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Patriot resting places on tour as Shelter Island DAR commemorates July 4

In observance of Independence Day, the Shelter Island chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is offering a Patriot Cemetery Tour on Monday, July 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church Colonial Burying Ground.

Honorary Regent Joyce Bowditch-Bausman and Chapter Historian Karen Kiaer will distribute handouts for the self-guided tour with headstone images as well as photos of the patriots’ respective historic houses, including present-day addresses. 

The Shelter Island DAR chapter has always worked to preserve the resting places of Islanders who were part of creating the United States. Part of that work is to keep their memories alive through physical markers to inspire and enlighten future generations.

Seven years ago, the chapter completed a “burying ground project at the Presbyterian Church’s cemetery,” Ms. Kiaer said in a recent Reporter interview. “The project included preserving and repairing nine patriot headstones and tabletops. Three Islanders served in Washington’s first Provincial Congress. And, to my knowledge, we have the only Long Island tabletop for a woman, Mary Watts Nicoll Havens.”

“America250,” a nationwide commemoration of America’s 250th anniversary coming up in 2026, is part of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which in partnership with the National DAR has developed a program to: “Engage youth through contests and educational programming, and support efforts to better tell the story of underrepresented and diverse patriots who helped to win the American War of Independence.”

The Long Island chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, along with conservator and historian Zachary Studenroth, are now trying to identify all Long Island Patriots, which Ms. Kiaer estimates at about 1,000 individuals.

“There are over 500 private family historic burying grounds on Long Island, and then there are all the municipal town historic cemeteries,” she said.

Ms. Kiaer and Ms. Bowditch-Bausman — who claims more than 100 headstones on Shelter Island related to her family — have been actively engaging with Long Island communities to further these efforts.