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History of the West Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution

From pages 156-8 of the book: The Sons of the American Revolution, 1962-1982, An Historical Anthology, Vol. II, editor: Harry L. Walen, A.M., Historian General, published by National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution

The West Virginia Society

The State of West Virginia was represented at the formation of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in New York City on April 30, 1889. According to a list of general officers published in the National Register of the Society, John J. Jacob was elected at that time as Vice-President General representing the state. A subsequent publication of the National Society, giving a list of the state societies, also listed the date of organization and the officers elected since May 1, 1890. Included therein was the West Virginia Society, organized January 31, 1890, and listed as its officers were John J. Jacob, president; George L. Cranmer, secretary and registrar; and Robert White, treasurer. All of these gentlemen were listed as residents of Wheeling, West Virginia.

The charter members were Arthur O. Baker-3137; Harry C. Caldwell-3129; Friend Cox-3139; Gibson L. Cranmer-3127; Jacob E. Curtis-3138; George C. Dewey-3136; Orville C. Dewey-3131; Samuel F. Faris-3140; John J. Jacob-3128; Daniel Z. Philip-3135; W. H. H. Stanberry-3134; William Tucker-3130; Robert White-3126; Nanson W. Zane-3132, and Orloff L. Zane-3133.

During 1926, through the diligent work and direction of President General Wilbert H. Barrett, of Michigan, a group began the task of locating a sufficient number of eligible applicants to enable the organization of a West Virginia Society. Among this group, in addition to the President General, were Edward A. Mack, of the Utah Society, living in Nitro; Colonel James P. Nicklin, USA, of the Tennessee Society, living in Huntington; Charles G. Hequembourt, of the Empire State Society, living in Charleston; Harrison Gray Otis, of Clarksburg; Benjamin Bruce Burns, of Huntington; and Mrs. Victoria T. Vickers, regent of Buford Chapter, DAR, of Huntington.

The State Society had lapsed for 26 years, but early in 1927, under the leadership of PG Wilbert H. Barrett, of Michigan, these seven men from West Virginia had been qualified and admitted to membership in the National Society: Benjamin Bruce Burns, Huntington; Foree Dabney Caldwell, Huntington; Monroe Jackson Rathbone, Parkersburg; Frank Williams, Moundsville; John Walker Geiger, Huntington; William Dovel Le Sage, Huntington, and John Ames Ford, Palmer. It was now apparent that the West Virginia Society would again become a reality, and an organizational meeting was held at Huntington on February 26, 1927. At this meeting a charter from the National Society was presented, a constitution and by-laws were adopted, and officers were elected, with Benjamin Bruce Burns of Huntington the president. Among National officers present at the installation of officers was President General Wilbert H. Barrett, of Adrian, Michigan. By the time charter memberships were closed, 269 compatriots had been enrolled in the new society.

The first chapter organized under the authority granted by the West Virginia Society at the meeting of February 26, 1927, was the George Rogers Clark Chapter in Clarksburg, followed by the authorization of a chapter at Huntington, later to be known as the General Andrew Lewis Chapter. The George Rogers Clark Chapter, on the strength of submitting a list of 54 prospective members with entrance fees and dues paid, was designated Chapter Number 1, and was chartered on February 26, 1927; Huntington was also organized in 1927, being designated as Chapter Number 2. Subsequently 11 additional chapters were organized in Bluefield (General Nathaniel Greene), 1928; Parkersburg (formerly Parkersburg, now James Neale), 1931; Charleston (Daniel Boone), 1946; Martinsburg (General Adam Stephen), 1946; Buckhannon (Anthony Reger), 1946; Beckley (Captain James Ellison), 1947; Logan (West Augusta), 1947; Wheeling (formerly Zane, now Fort Henry), 1947; Morgantown (Colonel Zacquill Morgan), 1947; Fayetteville, and Lewisburg (Greenbrier Valley), February 12, 1973.

By the end of 1927, 304 members had been admitted and the trend of activity continued through 1930, when the rolls reached 432. By this time the effects of the Great Depression were being felt by the society and both the number of chapters and the number of members had dropped out, until in 1943 their numbers had fallen to approximately 40. Through the sincere interest and great effort of a small group of compatriots, new members were enrolled and former members reinstated until in 1945 the society reported 209 members paid up and in good standing.

