In 1876 there were many celebrations to commemorate the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. As part of this patriotic fervor, a group of men in the San Francisco, California, area who were descendants of patriots involved in the American Revolution, formed an organization called the Sons of Revolutionary Sires. Their objective was to have a fraternal and civic society to salute those men and women who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the battle for independence from Great Britain. They desired to keep alive their ancestors' story of patriotism and courage in the belief that it is a universal one of man's struggle against tyranny; a story which would inspire and sustain succeeding generations when they would have to defend and extend our freedoms.
Out of the Sires grew the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, which was organized on April 30, 1889 -- the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington as our nation's first President. We have used the acronym SAR to identify ourselves for over 100 years. The SAR was conceived as a fraternal and civic society composed of lineal descendants of the men who wintered at Valley Forge, signed the Declaration of Independence, fought in the battles of the American Revolution, served in the Continental Congress, or otherwise supported the cause of American Independence. The National Society was chartered by an Act of the united States Congress on June 9, 1906.
The charter was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a member of the SAR.
The charter authorizes the granting of charters to societies of the various states and territories and authorizes the state societies to charter chapters within their borders.
Ohio SAR Preliminary Meeting - 1889
In Ohio, a preliminary meeting, attended by a few residents of the State, was held in the office of Governor J.B. Foraker at the Capitol in Columbus, April 11th, 1889; the organization of the Ohio Society Sons of the American Revolution having antedated that of the National Society by nineteen days.
The following were present:
The Rev. W. R. Parsons of Worthington, Gen. H. A. Axline of Zanesville and H. A. Williams, L. Backus, W. A. Taylor, the Rev. Thomas B. Van Horne, D. H. Gard, W. D. Guilbert and A. A. Graham of Columbus.
At an adjourned meeting, held April 22nd, it was resolved to organize an Ohio Society of Sons of the Revolution, and the following were elected executive officers:
President - The Rev. Wilson R. Parsons of Worthington.
Treasurer - Henry A. Williams of Columbus.
Secretary - A. A. Graham of Columbus.
Further, it was resolved to issue an address to the people of the State; and this was done under date of April 22nd. All residents of Ohio who could trace their genealogy to men who served in the Revolution were invited to become members of the Society and to attend an adjourned meeting, to be held in Columbus, June 4th. The address was signed by the nine gentlemen who attended the preliminary meeting. Considerable interest was awakened by this address, which was published widely throughout the State by the newspapers.
Ohio SAR Is Founded
Pursuant to appointment, a meeting was held on June 4th at the State House in Columbus, at which the organization of the Society was perfected. A constitution was adopted, following the lines of that of the New York Society, S.R., admitting to membership, however, "persons" properly qualified by descent. By-laws were adopted providing for an auxiliary membership of husbands, wives and mothers of active members. The annual dues was fixed at $1 and life membership at $10.
Trustees were elected as follows:
For three years - W. A. Taylor of Columbus, the Rev. W.R. Parsons of Worthington, A.G. Wilson of Xenia, W.L. Curry of Marysville, and L. Backus of Columbus.
For two years - S.V.R. Howard of New London, J. S. Ellis of Columbus, E. A. Saddler of Uhrichsville, D.H. Gard of Columbus, James H. Anderson of Columbus.
For one year - W. D. Guilbert of Columbus, J. M. Beach of West Jefferson, A. A. Graham of Columbus, E. S. Churchman of Plain City, A. W. Stiles of Delaware.
This Board of Trustees at a subsequent meeting elected the following Executive Committee: James H. Anderson, L. Backus, D. H. Gard and Dr. C. C. White of Columbus, and E. S. Churchman of Plain City.
A. A. Graham and Henry A. Williams were appointed a committee to issue a bulletin, setting forth the requirements of membership and the action of the meeting, and calling for applications for membership.
The following are the charter members of the Society:
The Rev. W. R. Parsons of Worthington, A. A. Graham, L. Backus, W. A. Taylor, Henry A. Williams, W. D. Guilbert, John S. Ellis, James H. Anderson, D. H. Gard, Wordsworth Gard, Irving Gard, O. O. Gard, Clarence A. Taylor and Milton P. Pierce of Columbus; E. S. Churchman of Plain City; Emory A. Saddler of Uhrichsville; A. G. Wilson of Xenia; James T. Anderson of Fort Duchesne, Utah; J. F. Engle of Cleveland; and S. V. R. Howard of New London.
