Relatives honor one of the nation’s first Marines

CALDWELL – A small group assembled recently in a windswept cemetery on a hillside in Noble County to honor the grave of Philip Hupp, a soldier who participated in a secret mission along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers during the Revolutionary War.

Among those gathered at the graveyard were Marietta Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp, his father Gerry Hupp and Sgt. Rod Hupp with the Marietta Police Department who only recently discovered Philip Hupp is their common ancestor.

“I had no idea we were distant cousins with Rod Hupp,” Jonathan said. “But there were a lot of boys in Philip Hupp’s family tree, so it probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.”

Philip Hupp, a Continental Marine with the 13th Virginia Continental Army, was buried in the Hesson Cemetery along Ohio 564 in Enoch Township in November of 1831. He was 75-years old when he died, according to the grave marker.

Jonathan and his father, both of whom also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, were surprised to learn their ancestor was among the country’s first Marines.

“Until two weeks ago they didn’t know who their great grandfather (seven times removed) was, nor did they know he served as a Continental Marine on a secret mission on the Ohio River in 1778,” said Jean Yost, president of the Marietta Chapter Sons of the American Revolution.

While researching the anniversary of the Marine Corps founding, Yost came across the details of the mission that involved 25 volunteers from the 13th Virginia Continentals, including Philip Hupp who would have been 22 years old at the time.

The Marines were to travel down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans, where they were to steal supplies from British loyalists (Tories) and return back upstream to Fort Pitt, according to plans that had been formulated during a secret session of the Commerce Committee of the Continental Congress in late 1777.

According to Yost’s research, under command of Marine Capt. James Willing, the group set sail down the Ohio Jan. 10, 1778, from Fort Pitt, present-day Pittsburgh, aboard an armed vessel christened the USS Rattletrap.

In February at Natchez, Miss., Willing and his Marines overtook the town, arrested several Tories, and captured some valuable loot. A few days later an advance party from the Rattletrap captured the Tory ship Rebecca that was “mounted with sixteen guns, four-pounders, and swivels,’ Yost said.

Willing and his party finally reached New Orleans in March where they took a huge load of materials.

“Estimates of the value have ranged from $15,000 to $1.5 million,” Yost said, adding that it was reported 100 slaves were also taken in the siege.

In June 1779 Philip Hupp had returned to service in the Virginia Continentals under Lt. Robert George and Brigadier Gen. George Rogers Clark at Fort Nelson in Louisville, Ky.

Philip Hupp was discharged in September, 1781. He married Mary Buzzard in Hampshire County, Va. (now West Virginia). The couple lived for a time in the Wheeling area of Ohio County and eventually moved into Ohio around 1800, and lived in Bethel Township, Monroe County, which later became Noble County, according to Yost.

Philip and Mary are both buried in the Hesson Cemetery.

Rod Hupp said he had known of the grave and that his family was related to Philip Hupp through Philip’s brother, Daniel Hupp.

“But until Jean Yost contacted us, I had no idea Philip had been involved in a secret mission,” Rod said.

“My brother, Mike, has done a lot of research into the family history and said we’re seven or eight generations removed from Philip. And I find it interesting that he would have been a contemporary with people like Daniel Boone.”

Mike Hupp’s son, Jacob Hupp, said he, too, was familiar with the gravesite.

“I learned about it from my dad,” he said. “He always brought me out here when I was younger. He would tell me this meant I was a real son of the American Revolution.”

Gerry Hupp said his father didn’t speak much about the family history, so he was quite surprised to learn that he’s a direct descendant of Philip Hupp.

“We didn’t know a lot about the family, but the more I thought about it, I remembered some bits of conversation about this from my mom back in 1949 and 1950,” he said.

Gerry served with the Marine Corps stateside from 1957 to 1961, while his son, Jonathan, served from 1987 to 2010 during Operation Desert Storm and later in Iraq.

“I always thought my older brother, Gene, was the first Marine in our family,” Gerry said. “I’ve always been proud of our family’s service, but I never thought I’d see something like this. I guess we really bleed Marine Corps.”

Jonathan said the discovery of his ancestry gives him a different perspective.

“For years the Revolutionary War has just been history, but now it’s become a lot more personal for me,” he said.


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