On April 2, 2022, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution conducted a funeral marking to commemorate John Holker’s service in the fight for independence. The ceremony was held at Burwell Cemetery, Millwood, Clarke, Virginia.
John Holker was born in Manchester, England. His father fled to Rouen, France in 1745 and established himself in French textile manufacturing. John returned to England between 1769 and 1772 to study British manufacturing processes. In 1777, with his father, he became involved in helping the American commissioners in Paris to obtain military clothing and supplies. The following year he was sent to America as a diplomatic representative and observer of the American Revolutionary War effort.
When the French increased their aid to America in 1779, Holker became a key figure in the alliance. General George Washington relied on him for information concerning the French fleet and he became the intermediary between Washington and Admiral D’Estaing. He was also instrumental in purchasing supplies for the French fleet and horses for General Rochambeau’s French army.
By 1780 Holker had become consul general for Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. While in these states, he engaged in private business. When the French government learned of his financial activities, he was asked to observe their ban on public officials from trading or resigning. He resigned in 1781.
Sometime in 1792 he moved his family to the Winchester area. He acquired the house known as Springsbury, near Berryville, Virginia. John Holker, died in 1822 and was buried in Winchester Catholic Cemetery. In 1904 his remains were moved to Old Chapel Cemetery (also known as Burwell Cemetery).
The ceremony was hosted by Dale Corey. In attendance were Virginia Society SAR 1st Vice President Ernie Coggins and 3rd Vice President Dr. Michael Weyler; representing the national society was Surgeon General Dr Ernest Sutton; Sara Cox, president of the Virginia Society Children of the American Revolution; French Society Trustee Pat Kelly and Rich Rattan of the Order of Founders and Patriots of Virginia. France was represented by Colonel Aymeric Tardieu De Maleissye, Lieutenant-Colonel Alain Abad and Lieutenant-Colonel Marc Gilles with their wives. Wreaths and greetings were presented by all these organizations.
Virginia SAR Chapter wreaths were presented by Thomas “Chip” Daniel, Col. James Wood II; Tom Hamill, Minutemen of Culpeper; Pat Kelly, Thomas Jefferson; Ken Morris, George Mason; Dave Cook, Fairfax Resolves; Paul Cox, Colonel Fielding Lewis; Leamon Duncan, Colonel William Grayson and Ken Bonner, Sergeant Major John Champe. The Daughters of the American Revolution chapters were Darcy Mathes, Commonwealth Virginia; Paula Schwoerer, Elizabeth McIntosh Hamill; Kecia Brown, Ketoctin; Anita Bonner, Lanes Mill and West Virginia, Michelle Phillips, Pack Horse Ford. Brett Osborn gave a presentation on the life of John Holker and his contributions to the struggle for independence. The Virginia State Color Guard presented the colors and fired a three-barrel musket salute to honor John Holker and his support for the American colonies during the Revolutionary War. In the guard were Commander Brett Osborn, Ken Bonner, Sean Carrigan, Paul Christensen, Dave Cook, Jim Cordes, Dale Corey, Thomas “Chip” Daniel, Leamon Duncan, Kelly Ford, Doug Hall, Pat Kelly, Erick Moore, Patrick Moore, Allan Phillips, Nathan Poe, Will Reynolds, Marc Robinson, Bill Schwetke, Barry Schwoerer, Jacob Schwoerer, Mike St Jacques and Richard Tyler.
After the ceremony, refreshments were provided by Robin Hall, Becky Ebert and Deborah Corey with a presentation of the Old Chapel and Cemetery by Director Bob Randolph. Special thanks to Randolph and Cemetery Warden Marcel Bousquet for their support of this event.