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Aurora celebrates soldier who fought in American revolution
By Justin Kmitch | Daily Herald Staff

Members of the Illinois Sons of the American Revolution color guard march into the cemetery for the dedication of new grave markers for Revolutionary War soldier Israel Warner who is buried in the Big Woods cemetery in Aurora along with some of his descendants.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

Revolutionary War soldier Israel Warner's great-great-great-great granddaughter Rebecca Hougher of Vermont and her son Zeb Buckley lay a wreath at Warner's gravesite in the Big Woods cemetery in Aurora.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

Phyllis Preston, in front, from Naperville, along with other members of the River Valley Colonial Fifes and Drums, play Revolutionary War songs prior to the dedication of new grave markers for Revolutionary War soldier Israel Warner who is buried in the Big Woods cemetery in Aurora.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/1/2008 12:08 AM | Updated: 6/1/2008 12:15 AM

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Throughout his life, Revolutionary War veteran Israel Warner was celebrated as one of the country's great patriots.

But it's safe to say he was never honored during his lifetime like he was Saturday afternoon -- exactly 240 years after his birth -- at Big Woods Cemetery in Aurora.

More than 300 descendants, citizens, history buffs and Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactors gathered behind Big Woods Congregational Church to witness the restoration of Warner's original tombstone and the unveiling of new headstones for Warner and the four family members buried with him.

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When he died, at the age of 93, on Jan. 21, 1862, he may have been one of the last war veterans to die, genealogical experts surmise.

Local history buffs Jan and Steve Kusar of Warrenville learned of Warner's local ties about a year ago when his grave was discovered.

"This is a major piece of our country and our military's history right here in our backyard," Steve Kusar said.

Saturday's ceremony was orchestrated by members of local historical and civic groups who joined together to form the Israel Warner Commemorative Committee.

A commemorative bronze plaque, celebrating Warner's life has been installed along a bike path near the church entrance.

"This was a due and fitting tribute, and I truly am thankful to see how many people came out to participate," Rebecca Hougher, Warner's great-great-great-great granddaughter, said after being presented with the Green Mountain Boys Regimental Flag. "We're truly thankful for the effort everyone has put into making this possible."

For years, Hougher said, she has sought Warner's final resting place so she could replace his headstone.

Unable to find it, she reached out to the Fort Payne chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who in turn enlisted the Fox Valley chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Don Parrish, former president of the Fox Valley SAR, found Warner's gravestone -- broken and nearly unreadable -- on June 20, 2007.

Buried on the same site with Warner were his daughter, Esther; her husband, Daniel Kenyon; and their sons, Israel Warner Kenyon and William Jeptha Kenyon.

Both grandsons served in the 13th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. William was killed in the war and Israel died after being discharged for wounds he had suffered, according to the Fox Valley SAR Web site.

The cost for the new markers for Warner family members is about $8,000. Anyone wishing to contribute may send donations to: Big Woods Church, Attn: Israel Warner, 3003 Eola Road, Aurora, IL 60502.