By Shel Segal
In honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, Savannah Memorial Cemetery held a wreath-laying ceremony on Wednesday for two veterans of the conflic.
Descendants of one of the men looked on as ceremonies were conducted at the historic cemetery at the juncture of Rosmeead and El Monte.
Anne Scholz, president of Joel Brigham Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of 1812, said activities like this are beginning to happen across the Golden State as veterans John Holt and Wiley Wilson were honored.
“This is the bicentennial of the War of 1812, so we are locating patriots of the war who are buried in California,” Scholz said. “We have discovered these two gentlemen who are buried in Savannah Memorial Cemetery. We are having a rededication ceremony for these two gentlemen.”
Scholz said, however, there are not that many known veterans buried here in California.
“To date we have 12,” she said. “That’s not very many, but think about the time they came. They did it by way of land grants, for the most part.”
She added these are veterans who should not be forgotten.
“We have been researching these gentlemen to find some living descendants here in California,” she said. “Fortunately, we have been able to find several from at least one of the families. Everybody has been just so supportive. It is the bicentennial year. They served our country.”
Ventura resident Janet Page Matheny – a descendant of Wilson – was on hand for the ceremony. She said she is very happy to have been able to attend.
“I’m extremely proud of this,” said Matheny, adding Wilson was her third great grandfather. “I’m a descendant of Wiley’s oldest son. He had something like 10 or 12 children. There are a number of us. A few years back in doing my family history I made contact with a distant cousin in Tennessee. She indicated to me our family was buried here.”
As she grew up in Rosemead, she said she never visited Wilson’s gravesite as she didn’t even know about the cemetery.
“I could have walked here, but I never knew about this,” she said.
Matheny added she is thrilled to know about her relative’s military service.
“To find he served in the War of 1812, that’s just incredible,” she said. “I’m just blown away that as a young man he served. He lost his father very young and had a widowed mother. That was a big sacrifice.”