Local author and historian Donald Shomette said William Chew of Calvert County, who received orders around 1778 to supply provisions during the Revolutionary War, is endemic to many of the patriotic Marylanders who served by working at home and that it is important to honor all of them.
And on Saturday, Chew and his wife, Elizabeth Reynolds, were indeed recognized when the John Hanson Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution marked the grave of the soldier at All Saints Episcopal Church in Sunderland.
“We are very much about documentation and making sure we know what people have done and then once we know we can recognize them, and we realized that we had this patriot in our midst who had not yet been recognized,” said Mollie King, chapter regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s John Hanson chapter. “He has so much history in this area, and a lot of people descended from him, even though they may not realize it. He helped with the war effort, and he was just a stalwart of Calvert County at that time.”
“It is a special recognition for a special person for Mr. Chew,” commissioners’ president Thomas “Tim” Hutchins (R) said. “These are things that we have let slip as far as the revolution goes, and I think it’s important we keep that in the forefront.”
“Thank you so much for honoring my ancestor William Chew, and his wife Elizabeth Reynolds, who is my fourth great-grandfather,” read a message from Carole Ruska of Texas, who is the Daughters of the American Revolution’s only documented descendant of William Chew. “My father [who has] passed was also named William Chew and [was] the 11th generation descendant of John Chew [of Jamestown].”
Chew was born around 1746 and set up roots in Calvert and Anne Arundel counties.
“Chew was a businessman who was a patriot,” said Shomette, who recently published another book, ‘Privateers of the Revolution.’”It was organizationally necessary, but you also had to have the acumen to gather the gear, the food, the cattle. So supplying the army with no money, on credit, was a big deal.”
Chew also served as a First Lieutenant in his cousin Richard Chew’s militia company in Anne Arundel County.
“I think all of the revolutionary patriots were brave,” King said. “They were in the view of England, were committing treason against the king. The people who were here just looked at it as fighting for their rights. [Chew] was standing up for rights, for his place to speak and be protected from unreasonable taxation, and to have a voice in his government, which had really been denied at that point.”
A special plaque was placed between William and Elizabeth Chew’s grave markers — they died eight days apart in 1801 — in a small copse of trees on the north side of the church’s cemetery that reads in part, “In honor of Revolutionary War Patriot William Chew, agent for purchasing provisions. Marker placed by John Hanson Chapter, NSDAR. 26 October 2019
Bernie Fowler, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by the Daughters of the American Revolution about a decade ago, said the ceremony was a terrific gesture.
“I think it’s an excellent move on the part of the Daughters of the American Revolution because the country’s changed, so it’s important to remember those who helped set the foundation,” said Fowler, a former state senator and county commissioner. “This country was blessed by having the founders that we have and to pronounce our values and set us straight. The fact [they are] trying to help keep this alive is very important.”