The Middletown Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has begun its quest to identify and mark the graves of all the American Revolutionary War Patriots in Monmouth County. The chapter will identify those stones or markers that are missing or damaged beyond repair and obtain replacements, leaving the original relic in place. A team of volunteers and members of the DAR will repair fallen or broken stones and clean others, then hold ceremonies to acknowledge and honor these patriots.
The first new grave marker dedication ceremony in Holmdel was held on Oct. 15 at Holmdel Cemetery to honor Captain John Schanck and Sergeant George Taylor.
Captain John Schanck served in the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1782. In 1775, he was appointed 1st Lieutenant of the Monmouth Militia in Captain Thomas Hunn’s company under Colonel Nathaniel Scudder. In the fall of 1777, before the Battle of Germantown, he received a commission as Captain in the New Jersey Troops and served under Colonel Asher Holmes. At the Battle of Monmouth, he commanded his company and also acted as guide to the American Horse commanded by Colonel Mylan. Most of his service was in Monmouth County, guarding the coast. His company was present at the capture of the British brig Britannia near Sandy Hook.
His ancestors were among the first settlers of New Amsterdam (present-day New York), dating as far back as 1625. His grandparents, Garret Roelofse Schenck and Neeltje Coertse Van Voorhees, moved from Flatlands, New York (present-day Brooklyn) to Pleasant Valley, New Jersey in 1696, and the family continued to live in the area for many generations.
Captain Schanck was born at Pleasant Valley on Aug. 28, 1745 and baptized at the Old Brick Reformed Church in Marlboro. John was a fuller (cleansing of cloth to eliminate oil and dirt), tanner, cordwainer (leather shoe maker), farmer and sawmill operator. He died on his 89th birthday and was buried at the Schenck-Couwenhoven Cemetery in Holmdel and was reinterred at Holmdel Cemetery in the late 1800s.
The inscription from John Schanck’s headstone as recorded in 1910 read, “He was an officer in the militia of his native county, in the war of the revolution, and a devoted friend to his country. When offered a large sum of money if he would espouse the royal cause, he rejected it, saying, ‘The whole of Europe could not buy him.’ The offer of 50 guineas for his head, his readiness to join the army, the part he bore in the skirmishes at Monaskong, and near his own dwelling; and the capture of a company of the enemy at the Highlands, bear testimony to his courage, energy and patriotism.”
His wife, Mary Denise, is buried beside him. She was the daughter of Teunis Denise and Francinke Hendrickson. Mary was born July 9, 1740 and also baptized at the Old Brick Reformed Church. Mary and John were married on July 30, 1767. Together, they had 14 children. She died July 15, 1829.
A detailed newspaper account from February 1782 recounts a group of 40 British refugees coming to Pleasant Valley from Sandy Hook and raiding the homes of many, stealing 20 horses and four sleighs loaded with plunder and taking several men prisoners. Captain Schanck quickly called on the militia to fight back, and a skirmish ensued in which Captain Schanck’s team recovered all the plunder and took many prisoners.
The widow of John Schanck’s grandson Daniel, Mary Ann Smock Schanck, and her four children donated the triangle of land for the Monmouth Battle Monument in Freehold.
George Taylor enlisted in the Monmouth Militia on June 1, 1776 and was later a sergeant in the NJ Troops, serving from 1776 through 1782 under so many familiar names such as Asher Holmes and John Schenck. He spent much of his time guarding the shores. Taylor fought in several skirmishes with the British including the capture of the Britannia and also fought in the Battle of Germantown. He faced multiple threats on his life, and he left detailed accounts of regiment activities and men with whom he served in his pension files.
George Taylor was born March 2, 1756 in Middletown Township, in what would likely be present day Holmdel or Matawan, and moved to Freehold after the war. He died there on Feb. 5, 1836.
DAR will continue their work to honor these patriots into 2023. If you would like to help clean local burial grounds or can prove you are descended from a Revolutionary War Patriot and interested in joining the DAR, email email@example.com for more information.