Engraved Stone Will Be Provided By J.W. Reynolds

March 04, 2004 12:00 am

Among the veterans of the American Revolution who are buried in Southern Illinois is Thomas Posey, who served as aide-de-camp to Gen. George Washington and later was governor of the Indiana Territory.

Arthur L. Casebeer of Carbondale, president of the Long Knives Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, was kind enough to provide biographical details of Posey's life and notes on a project to restore his gravesite in New Shawneetown.

Posey was born on July 9, 1750, in Fairfax County, Va.

He entered the U.S. Army as a captain in 1776 and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel by the end of the war, enjoying a distinguished military career.

After the war was over in 1783, Posey married and settled in Spotsylvania County, Va., where he served as magistrate and where the Virginia governor put him in command of the county militia.

In 1793, he was appointed brigadier general in the Legion of the United States.

Posey's next move was to Kentucky, where he served four years as lieutenantgovernor and speaker of the Senate, and was appointed major general in charge of the state's militia quota of 5,000.

In 1810, Maj. Gen. Posey turned his attention to the Orleans Territory and purchased property in the Atchafalaya region. When Louisiana became a state in 1812, he was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of a senator.

In 1813, Posey was named governor and commander-in-chief of the Indiana Territory. He served until 1816, when the state of Indiana was admitted to the Union, and then continued as Indian Agent, in which position, according to a biography of the time, he was "honored, respected and beloved by all the tribes of Indians within his agency, until his death."

En route to a visit to the Shawneetown home of Joseph M. Street, who had married his daughter, Posey, then 67, contracted a cold while descending the Wabash River. The cold progressed into typhus fever, and after a short illness, he died on March 19, 1818.

Posey was buried in the family orchard, which later became Westwood Cemetery in New Shawneetown, where a memorial vault was erected in his honor.

However, according to Casebeer, the gravesite had deteriorated over the years and the vault has been restored at a cost of some $5,000 by the Westwood Cemetery Association, in association with the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution.

To complete the project, an engraved stone will be provided at cost by the J.W. Reynolds Monument Co. and approved by the Westwood Cemetery Association.

The stone will enumerate some of Maj. Gen. Posey's accomplishments not noted on the original vault. In addition, a commemorative brochure will be printed, preserving the writings on the monument and giving a biographical sketch of Posey.

The Long Knives Chapter of the SAR is attempting to raise funds for completing the restoration project. Casebeer said it is hoped the gravesite can be rededicated this October, "to commemorate the surrender of Lord Cornwallis to Gen. George Washington, as Thomas Posey was present as aide-de-camp to Washington."

More information on the project may be obtained by writing to Arthur L. Casebeer, 45 Yonder Hill Drive, Carbondale, IL 62903-8244.

BEN GELMAN is the former Sunday news editor for The Southern Illinoisan and is an avid bird watcher.