DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — Artist Bob Timberlake walks up to a 124-year-old monument in a cemetery in Davidson County and places an American flag next to it.
His granddaughter, Evanne Timberlake, is next to him and plants one, too.
The graves here – two of them in particular – are special to the Timberlake family.
“I’m related to just about everyone in the county,” Timberlake said.
But Valentine Leonhardt has a special place in his heart.
Leonhardt was born in Katzenbach, Germany, in 1718 and later emigrated to the US.
Leonhardt – or Leonard as the name became Americanized – was part of General Nathanael Greene’s troops that fought at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March of 1781: one of the most important battles of the war as the soldiers did enough damage to force Lord Cornwallis’ army to limp into Yorktown where they would later surrender.
Leonard and one of his closest friends, Woolridge Fritz, who had a farm near Leonard and fought with him at Guilford Courthouse both went home and restarted their lives until something terrible happened.
And, now, generations later, Bob Timberlake wants to make sure his family remembers Leonard, who was his 8-times great grandfather.
And it just so happens that Woolridge Fritz is the 8-times great grandfather of Bob’s wife, Kay.
“We’d been married twenty years when we figured it out, and it dawned on us that this was really something special,” Bob said.
That makes their children and grandchildren, like Evanne, the place where those family trees eventually met. Bob wants Evanne and her cousins to remember that.
“He knows what he had for breakfast 70 years ago, and it’s helped me learn how to appreciate our history,” Evanne said.
“History is an amazing thing, and we need to pay attention to it,” Bob said. “The Fourth of July is something special.”
See what terrible thing happened to Leonard and Fritz in the months after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in this edition of the Buckley Report.