Saltwater Portrait

Parker Schmidt: Cub Scout searches for Revolutionary War grave

Descendent of patriot Foster Donovan on quest
September 6, 2016

In just two years as a Cub Scout, 11-year-old Parker Schmidt knows he wants to be an Eagle Scout. 

Parker said he signed up for Cub Scouts because it was something to do with his friends, but he has been gung-ho ever since. He has a chest full of pins to show all the activities he's excelled in: knot tying, camping and fundraising, to name a few.

Parker's father, Martin, has been Parker's biggest supporter during his years in Cub Scout Pack 95 and now Boy Scout Troop 95. While researching awards, Martin came across one he had never heard of, the James E. West Award. The award is given to those who raise at least $1,000 for the James E. West fellowship which gives scholarships to Scouts who need financial help.

“It's available for all Scouts, but for some reason no other Boy or Cub Scout wanted to do it,” he said.

Over the winter, Parker went to work shoveling snow and organizing a fundraiser at a local business. He raised $1,000 for the fellowship, and he is the first youth Scout in the Delmarva Council to earn the 23-year-old distinction, his father said.

“I like giving someone the opportunity that they may not be able to afford,” said Parker while holding the James E. West certificate.

Helping others is something Parker is used to. A year ago, he saved his family cat, Maggie, after she wandered into a fireplace and caught on fire. “I pulled her out because I didn't want to see her die,” Parker said.

For his heroic deed, the rising sixth-grader at Mariner Middle was given a tribute from the state Senate.

Now, with his father's support, Parker is on a quest to find the grave of Foster Donovan, a Sussex County patriot who fought in the Revolutionary War and died around 1780. There's also a family connection – Donovan is a distant relative, a grandfather 14 times removed by family's estimate.

So far, the two have searched grave areas across greater Georgetown searching for the grave. They have found Donovan family graves at McColleys Chapel, Sand Hill Church, New Market Church and three graves in Redden State Forest, but no sign of Foster's grave, yet.

Some headstones have been knocked down and damaged. “We've cleaned them up to preserve the stones,” Parker said.

Parker is searching for Foster Donovan's grave with hopes to mark it as a Revolutionary War grave. 

But he has to find Foster's grave first. Parker said he expects to find it soon; they're narrowing down its location during each outing.

“We've gotten very close,” he said.

Editor’s note: The story has been updated to clarify information gathered during the interview. 

  • TThe Cape Gazette staff has been featuring Saltwater Portraits for more than 20 years. Reporters prepare written and photographic portraits of a wide variety of characters in Delaware's Cape Region. Saltwater Portraits typically appear in the Cape Gazette's Tuesday print edition in the Cape Life section and online at To recommend someone for a Saltwater Portrait feature, email

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