History of Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution

(Reproduced from the VASSAR Handbook)

Go To Presidents of the Virginia Society to Date

Organized July 7, 1890, Richmond, Virginia

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)
Vice President General: William H. F. Lee, a member of Congress from Burke’s Station,
•• Fairfax County (son of Robert E. Lee)
Vice President: Colonel George Washington Ball of Alexandria (nearest living male
•• relative of George Washington)
Secretary: Thomas Nelson Page of Hanover County, a man of letters
Treasurer: Joseph Poryall of Richmond
Registrar: J. William Jones of Richmond, a well-known historian

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:

  • Promoting the objectives of patriotism, historical research and education;
  • Increasing membership and the number of Chapters for more effectiveness;
  • Continuing the growth of the Knight-Patty Fund, Inc;
  • Participating in the Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest on both State and National levels;
  • Participating in the Stella and George Knight Essay Contest, on both State and National levels;
  • Publicizing the Virginia Society through as many of the various media as possible;
  • Preserving the papers of over 6,000 members of the Virginia Society;
  • Promoting and celebrating patriotic anniversaries, especially those pertaining to the Revolutionary War as it occurred in Virginia or involved Virginia Patriot Units;
  • and Locating and marking the graves of Revolutionary War Patriots.

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.

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Presidents of the Virginia Society to Date

Hon. William Wirt Henry 1890-1897
CAPT Charles Urquhart Williams 1897-1900
Dr. Joseph A. White 1900-1902
Hon. Lunsford L. Lewis 1902-1912
GEN. Charles J. Anderson 1912-1913
Josiah Stanton Moore 1913-1914
Arthur B. Clarke 1914-1922
COL Eugene C. Massie 1922-1924
Hon. Rosewell Page 1924-1925
Hon. Amos Johnston Ackiss 1925-1926
Elmore Delos Hotchkiss 1926-1929
William Eldridge Crawford 1929-1930
Dr. Joseph Dupuy Eggleston 1930-1931
Hon. Don P. Halsey 1931-1932
William Macfarlane Jones 1932-1933
Hon. William Henry Sargent, Jr. 1933-1934
Walter Baker Livezey 1934-1935
Philip St. George Cooke 1935-1936
Tom Moore 1936-1938
CAPT James Dearing Fauntleroy 1938-1939
William Irvine Gilkeson 1939-1940
G. Guy Via 1940-1941
GEN Harrison J. Price 1941-1942
William Thomas Old 1942-1943
A. Herbert Foreman 1943-1944
Joseph Kent Roberts 1944-1945
Walter F. Lipford 1945-1947
Archie G. Ryland 1947-1948
Marcellus E. Wright 1948-1949
Crawford S. Rogers 1949-1951
John J. Fairbanks, Jr. 1951-1952
Wallace Hicks 1952-1953
Kenneth C. Patty 1953-1954
Donald W. Shriver 1954-1955
COL James G. Martin, IV 1955-1955
R. Paul Belford 1955-1956
COL E. Griffith Dodson 1956-1958
COL Robert P. Waters 1958-1959
Joseph H. Cottrell 1959-1960
Robert V. H. Duncan 1960-1961
CAPT Robert P. Abernathy 1961-1962
E. Turpin Phillips 1962-1963
Rev. R. Allen Brown 1963-1964
COL Bruce C. Gunnell 1964-1965
COL Claude H. Smith 1965-1966
COL Carroll Wright 1966-1967
L. Ralston Curry 1967-1968
Charles R. Haugh 1968-1969
Donald W. Baldwin 1969-1970

CDR Cary J. Randolph 1970-1971
Dr. Carl E. Stark 1971-1972
COL Irving B. Morgan 1972-1973
Thomas Page Nelson 1973-1974
MAJ J. Thomas Burch 1974-1975
Gerald P. Finn 1975-1976
Judson P. Mason 1976-1977
Braxton H. Tabb 1977-1978
Dr. Walter A. Porter 1978-1979
Dr. Howard L. Hamilton 1979-1980
Roderick D. Brown 1980-1981
CAPT John T. S. Kearns 1981-1982
George S. Knight 1982-1983
Conrad P. Mook 1983-1984
Kenneth Calloway King, Jr. 1984-1985
Reon G. Hillegass, Jr. 1985-1986
Chester E. May 1986-1987
James L. Mayer 1987-1988
James S. Cremins, Sr. 1988-1989
Walter W. Brewster 1989-1990
COL Richard G. Sauner 1990-1991
The Rev. W. Ramsey Richardson 1991-1992
Dr. Thomas Wirt Sale, Jr., MD 1992-1993
LTC Carlos J. Ricketson 1993-1994
Dr. John D. Sinks, PhD 1994-1995
LTC Donald E. Dye, Jr. 1995-1996
MAJ Lorance D. Lisle 1996-1997
Bruce A. Wilcox 1997-1998
COL Paul M. Frantz 4 1998-1999
Dr. David H. Harpole, Sr., MD 1999-2000
Dr. Donald F. Reynolds, DDS 2000-2001
Richard S. Austin 2001-2002
Dr. E. Trice Taylor, DDS 2002-2003
James Robert Justice 2003-2004
CAPT John N. Dickie 2004-2005
Lawrence E. McKinley 2005-2006
James M. Bayne, AIA 2006-2007
Joseph W. Dooley 2007-2008
Arthur D Batten 2008-2009
William Lee Simpson, Jr 2009-2010
Robert L. "Bob" Bowen 2010-2011
Mark S. Brennan, Sr 2011-2012
Dr. Henry P. "Phil" Williams III 2012-2013
Kent S. Webber 2013-14
W. A. Broadus Jr. 2014-15
Reverdy Wright, Ph.D. 2015-16
Edward W. Truslow, 2016-17
Michael J. Elston, 2017-8
Patrick M. Kelly, 2018-9