chapter, Sons of the American Revolution.
Gary Randles, of Greeneville, represented the Nathanael Greene chapter, Sons of the Revolution.
Savannah, Sawyer and Saxton Beals represented the Rocky Mount Chapter of the Children of the Revolution.
Gary Randles also represented Greene's regiment, Descendants of Valley Forge, and Ron Boshart represented the Watauga Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution.