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Year-long Eagle Scout project helps reclaim historic grave

Submitted by Sylvia Musgrove • Updated Nov 14, 2019 at 1:31 PM

A commemoration of the life of Revolutionary War patriot John Carmack and a dedication of the recently restored Carmack Family Cemetery was held Oct. 26 at The Reserve, a private community located in Bristol.

The cemetery, situated in a heavily wooded area off Kings Mill Pike, has been reclaimed and refurbished as part of an Eagle Scout service project undertaken by 16-year-old Tennessee High School junior Andrew Steward, who is a member of BSA Troop 8 in Bristol, Virginia.

The year-long project involved historic research and significant tree and debris removal. Reserve staff members Tammi Berry and Denise Dickenson worked with Washington County Historical Society member Charlie Barnett on gravesite identification and additional cemetery restoration. A flagpole, fence, information boxes and landscaping elements were also added to honor the site, which contains 15 known graves, including Carmack’s.

“This project has helped me better understand the history of this area and has inspired me to be active in my community,” Steward said. “I now have a greater appreciation for the importance of preserving our history and the efforts required to ensure that it is upheld. I am honored to have been able to participate in the restoration of the Carmack cemetery.”

A local frontiersman of Scottish descent who was a resident of what is now Bristol, Virginia, Carmack served in the Continental Army from 1778 to 1779 under General Lachlan McIntosh. He was also a member of the Overmountain Men, who are best known for their role in the American victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. In addition, Carmack fought and was severely injured in the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 and served as a volunteer soldier following his official war service. He died in 1833 at age 82.

Steward consulted with the Overmountain Victory Trail Association (OVTA) in Abingdon, Virginia, to obtain further information about Carmack for his project. At the ceremony, members of the OVTA led participants in the same prayer that was offered on behalf of the Overmountain Men as they began their journey from Sycamore Shoals, Tennessee, to Kings Mountain, South Carolina.

Carmack’s memory was honored with a flag raising, bagpipe and fife tribute, and black powder musket salute by members of the OVTA.

“We are proud to honor John Carmack, a Revolutionary War patriot,” said Tom Vaughan, member of the OVTA and a descendant of John Carmack’s brother, Cornelius. “He shed sweat, blood and tears in his efforts to help bring freedom to our American colonies. It is up to all of us to uphold his legacy as his story, and that of his compatriots, continues through us as citizens of the United States of America.”

Various local businesses donated materials for the project. Carmack’s grave has been approved for commemoration by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which will place an official Revolutionary War marker at the site in a future ceremony.

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