AUGUSTA — Brian Dorr embarked on a cross-country adventure Friday, flying 3,263 miles to Augusta from Washington state so he could honor a distant ancestor Sunday afternoon.

The Sons of the American Revolution brass grave marker that has been placed at the grave of William Dorr at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Augusta. Brian Dorr photo

A shoulder injury and retirement from his career as a firefighter had Dorr, 56, with extra time, so he decided a while ago to begin searching his family tree online.

To Dorr’s surprise, his fifth great-grandparent, William Dorr, had a Sons of the American Revolution, or SAR, marker on his photograph.

Brian Dorr found that William Dorr, a Revolutionary War-era veteran, served in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, fought April 19, 1775, and later on an expedition to Quebec under Benedict Arnold, before settling in Hallowell.

Although William Dorr’s name might not be known widely, Brian Dorr did not want William’s life to go unnoticed any longer. He decided to travel the more than 3,200 miles to Augusta to place a Sons of American Revolution patriot marker at Dorr’s grave in Augusta.

On Sunday, Dorr’s family held a ceremony to mark the grave at Mount Vernon Cemetery on Winthrop Street.


“If you don’t remember people, they fade away,” Brian Dorr said, quoting from “Coco,” the 2017 Pixar Animation Studios movie. “That’s how history is. There are cemeteries of people that no one will remember. I don’t think anyone has been to (William Dorr’s) grave in around 70 years.”

Brian Dorr, center, a descendent of William Dorr, who fought in the American Revolution, leads a ceremony Sunday for William Dorr at his gravesite, bottom, at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Augusta. Members of the Sons of the American Revolution are wearing period clothing for the ceremony. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Since April, William Dorr’s grave has had frequent visitors to prepare for Sunday’s event, attended by Dorr’s family: Brian Dorr and his wife, Michelle, and daughter, Isabella, 23, and other family members, who traveled from Washington state, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Members of the Sons of the American Revolution attended the ceremony, wearing period clothing and carrying muskets. A few members of the Daughters of the American Revolution also attended and placed flowers on William Dorr’s gravesite, which he shares with his wife, Jane Partridge, and is next to his son, John Dorr, and John Dorr’s wife, Mary Ann Dorr. 

The Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution are national societies that people can join if they have a Revolutionary War veteran in their family. Members often place a patriot marker, usually a brass star that sticks up from the grass, at ancestors’ graves, and there is a specific ceremony that need be followed when placing a marker at a grave.

Brian Dorr spoke of his research into William Dorr’s life and shared with an audience of about 20 people Dorr’s accomplishments, including having fought in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, traveled under Benedict Arnold to Quebec and, later, settling in Hallowell, where he and his family bought land at the Hook, now known as Sheppard’s Point.

Brian Dorr said he used to gain access to journals and documents from William Dorr’s life, and to see photographs of William Dorr’s grave. Dorr also found that distant relatives wrote stories of William Dorr’s life, but none of Dorr’s immediate family knew William’s story. 


Jeff Williams, president of the Maine chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, and Brian Dorr’s daughter, Isabella Dorr, placed the marker at the grave. Isabella Dorr is a pending member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“It’s amazing all of the centuries later to have this and honor an ancestor,” Williams said.

In preparation for the ceremony and his arrival in Maine, Brian Dorr contacted Jessica Couture at the Maine Old Cemetery Association to locate and clean the three Dorr graves that had to be rinsed and disassembled because previous repairs were done poorly. Couture said it is common to see patriot markers on graves.

“It had previous repairs and bad materials were used, so we had to chisel all of that off and start fresh for a good bond,” Couture explained. “A piece was also swapped out. I think the original was damaged, and it didn’t fit together like we expected it to.”

The remembrance ceremony ended with a bugle salute performed by Charles McGillicuddy, a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.

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