John Emerson, Ordinary Patriot
By Mark Wright
John Emerson was no one remarkable. A resident of Worcester County, Massachusetts, Emerson stood 5-foot-10, had gray hair and was about 54 years old in the summer of 1776.
America declared its independence on the fourth (or perhaps, more correctly the third) and on the ninth, Emerson enlisted for nine months of service in the 3rd Worcester County Regiment with a rank of captain.
John Emerson the officer was no one remarkable. I have no idea if Emerson fought in any battles, though there is some evidence to suggest troops who trained under him went on to fight in the Battle of Saratoga. But I do know that he served. And if, like me, you celebrate America's Independence on the Fourth of July, then you consider Emerson a Patriot.
Emerson is my sixth great-grandfather. I descend from him through my paternal grandmother, who was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is a great honor to say that I, an unremarkable person, come from a Patriot with deep roots in the American colonies. The Emersons were indeed a remarkable family.
Emerson's great-grandfather was an English-born Puritan minister, Joseph Emerson, who arrived in Concord, Massachsetts Bay Colony, as a young adult. I descend from the reverend and his first wife. Famous American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson descends from the reverend and his second wife.
John Emerson's younger brother Ezekiel Emerson graduated from Princeton and sat on the board of trustees for Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine.
Compared to the reverend, the essayist and his own brother the college board trustee, John Emerson was no one remarkable. But in a crucial moment in the founding of a nation, my direct ancestor answered the call to serve.
Even if John Emerson was an otherwise ordinary man, the time in which he lived demanded extraordinary courage. On this July Fourth, I would like to take a moment to honor my Patriot ancestor. John Emerson was someone remarkable.