Deacon Jonathan Hosmer was born March 29, 1712 and died June 25, 1775. He served the town of Acton from its founding in 1735, becoming a selectman in 1743 and town clerk in 1744, serving in both capacities through 1755, and again 1758-1761. He also served as Deacon in the town's church. Records cited by Charles Husbands' History of the Acton Minutemen and Militia Companies (page 109) show that Deacon Jonathan served in the "Acton Alarm Company" in 1757. He would have been sixty-three when the Revolution started in April, 1775. He probably would have been exempt from militia duty by that point, but it could be possible that he served at some point in the two months before his death. The problem is that there is no evidence that he did. Noting that full records do not exist of all who served militarily in the spring of 1775, we can say that no Acton Jonathan Hosmer is mentioned in existing lists of soldiers who marched to Concord or of those who served at Bunker Hill. The compilation of service in Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War (volume 8, page 289) noted no known service by a Jonathan Hosmer before 1776. All applications for membership in the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution that we have seen have cited the military service of Deacon Jonathan’s sons, not his own service. None of the later lists of Revolutionary War veterans in Acton town histories included “Deacon” Jonathan Hosmer or implied that he was the Jonathan Hosmer they referred to.
Fletcher’s Acton in History, page 270, relates a story about Deacon Jonathan on April 19, 1775. His granddaughter Sarah, whose Uncle Abner had marched to Concord from the family farm that morning, remembered that her grandfather “went out to see if he could hear any news on that day, and when he returned he groaned when he passed their window to go into the front door. What sorrow was then experienced!” Clearly, Deacon Jonathan was not at the Battle of Concord but instead had to suffer the agony of waiting and learning of the loss of his son Abner. He also would have learned that another from his household had been wounded that day, Luther Blanchard who had been living on his farm while learning the mason’s trade. We can assume that the last two months of Deacon Hosmer’s life must have been filled with grief and concern for his family and townsfolk, but we have found no proof or even implication that he was in the army at the time.
So why is there an SAR marker on Deacon Jonathan Hosmer’s grave? Unfortunately, it is impossible to know where the marker was originally placed. We know that markers were placed for Jonathan Hosmer and Jonathan Jr. in April, 1895. (See a discussion and listing of Acton's SAR markers.) We also know that in the mid-1990s when the Revolutionary War-era stones were photographed for the town of Acton, the SAR marker was not directly in front of Deacon Jonathan’s stone. A recent visit to Woodlawn Cemetery revealed that since the Find-A-Grave photos were taken, the SAR marker had been moved to the left side of the stone and then fallen down. Unfortunately, markers are not a perfect indication of war service; even if they were originally placed in the correct location, winter upheavals, maintenance, and even well-meaning “corrections” can move them. The same visit to Woodlawn Cemetery showed that there is currently no SAR marker for the Acton Jonathan Hosmer whose Revolutionary War service is actually mentioned on his gravestone. It is highly likely that the marker originally meant for his gravestone was mistakenly placed on his grandfather’s grave at some point. Research into the military service of Acton's other Jonathan Hosmers will be discussed in a future blog post.