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Revolutionary War hero give new resting place

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POSTED: October 25, 2010 8:39 a.m.
BRUNSWICK (AP) — Few people have three funerals, but American Revolutionary War hero Lt. Col. John McIntosh had his third on Saturday, said Missy Brandt, chairwoman of the McIntosh County Historic Preservation Commission.
A ceremony to re-inter McIntosh, along with others believed to be his granddaughters, was held at Mallow Plantation Historic Site in Eulonia in McIntosh County.
McIntosh earned a place in history after telling British Lt. Col. Lewis Fuser on Nov. 25, 1778, to “Come and take it” when Fuser told McIntosh to surrender Fort Morris at Sunbury during the Revolutionary War.
The British withdrew from the show of arms in the face of McIntosh’s bold, yet out-manned, resistance and McIntosh was hailed a hero.
Brandt said the need for reburial came in 2006 after an 1850s-style “Fisk” cast iron casket was found in the marsh adjacent to a bluff where 1800s-era burial records indicated the colonel was interred. The earth in the bluff where the casket was previously precariously positioned was washed away by the ebb and flow of the Sapelo River, loosening the casket from the soil, she said.
The casket has been kept at the Darien Funeral Home since it was found in 2006 and has not been opened for fear of exposing the remains to air and moisture, which could destroy them, Brandt said.
McIntosh is believed to be in the iron casket because records show him to be the only male buried on the bluff in the vicinity to the old plantation cemetery, Brandt said. There were a number of women buried there, but a piece of male clothing was found sticking out of the casket when it was recovered from the marsh, she said.
There could be some question as to whether the remains inside the iron casket are actually McIntosh. Fisk cast iron caskets weren’t invented until 1848, but McIntosh died in 1826.
“That has been the big mystery of this all. ... How did a 1826 death end up in a 1850s casket?” Brandt said.
Since male clothes were found hanging out of the casket and only one male was buried there, records show, Brandt said, McIntosh is likely inside. As to how he got into a casket made some 25 years after his death, she cited the same force that pulled him out of his resting place in Pine Harbor in 2006 — the Sapelo River.
“In the 1850s we had six major hurricanes that passed by here. During the dig we’ve found that the graves were only buried about 3 or 4 feet deep originally, so we’ve got two things: shallow graves and lots of water,” she said.
If McIntosh’s casket was unearthed during the storms of the 1850s, it’s likely his family would have reburied him in a top-of-the- line casket.
“He was very famous. He was part of a very affluent family and he won respect of many around here,” Brandt said.
The preservation commission has based all its research on old newspaper clippings, historic burial records and records kept by descendants of the McIntosh family.
Finding the remains of McIntosh’s granddaughters has been the job of Matthew Williamson, associate professor of biological anthropology at Georgia Southern University. Along with a handful of graduate students from the university, Williamson conducted a two-day dig in Eulonia at the request of the preservation commission.
Williamson found the sites where two people were buried but the remains of only one.
The only recognizable remains he unearthed Monday and Tuesday belonged to a young person. The remains in two other graves uncovered had completely deteriorated.
Williamson said his first priority was preserving and studying what he found. Hard and true identification was second.
He said he won’t know who is actually buried at the site until he takes the remains to his Statesboro lab.
“We’re trying to preserve as much as we can before all this could be routed out,” he said.
The three granddaughters are Catherine McIntosh, Mazie McIntosh and Maria McIntosh.
Maryann and D.L. McIntosh, indirect descendants of Lt. Col. John McIntosh, said people in McIntosh County are abuzz about the reburial of a Revolutionary War Hero.

 

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