Bronze seal 



Chartered July 7, 1890, Richmond, Virginia

The initiative to establish the Virginia Society began in Washington, D.C., in 1890. On February 10th, a conference was held in the nation’s capital where several Congressmen from Virginia formed a committee to organize a Society in Virginia promptly.


On February 28th, the committee reconvened at the Capitol, adopted a constitution and bylaws, and elected the following distinguished 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 chartered the Virginia Society in Richmond on July 7, 1890, with 62 charter members.

The first Minute Books of the Virginia Society, which sold significant historical value, are housed in the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. Notable Secretaries of the Virginia Society included William MacFarlane Jones and Kenneth C. Patty. Jones, who joined in 1893, managed the Headquarters office from its opening until his death in December 1951. Kenneth C. Patty served as Secretary-Registrar from 1954 until his passing in March 1967.

Since its inception, over 10,000 men have joined the Virginia Society. Recent growth has focused on:

  • Promoting patriotism, historical research and education
  • Increasing membership and the number of Chapters for greater effectiveness
  • Expanding the growth of the KnightPatty Fund, Inc.
  • Participating in the Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest in both State and National levels
  • Engaging 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;
  • Locating and marking the graves of Revolutionary War Patriots.

Five of Virginia Society’s most distinguished members have served as President General of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

  1. Herbert Foreman—President General in 19471948
  2. Dr. Howard L. Hamilton PhD, from CharlottesvillePresident General in 19821983
  3. Reon G. Hillegass, Jr., from NorfolkPresident General in 19961997
  4. Bruce A. Wilcox from AlexandriaPresident General in 20072008 and was elected during the 2007 National Congress hosted by the Virginia Society in Williamsburg
  5. Joseph W. DooleyFalls Church was President General in 2013–2014.

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 State Park and U.S. National Park cooperative venture received official status in the National Societies list of Historic Celebrations during the fall Trustees Meeting in 2004. The Virginia Society participates in the wreath laying event on the 2nd weekend of May each year which is hosted by the Martin’s Station Chapter. The wreath laying commemorates the pioneers who traversed the Wilderness Road and those who manned and defended the outpost at Martin’s Station. The outpost served as a beacon of light on the Wilderness Road as the pioneers journeyed through the Cumberland Gap.

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