Fox Valley Chapter Patriot Profile

 

Private Abner Powers 1760 - 1852

This page contains information on Abner Powers, one of the soldiers who fought in the American Revolution and who are buried in the counties served by the Fox Valley Chapter. This page contains his biography and photographs of his grave. Abner Powers was at Valley Forge with George Washington's army. He fought in several famous battles: Bennington, Saratoga and the final battle, Yorktown. Abner Powers lived to be almost 92 years old and is buried in the Lily Lake cemetery in Lily Lake, Kane county, Illinois.

 

Biography of Patriot Abner Powers

Abner Powers was born in Springfield, Addison County, Vermont on December 15, 1760, the 10th of 11 children and the 6th of 7 sons born to Nathaniel and Hannah (Hartwell) Powers.

In 1776, while still a boy of 15, Abner enlisted as a drummer boy with the 1st New Hampshire Regiment, and served in this capacity for two years. While serving as a drummer, Abner was present at the Battle of Bennington, the Battle of Saratoga, and shivered through the long, cold, miserable winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

In 1778, at the close of his two year enlistment as a drummer boy, Abner, now almost 18 years old, enlisted with three of his brothers as a soldier in the Regiment of Colonel (later general) John Stark. It was at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777, where Stark became famous for the words "Weíll defeat the British here today, or Molly Stark will be a widow."

Although it appears the Powersí family descendants believed Abner and all six of his brothers served in the Revolutionary war, the Daughters of the American Revolutionís Patriot Index of 2003 does not list all of Abnerís brothers. However, this does not mean they did not serve; it is possible no one has applied to the SAR or DAR for membership naming any of Abnerís brothers.

Abner Powers served as a private and as a corporal, and was present during the Battle of Yorktown, where the combined American and French forces numbering close to 20,000 defeated the 8,900 British troops under Lt. General Charles Cornwallis and the American pursuit for Independence was secured. At the end of the war Abner Powers received a gratuity bounty of 15 Continental Dollars.

Abner Powers married Sabra Porter on October 12, 1784 at Fort #4 in Charlestown, New Hampshire.

In 1800 he and his wife and son Manly Powers (born 1789 in New Hampshire) went to the province of Quebec Canada (purportedly on snow shoes) and lived there until the War of 1812, when they returned to Fernando County, New York, undoubtedly due to the Canadians being allied with the British. The family remained in New York a few years, and then moved to Ontario Canada.

On June 20, 1832 Abner Powers had traveled to the Orleans district of Vermont and applied for a pension. At this time he was listed as 71 years old and a resident of Eaton in Sherbrook County in the Province of Lower Canada. For reasons unknown at this time, this pension application (#R8049) was rejected.

Abner Powers again applied for a pension on July 5, 1842 in St. Lawrence County, New York. At this time he was listed as a resident of Clark in Upper Canada. This pension application (#R8405) was also rejected.

By 1844 Abner had relocated to Kane County, Illinois and was living with his son Manly, daughter-in-law Roxanna, and grandchildren.

The 1850 Federal Census of Virgil Township, Kane County, Illinois shows Abner Powers listed as 89 years old, born in Vermont, and residing with his son and family.

Abner Powers died in Kane County, Illinois on September 25, 1852 at the age of 91 years, 9 months and 10 days. He was buried at Canada Corners Cemetery in Lily Lake. Abnerís grave was marked with a headstone bearing the date 1776, as well as his name, dates of birth and death, as well as a shield and stars.

Abnerís son Manly, who reportedly had been a soldier in the War of 1812, died in 1863 and was buried next to his father.

By 1901, Abnerís grave had become neglected and rundown. While attending a Knight Templar's funeral at Canada Corners Cemetery, Mr. Lewis M. Gross, superintendent of schools of Sycamore, noticed that the slab was broken in three pieces and scattered across the grass. Investigation of the stone showed the inscription "1776" and a military emblem. The facts of this chance discovery were reported in The Sycamore True Republican newspaper on April 13, 1901.

Investigation of Abner Powers' military history revealed the patriotism of this Hero of the War, and that he served in the battles of Bennington, Saratoga, Valley Forge, and Yorktown, and that one of his descendants, Mrs. Amanda Caldwell of St. Charles, was in possession of his government record of service.

