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Memorial flag returning to grave of Groton man who helped Revere’s midnight ride

By Jessica Reyes
Apr 18, 2018 – 6:56 PM
Fox News 25 Boston

GROTON, Mass. – It was 243 years ago when Revere set off to warn Massachusetts residents the British were coming.

According to the Paul Revere Memorial Association, 10 p.m. was when the regulars were first spotted gathering on Boston Common.

About 30 minutes later, Revere was given orders to ride through the countryside spreading the news. He set off from his North End home to cross the Charles River on his way to Lexington.

But Paul Revere was not on his own that night.

At Groton’s Old Burying Ground, you’ll find several Revolutionary War heroes, including one you may not be as familiar with: Joshua Bentley. But he had a pretty important role.

Bentley was one of two people who helped row Paul Revere across the Charles before his midnight ride.

“They got women’s petticoats to wrap around the oar locks as they rowed past the British ships, because they didn’t want the creaking oars to alert the sentries on board,” the Groton Old Burying Ground Commissioner Elea

She says there was a Sons of American Revolution flag marker marking the spot where Bentley was buried, but it disappeared nearly a century ago.

“I attribute it being gone 75-100 years,” she said. “Mainly because of the condition of the marker.”

But last year, it turned up in a completely unexpected place, at an antique store in Mesa, Arizona. A member of the Michigan Sons of the Revolutionary War was out there with his wife when he came across it.

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“One thing I noticed was there was a name tag on it,” John Raya told Boston 25 News by phone. “By the time we got home we figured out it belonged to a Joshua Bentley. Found out it was Joshua Bentley in Groton, Massachusetts — where it came from.”

He called over to the Old Groton Burying Ground where the commissioner immediately knew what he was talking about.

“Right away she said, ‘that’s our marker, we’d like to have it back.’” Raya said. “And I said I intend on bringing it back.”

April 18 has some historical significance as it relates to Paul Revere’s ride. It was on this date 243 years ago when he saw two lanterns burning at the Old North Church and rode for Lexington and Concord.

Gavazzi says she’s thrilled and never thought she’d see the marker again.

“He won’t rest, and why should he, he’s a hero,” she said. “I’ve been talking about him for a long time. I think it’s very exciting.”

And it turns out, Raya will be here in Massachusetts in May to return the flag, where it will take its rightful place above Bentley’s grave.

Special thanks to Spyglass Books LLC for granting us permission to use the Cortney Skinner painting.

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