In the year 1780, a 12-year-old girl named Sarah Ruddell was among the hundreds of settlers captured after a combined British and Indian force sieged their encampment near the Licking River in present day Kentucky.
Ruddell and other able-bodied women and children were forced to march north to Detroit, which was controlled by the British. She was kept captive for four years before being released as the Revolutionary War wound down.
Ruddell ended up marrying one of her fellow captives, a man named Thomas Davis, and the couple settled in Pike County, Mo. The couple had a daughter, also named Sarah, who went on to marry Rev. Thomas Johnson, the founder of the Shawnee Methodist Indian Mission in present day Fairway. After Sarah Davis’s husband died, she relocated to the mission to be close to her daughter, where she lived until her death in 1865 at the age of 97.
On Saturday, the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution held a “patriot grave marking” ceremony commemorating Sarah Davis’s history and involvement in the events of the Revolutionary War. She is, according to the group’s historians, the only Revolutionary War patriot to be buried in the state of Kansas.
As part of the ceremony, a color guard of 20 men dressed in Continental Army uniform replicas lined up behind her grave marker in the small cemetery at 3201 Shawnee Mission Parkway. Historian John Forbes gave a detailed account of Davis’s time in captivity as well as the events that ultimately brought her to Johnson County.
Among the attendees at the ceremony were Fairway Mayor Melanie Hepperly, Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden, and County Commissioners Michael Ashcraft, Mike Brown and Becky Fast.