Patriots Honored at Christ Church

Patriots Honored at Christ Church

Tribute paid to Revolutionary War heroes

The George Washington Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution presented plaques over the graves of Col. Charles Simms and Lt. Col. Phillip Marsteller at Christ Church in Alexandria, Saturday.

Joseph Shumar, chairman of the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee for Alexandria, was guest of honor. Richard Kusserow, vice president of the George Washington Chapter, was master of ceremonies.

A new marker was unveiled at Marsteller's grave. Michael Crowe presented a brief biography of Lt. Col. Marsteller.

A new plaque was also unveiled at the grave site of Col. Simms. Crowe detailed the life of Simms during the ceremony.

A Color Guard, dressed in Revolutionary period uniform, presented the colors to start the ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation was given by the Christ Church clergy.

Charles Simms

Simms was born in Virginia in 1755. He was part of the militia of Virginia when the Revolutionary War began. He joined Captain Wood's Independent Company in September, 1774, and fought in the battle of Point Pleasant in Ohio. He was a major in the 12th Virginia Regiment in 1776 and a Lieutenant Colonel in the 6th Virginia, in 1777. He distinguished himself at Red Bank, Fort Mifflin and Fort Mercer.

He returned to Alexandria after the war to practice law when he was under 30 years of age. He had six children and lived for many years with his wife and family on the northwest corner of Pitt and Prince streets. In 1788, he was a delegate from his district to the Virginia Convention, and with Patrick Henry, Madison, Marshall, George Mason of Gunston and other prominent men of the day, and was appointed a member of the committee chosen to vote on the adoption of the Federal Constitution.

He was mayor of Alexandria from 1812-1814 and was mayor of the city when the British sent a squadron of war ships up the Potomac River and demanded the surrender of the town. Simms complied due to lack of troops to defend the city. The British occupied Alexandria for five days.

Col. Simms and his wife were guests at the last Birthday Ball of George Washington in February 1799, and was a pallbearer at the funeral of Washington on Dec. 18, 1799.

At the time of his death, Aug. 30, 1819, he was Collector of the Port of Alexandria, and was buried in Christ Church Cemetery with full military and Masonic honors.

Phillip Marsteller

Phillip Marsteller was born Jan. 4, 1742, in New Providence Township, now Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He was reported to have had a good German and English education. At the age of 21, he married Magdalena Rice and settled on a portion of his father's land. At the outbreak of the Revolution, he occupied a prominent position at Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and assisted in raising troops in 1775-76, and also was a member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention in July, 1776. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the first battalion of Lancaster County Militia which was later absorbed into the Pennsylvania line.

Soon after the Revolution, Marsteller moved to Alexandria. Marsteller and his son, Phillip, were engaged in the auction and commission business. He had two other sons and lived in a house on the corner of Washington and Wolf streets.

During his years in Alexandria, he was known as Col. Marsteller. He was on the Alexandria Town Council and later mayor from 1790 to 1792.

He enjoyed his friendship with George Washington and both he and his wife are listed as guests at the last Birthday Ball for Washington in February 1799. Marsteller was an honorary pallbearer at Washington's funeral.

Marsteller died at his home in Alexandria in 1803 and was buried in Christ Church Cemetery. His tombstone, a large table stone, was carried off during the Civil War.