On Dec. 16, 1773, Watertown’s Samuel Barnard joined the group that took part in one of the key moments leading up to the American Revolution: The Boston Tea Party. He will be honored this month with the placing of a marker at his gravesite commemorating his place in American history.
The ceremony will take place on June 18, 2022, when the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, the Historical Society of Watertown, and Revolution 250 will hold a ceremony at the Common Street Cemetery (next to Watertown High School). The event is free and open to all.
Barnard was born in Watertown on June 18, 1737, and resided in Town his whole life. The blacksmith and farmer also joined the militia that fought the British in the Revolutionary War.
He married Elizabeth (Bond) on March 4, 1773 and they had five children. Barnard died in 1782 and was buried at the cemetery at the corner of Common and Mt. Auburn Streets. His headstone remains there, said Joyce Kelly, a member of the Historical Society of Watertown.
“You can see it from the road. You can’t read it from the road, but you can see it,” Kelly said. “He was involved in the Revolutionary War, was involved in the Boston Tea party first, and he led a group of men during the Lexington alarm when they chased the British Soldiers back to Boston (after the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775).”
Later, Barnard joined the group defending Dorchester Heights in March 1776, a key part of ending the British occupation of Boston, according to the Boston Tea Party Museum.
The Historical Society knew of Barnard’s participation in the Tea Party.
“We did know that. We didn’t know that they were putting markers on graves,” Kelly said. “They emailed us and said ‘Hey, we’d like to do this.’ And we said we are too, and we will do what we have to to make it happen.”
City officials helped to make the ceremony for Barnard and the marker a reality.
“(Acting Deputy City Manager) Steve Magoon was fine with it, then we had to speak with Bob Dirico, the (Department of Public Works’) cemetery director, and he said he would help with anything we needed,” Kelly said.
The marker is not an invasive one, Kelly said. It is 18 inches tall and will go into the ground near the grave stone. According to the Tea Party Museum, the image depicted on the commemorative marker is inspired by Nathaniel Currier’s The Destruction of the Tea at Boston Harbor lithograph created in 1846. The marker will be on display indefinitely.
To date, 89 commemorative markers have been placed at graves of known Boston Tea Party
participants, the Museum’s announcement said. The markers have been placed in some of Massachusetts’ oldest burying grounds in Boston, on the North and South Shores of Boston, and throughout the Bay State.
The 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party will take place on Dec. 16, 2023. The Museum hopes to place markers at all 125 known Boston Tea Party participants around New England and across the United States.
Barnard is one of three known Boston Tea Party participants from Watertown, Kelly said. The two others were Phineas Stearns and John Randall, according to the book Crossroads on the Charles, which chronicles early Watertown’s history, and also a book of early residents of Watertown, Bond’s Genealogies.
Markers would be placed on the graves of Stearns and Randall, but there is one challenge, Kelly said.
“We don’t know where those two are buried,” she said. “We think Stearns is buried in Waltham, but there are a bunch of Phineas Stearns. John Randall, we don’t know where he is either, and neither does the Tea Party.”
Randall also joined the militia and was present during the skirmishes on April 19 when the British were chased back to Boston by the Colonials, Kelly said. Stearns also also took part in these skirmishes and was a lieutenant in the militia at the time. He also served at Dorchester Heights.
Two others from Watertown, Samual and Joseph Coolidge, may have taken part, but their names were not linked to the event in the Watertown history books, Kelly said. Joseph was killed on April 19, 1775 during the skirmishes with the British and he is buried at the Old Burying Place at the corner of Arlington and Mt. Auburn streets in East Watertown. Samual’s burial site is unknown, according to the Tea Party Museum.
The ceremony for Barnard will take place on Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. At the ceremony, Historical Society of Watertown President Marilynne Roach will give a welcoming statement, followed by remarks by Evan O’Brien, Creative Manager of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, and from Jonathan Lane, Revolution 250 Coordinator from the Massachusetts Historical Society. Then the marker is placed by one of the costumed reenactors.
More information about programming and a major reenactment celebration can be found at will www.BostonTeaParty250.com.
The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is located at 306 Congress St. (on the Congress Street Bridge) in Boston. It sits over the same body of water where The Boston Tea Party took place.