During 1889 the work of introducing the objects of the Society was quietly prosecuted.
Nov. 23, 1889, Mr. Graham was obliged by the pressure of private business to resign as Secretary. His duties were assumed by Mr. Williams, the Treasurer.
April 8, 1890, at the regular annual meeting of the Society, new officers were elected, the Board for the ensuing year being composed as follows:
President - Gen. H. A. Axline of Columbus.
Vice President - Col. W. A. Taylor of Columbus.
Secretary and Treasurer - The Rev. Wilson R. Parsons.
Registrar - D. H. Gard of Columbus.
Board of Trustees - W. A. Taylor of Columbus, the Rev. Wilson R. Parsons of Worthington, A. G. Wilson of Xenia, Col. W. L. Curry of Marysville, L. Backus of Columbus, S. V. R. Howard of New London, J. S. Ellis of Columbus, Emory A. Saddler of Uhrichsville, D. H. Gard and James H. Anderson of Columbus, Gen. Henry A. Axline of Zanesville, Dr. Albert Cooper and A. A. Graham of Columbus, Major E. C. Dawes of Cincinnati, and Dr. E. C. Brush of Zanesville.
Executive Committee - Henry A. Williams, L. Backus, D. H. Gard, Francis C. Sessions, and James H. Anderson.
National Congress 1890
The National Congress at Louisville, April 30, 1890, gave an impulse to the work of recruiting the Society in Ohio, which had now become a branch of the SAR. Mr. Parsons, a grandson of Benjamin Parsons, who was killed in the battle of White Plains, having taken the position of Secretary expressly for the purpose of pushing the business of organization, entered upon the task of holding meetings in the principal cities of the State and of creating therein local branches of the State Society.
Local, Statewide Meetings Begin
The first meeting was held in Cincinnati May 28th, 1890, and was attended with excellent results.
The meeting was held at the Burnet House. Judge Hollister presided, and G. Mortimer Roe was secretary, and there were also present J. D. Caldwell, K. T. Lee, D. W. Miller, Dr. Carson, Prof. Norton of the University, George Kinsey, Dr. L. C. Armstrong, F. F. Gibson, Dr. Ambrose and M. L. O'Brien. Rev. Dr. Parsons spoke of the objects of the Society, and explained the form of organization. He said that there were in the State ten thousand people who were direct descendants of soldiers of the Revolutionary War; descendants of either line, paternal or maternal, are eligible to membership, and so are descendants of persons who rendered service to the American forces in any civil capacity.
The meeting was an enthusiastic one, and energetic efforts were initiated to secure a large membership for the Ohio Society in Cincinnati. The policy thus begun was to be pursued until every part of the State was covered. Meetings were held in Zanesville and Dayton in November.
However, as in Wisconsin, the Ohio SAR met with an unexpected obstacle in a public misapprehension of the character of the Society. Some of the German newspapers of Cincinnati conceived the opinion that German citizens were to be excluded from membership because they were Germans. It has been found necessary to make explanations through the press. The Society later received the powerful aid of Gen. H.V. Boynton, whose editorials and explanations in the Cincinnati Commercial-Gazette awakened fresh interest in the Ohio SAR.
Today In The Ohio SAR
Today the Ohio Society SAR consists of over 1,600 members in 23 chapters across the State of Ohio. Nationwide, almost 165,000 descendants of the men and women patriots of the American Revolution have been admitted into the National Society since our Founding (as of August 2015).
SAR members include:
> Presidents of the United States
> Brigadier, Lieutenant, and Five Star Generals
> Medal of Honor Recipients
> Presidents of Colleges and Universities
> Judges, State and U.S. Congressmen and Senators
Members include small businessmen, doctors, lawyers, school teachers, CPA’s, elected local, state and federal officials and government employees, all of who have a deep appreciation for America, its heritage and institutions.