In 1777, Norman Phelps was just 13 years old when he joined the Connecticut Militia as a musician- fifer. The youth enlisted four times serving as a fifer and drummer with the Connecticut Continental Line before his discharge at age 20 in 1781. In his pension records, he says, “that General George Washington reviewed his company as they marched by.”
At 10 a.m., May 27 Memorial Day the Sashabaw Plains Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be marking the grave of Norman and wife Sarah Phelps at the Ortonville Cemetery.
Joette Kunse, a Sashabaw Plains DAR compiled the Phelps biography. A bronze plaque at the gravesites of Norman and Sarah Phelps will be placed following the remembrance ceremonies. The public is invited to attend.
After the war, Phelps married Sarah Cole and together they had nine children. They left Connecticut for New York and at age 70, Phelps received a pension of $43 per year from the government. He migrated to Michigan to be near his youngest son, Benjamin Phelps.
Norman died in 1840 at the age of 76 years old, one week after his wife, Sarah, died. The Phelps graves are in the Ortonville Cemetery on M-15, which was farmland of Benjamin Phelps. The graves are located on the highest ground of the cemetery near the old maple tree.
Norman Phelps was not the only one of his family to serve in the Revolutionary War. His father, John Phelps Jr., Esquire, gave service to his town during the war, as a member of the committee of inspection, a town agent, selectman and a moderator of town meeting and thus is deemed a Patriot. The oldest Phelps brother, Obediah, was 19 when he entered the Revolutionary War as a artificer, which is a master craftsman in weaponry. Middle brother, Jared was 17 and served with the Connecticut Line as a Fife Major responsible for the training and discipline of the regiment’s fifers.
Much of the information regarding the service of the Phelps family was taken from their pension records by Charlotte Cooper, Sashabaw Plains DAR. member. Cooper with DAR member Linda Miller worked to plan the grave marking on Memorial Day. About 41 graves of Revolutionary War veterans are scattered across Oakland County cemeteries and about 351 across Michigan according to the Michigan Sons of the American Revolution, 2016.