Story by Bruce J. Huffman
Michigan National Guard
Pinckney, Mich.— The graves of father and son Claudius Britton II and III, who both fought in Early-American wars and died in Michigan, were marked and dedicated at the Pinckney Cemetery Aug. 8 during a well-attended ceremony in their honor.
Claudius Britton II enlisted in the militia in 1777 at the age of 16 and served as a scout with Vermont’s Green Mountain Continental Rangers in the Revolutionary War. He was captured by the British in 1778 and imprisoned in a Quebec dungeon until 1783. The son, Claudius Britton III, briefly fought for the Vermont militia during the War of 1812, sometimes referred to as the “Second War of Independence”, because it was the first large scale test of the American republic since the Revolutionary War.
In 1824 the Brittons moved to the mid-Michigan area and established a family farm in what is now Ann Arbor. According to Elijah Shalis, First Vice President, Huron Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, when Britton II applied for his war pension, John Allen, one of the co-founders of Ann Arbor, vouched for his character on the document. Unfortunately his pension was denied because of the time he spent as a British prisoner of war. According to VA records, at most only 3,000 Revolutionary War veterans ever drew any pension, because the Continental Congress did not have the money to make pension payments. This obligation was carried out in varying degrees by the states. Michigan was not officially admitted to the union until 1837.
The Brittons later moved to Pinckney in 1836 where they spent the rest of their days. The father died in 1850, and Claudius Britton III died one year later, finding their final resting places side-by-side in Pinckney Cemetery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “It is important that we recognize people for their service, especially these two wars,” said Shalis.
Bronze emblems were installed to mark the graves, the headstones were repaired, and military honors were provided by the Sons of the American Revolution, the Michigan Society of the War of 1812, and the American Legion Post 419 in Pinckney. Guest speakers at the event were, State Representative Ann Bollin from Brighton Twp., Michigan National Guard Army Command Sergeant Major Catherine A. Farrell, Village of Pinckney President Linda Lavey, and a representative from State of Michigan Senator Lana Theis’s office.
“Just as it was for the Brittons in 1824, Michigan is still a great place for veterans to settle, work and raise a family,” said CSM Farrell. “The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and Veterans Homes serve as the central coordinating point for all veterans in Michigan. We’re committed to connecting all veterans and their families to the programs, initiatives and benefits they deserve,” she said.
The oldest component of America’s armed forces, the National Guard was etched from the Early-American militias responsible for protecting the English colonies. “Today we honor two of our own,” said Farrell. “The Michigan National Guard considers all veterans and their families ‘Members for Life’, at every stage of their service. It begins the moment they put on the uniform, and lasts a lifetime.”