The highlight of the late 1940’s was the convening of the 57th Congress at Huntington, at which the West Virginia Society served as host to the National Society. The Honorable A. Herbert Foreman of Virginia was elected President General, and at the banquet held in his honor, Colonel Louis A. Johnson, later Secretary of Defense, served as toastmaster. It is here noted that at Huntington the largest number of delegates and guests were registered of any Congress held before 1947.

As a result of the interest generated by the activities related to the Congress, 141 new members were admitted during the three-year period beginning in 1946. By the end of 1979, an accumulative total of 1,421 men had become compatriots in the West Virginia Society.

The promotion of patriotism has been a foremost objective of the society. Sponsorship and promotion of contests in historical oration and patriotic essay writing has aroused great interest in the students of our community. Outstanding citizens have been recognized with awards of Good Citizenship Medals, and outstanding cadets of the Reserve Officer Training Corps in our universities and colleges have received appropriate medals. Patriotic days are observed in our chapter meetings and notice is given to the public on such occasions.

Aside from the Vice Presidents General listed in the Appendix, Chester A. Walworth served two terms as Genealogist General (1865-6) and W. Guy Tetrick served seven terms in that office (1948-9, 51-3, and 71-2).

Three West Virginia Compatriots have been honored by the National Society by the presentation of the Minuteman Award. They are: Martin I. Stutler, Chester A. Walworth, and Willis Guy Tetrick, Jr.

From page 484 of the book: The Sons of the American Revolution NSSAR History, Volume III, 1983-1999, An Historical Anthology, co-editors: Robert Franklin Jackson, Historian General; and Garrett Franklin Jackson, Commander NSSAR Color Guard, published by National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, 2000:

West Virginia Society

The State of West Virginia was represented at the formation of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in New York City on April 30, 1889. According to a list of general officers published in the National Register of the Society, John J. Jacob was elected at that time as Vice-President General representing the state. A subsequent publication of the National Society, giving a list of the state societies, also listed the date of organization and the officers elected since May 1, 1890. Included therein was the West Virginia Society, organized January 31, 1890, and listed as its officers were John J. Jacob, president; George L. Cranmer, secretary and registrar; and Robert White, treasurer. All of these gentlemen were listed as residents of Wheeling, West Virginia.

During the years covered in this volume, the West Virginia Society was honored to have one Compatriot serve as President General of the National Society, Charles F. Printz; and four Compatriots serve as Vice President General – Central Disrict: 1985-1986 – James E. Johnson; 1989-1990 – Dwight Cruikshank, III, MD; 1993-1994 – David G. Webb Jr.; 1997-1998 – Raymond O. Musgrave. Compatriot Robert R. Weiler, MD served as Surgeon General in 1983.

The West Virginia Society had seven chapters: Capt. James Neal, Daniel Boone, General Adam Stevens, Gen. Andrew Lewis, George Rogers Clark, Greenbrier Valley and Point Pleasant.

Current Update

Currently, the West Virginia Society is composed of ten chapters:

Captain James Neal Chapter which is located in Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia
Captain Ralph Stewart Chapter which is located in Oceana, Wyoming County, West Virginia
Daniel Boone Chapter which is located in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia
Fort Henry Chapter which is located in Wheeling, Ohio County, West Virginia
General Adam Stephen Chapter which is located in Martinsburg, Berkeley County, West Virginia
General Adrew Lewis Chapter which is located in Huntington, Cabell and Wayne Counties, West Virginia
General Hugh Mercer Chapter which is located in Princeton, Mercer County, West Virginia
George Rogers Clark Chapter which is located in Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia
Greenbrier Valley Chapter which is located in Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, West Virginia
Point Pleasant ChapterĀ  which is located in Point Pleasant, Mason County, West Virginia

In 2012, the West Virginia Society of the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution was awarded the prestigious Colorado Award.
The Colorado Award is presented to the state society with the highest percentage of increase in membership among states with more than 100 members.

The following West Virginia Compatriots have served as Vice-President General:
Richard D. Brockway
Lance Carter 2013-2014
Finlay J. Coles
Doliver McComas
Lyle McCullough
Raymond Musgrave 2003-2004
Charles Printz 1988-1989
John Smith