A further article in The Sycamore True Republican newspaper on May 25, 1901 showed that local governments and individuals such as the Kane County Board, the Village of Lily Lake and the Daughters of the American Revolution had become involved in raising money for a fitting monument for Abner Powers' grave.

Eventually, around $1,200 was raised (equal to $24,000 in the year 2000) for the purchase of a new monument. Some records found show the Kane County Board contributed $200, the DAR donated $25, and an additional $475 was raised for a total of $700. Granite from Abner's home state of Vermont was quarried and shipped to Lily Lake in six-foot lengths, two on each train flat car. The Great Western train stopped on the tracks at a point nearest the cemetery to unload the granite.

The foundation for the monument was constructed, and a sheet of lead was placed over it, with the base of the granite column in turn placed on top of the lead. Then, each of the tapering six foot lengths were added in the same manner, separated by sheets of lead until the obelisk reached a height of 30 feet.

Preparations were made for a dedication ceremony to be held on July 4, 1902, 50 years after Abner Powers died.

Special trains were run into Lily Lake from all directions. The members of the Aurora G.A.R. Post 20, along with their Military Band, three companies of militia, many veterans of the Civil War and numerous private citizens attended the dedication. A procession was formed about a mile from the monument, and all participants then marched to site of the ceremony in a July 4th celebration unmatched at that time.

Newspaper accounts of the dedication and a description from the 1904 edition of Kane County History states that more than 30,000 people attended the ceremony.

At the dedication, 8-year old Gladys Lillibridge, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.P. Lillibridge, and a third great-granddaughter of Abner Powers, placed flowers at the monument and then pulled the cord which drew away the large American flag that draped the shaft.

Abner Powers' 30-foot Vermont granite obelisk still stands today in the little cemetery in Lily Lake, 102 years after its dedication, and is visible for a mile in any direction on the flat, northern plains of Illinois.

It serves as testimony to a time when people valued love of country and patriotism, and were willing to give of themselves and their limited funds to do proper honor and tribute to a man who contributed a small part to their freedom in an independent United States of America.

Sources:
1) Elgin Genealogical Society Newsletter, Volume 17, Number 4, December 1992, containing reprints of:
The Sycamore True Republican newspaper article, April 13, 1901
The Sycamore True Republican newspaper article, May 25, 1901
2) Kane County Chronicle, Volume 10, Number 3, Jul-Sep 1989, containing reprint of article:
Drummer Boyís Story Hewn in Granite by Beacon News Staff Writer Marjorie Holbrook
3) Index to Revolutionary War Service Records, Virgil D. White, page 2,169
4) Graves of Revolutionary Patriots, Patricia Law Hatcher, Volume 3, page 186
5) Abstract of Revolutionary War Pension Files, page 2,747
6) Daughters of the American Revolution Patriot Index, Volume III, Page 2,163
7) History of Kane County, Illinois, R. Waite Joslyn & Frank W. Joslyn, Pioneer Publishing Co., Chicago, 1908
8) www.patriotparty.us
9) Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Illinois, pages 189 & 190, Illinois Genealogical Society, 1975
10) 1850 Federal Census, Illinois, Kane County, Virgil Township, page 88
11) Aurora Daily Beacon newspaper, July 3, 1902
12) Aurora Daily Beacon newspaper, July 5, 1902
13) Genealogical data/Family History provided by Fred Gleason and David Powers, both descendants of Abner Powers.
14) Consumer Price Index (CPI) Conversion Factors, John J. McCusker

 

Photos from Lily Lake Cemetery in Kane County Illinois

Abner Powers lived to be almost 92 years old and is buried in the Lily Lake Cemetery in Lily Lake, Illinois in Kane County. Click for MapQuest map to cemetery. Click on thumbnail below and enlarged photo will autoclose in 15 seconds.

 
Photo of Lilly Lake Cemetery View of Lilly Lake Cemetery from Illinois Highway 47. The Abner Powers Obelisk dominates the small cemetery. Photo of Abner Powers Obelisk This photo shows Abner Powers grave on the left, the grave of his son, Manly Powars, and daughter in law, Roxana Powars, in the center and the magnificient obelisk erected in 1902 on the 50th anniversary of his death.
Photo of Abner Powers Obelisk and Grave The inscription to Abner Powers lists the famous battles he fought in. He died at age 92. Photo of Abner Powers Grave Abner Powers original grave stone was replaced because it had broken into 3 pieces.