History of Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution
(Reproduced from the VASSAR Handbook)
Go To Presidents of the Virginia Society to Date
The movement to organize the Virginia Society was started in the city of Washington in 1890. At a conference held in the nation’s capitol on February 10th, several Congressmen from Virginia constituted themselves as a committee to organize a Society in Virginia without delay. On February 28th the committee reassembled at the Capitol, adopted a constitution and bylaws and elected the following outstanding Virginians as officers:
President: Honorable William Wirt Henry of Richmond (Grandson of Patrick Henry)
Lieutenant J. C. Cresap, USN, of Annapolis, Secretary-General of the National Society, and Professor G. Brown Goode, Ph.D., Registrar of the District of Columbia Society, formally organized the Virginia Society at Richmond on July 7, 1890. There were 62 charter members.
The first Minute Books of the Virginia Society, which are of historic interest, are in the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. Among the distinguished compatriots acting as Secretary of the Virginia Society were William MacFarlane Jones and Kenneth C. Patty. Compatriot Jones, who joined the Virginia Society in 1893, was in charge of the Headquarters office from its opening until his death in December 1951. The Honorable Kenneth C. Patty took the office of Secretary-Registrar in 1954 and served faithfully until he passed away in March 1967.
Since the organization of the Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, over 7,000 men have become members. the Virginia Society has grown in recent years with emphasis placed on:
Four of the Virginia Society’s most distinguished members have served as President General of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. A. Herbert Foreman was President General in 1947-1948. Dr. Howard L. Hamilton PhD, from Charlottesville was President General in 1982-1983. Reon G. Hillegass, Jr., from Norfolk, was President General in 1996-1997. Bruce Wilcox was President General from 2007 to 2008. President General Bruce A. Wilcox was elected during the 2007 National Congress hosted by the Virginia Society in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The successful effort to honor George Mason of Gunston Hall, the brilliant statesman and author of the Fairfax Resolves in 1774, on a United States postage stamp was led by Conrad Mook of the George Mason Chapter. The stamp was issued in May 1981.
The annual commemoration of the Battle of Yorktown on October 19 has received major support from the Virginia Society. As part of this observation the Virginia Society annually sponsors a wreath laying ceremony at the grave of General Thomas Page Nelson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The Virginia Society is a member of the Yorktown Day Association.
The annual commemoration of the Battle of Point Pleasant (now in West Virginia) in early October was initiated by and receives major support from the Virginia Society. As a part of the Memorial Ceremony, the President of the Virginia Society and other State Society Presidents and SAR Chapter Presidents place memorial wreaths on the graves of the Virginia militiamen buried there.
In the spring of 1983, the Virginia Society commemorated the presence of Virginia patriots at Valley Forge by dedicating a monument at the Valley Forge National Park. The monument was made possible by gifts from many compatriots throughout the Virginia Society and by a bequest from the estate of a former member.
The Wilderness Road, Virginia State Park and U.S. National Park cooperative venture has received official status in the National Societies list of Historic Celebrations as of the fall Trustees Meeting in 2004. The Virginia Society will participate in the wreath laying event the 2nd week of May each year. The wreath laying will commemorate the pioneers who traversed the Wilderness Road and those who manned and defended the outpost (Martin’s Station). The outpost served as a beacon of light on the Wilderness Road as the pioneers journeyed through the Cumberland Gap.
The Virginia Society is composed of 26 chapters throughout the state and a Headquarters Chapter which serves compatriots who are members of the Virginia Society and reside beyond a chapter’s or the state’s borders.
Presidents of the Virginia Society to Date
Hon. William Wirt Henry 1890-1897
COL Irving B. Morgan 1972-1973