Group honors once 'forgotten' Revolutionary War soldiers from New Milford

NEW MILFORD — Prayers were shared and smiles were bright as members of the Roger Sherman Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, local dignitaries and invited guests gathered Sunday to dedicate grave markers for two soldiers who served during the Revolutionary War.

The ceremony at Center Cemetery honored Pvt. Samuel Phillips and Pvt. Jeruel Phillips, two African-American soldiers from New Milford.

“To see the outpouring of community support,” said Denise Doring VanBuren, president general of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. “This does my heart good.”

“I’m humbled to think what the founding members of (DAR) would think if they could see this,” Doring VanBuren said, noting this is the 130th anniversary of the lineage-based membership service organization for women who are directly descended from a person involved in the Revolutionary War.

In addition to honoring Jeruel Phillips and Samuel Phillips, the ceremony recognized Jeruel’s two brothers, Reuben and Shubel Phillips, who also served in the war.

“We’re here to honor the memory and spirit of these men,” Doring VanBuren said. “I cannot imagine a better illustration than those looking back at me.”

DAR members joined William Fothergill, of Hartford, a descendant of the Phillips men, as guests listened closely while social distancing as the history of the men was shared by local genealogist Kathleen Zuris.

State Rep. Bill Buckbee, R-67, presented a a proclamation for the special occasion from the state General Assembly. It was signed by Buckbee, state Rep. Richard Smith of the 108th House District and state Sen. Craig Miner, R-30.

Buckbee shared his appreciation for being part of the occasion, saying the legacy of men like Jeruel and Samuel “tends to be forgotten” and now it isn’t.

“I think it’s outstanding,” he said.

Mayor Pete Bass issued a proclamation each for Jeruel and Samuel.

“I want to thank DAR for keeping history alive,” he said.

Other special ceremony offerings included the placing of the soldier’s accoutrements by Lt. Ross Kenney and the 6th Connecticut Regiment, a musket salute and the dedication of the grave markers.