Connecticut SAR Marks 125th Anniversary

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On April 5, 2014, 10:00 a.m., the Connecticut SAR will celebrate its founding at its 125th annual meeting.

On March 27, 1889, Major John C. Kinney, an editor of the Hartford Courant, inserted a notice in that paper, inviting interested parties to join him on April 2 at the State Capitol Building, to form a society of men with Revolutionary War ancestors. Major Kinney probably expected 40-50 attendees; 200 men showed up, forcing the meeting to move from Room 33 to the larger Room 50. With the election of Hon. Lucius Deming as president, the group that would soon be known as the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution was born.

On April 5, 2014, 10:00 a.m., the Connecticut SAR will celebrate its founding at its 125th annual meeting, also held in the Capitol, followed by a reception at the Bond Ballroom at noon. As with the first meeting, prospective members are invited to attend; please call 860-916-1804 to RSVP.

Connecticut’s Role in the National Society
Lucius Deming, newly-elected president of the Connecticut society, attended a meeting on April 30, 1889 at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan, at which the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution was chartered. Envisioned as a more inclusive alternative to other hereditary societies, the NSSAR elected Deming as its first president, and was incorporated in Connecticut in 1890. By the end of that year, the Connecticut society had 360 members, making it the largest of the affiliated state societies. Today, Connecticut SAR has active regional branches in the Litchfield, Hartford, Vernon, Norwich, New London, New Haven, New Canaan, Newtown, and Greenwich areas.

The First – and Only – SAR Society with Museums
That same year Connecticut SAR acquired the Gov. Trumbull War Office in Lebanon, the “Pentagon of Connecticut,” and arguably the most historically significant Revolutionary War structure in the state. Governor Jonathan Trumbull, who led Connecticut throughout the duration of the war, held more than 500 meetings of the Council of Safety in a converted store or storehouse on his homestead. When the War Office Museum opened to great fanfare on June 15, 1891, Connecticut SAR became only state society to own historic properties used as public museums, a distinction it maintains today. In 1899, with the help of the Lucretia Shaw Chapter of Connecticut DAR, Connecticut SAR purchased the Nathan Hale School House in New London, moved it to city property on Meeting House Hill, restored it, and opened it to the public. The School House has since been relocated three more times, most recently in 2010, to its final location at 19 Atlantic Street. In 1973 the Connecticut SAR took ownership of the Nathan Hale School House in East Haddam, the only other surviving Connecticut building with direct ties to the “martyr-spy.” Connecticut SAR spearheaded the effort to have Nathan Hale declared Connecticut’s State Hero in 1985.

Marking the Revolution
In 1892 the Connecticut SAR embarked on a campaign to “plaque” Connecticut sites that had a Revolutionary connection, an effort that continues today. Connecticut SAR, working alone or in partnership with other historical organizations and with the State of Connecticut, has erected such monuments in Lebanon, East Haven, East Haddam, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Groton, Redding, Westport, Windsor, Coventry, and Bennington, Vermont. The society also began marking the graves of Connecticut Revolutionary War veterans. Researchers can contact Connecticut SAR regarding the index of Revolutionary War veteran gravesites through the web site,

The Future of the Past
To celebrate 125 years of patriotic service, Connecticut SAR is launching a capital fund drive to build endowment for its museums and operations. “We are an all-volunteer-led organization,” says President Stephen Shaw. “Our Color Guard visits schools and attends community events around the state. But we need to ensure the upkeep of our historic buildings, and keep our society going for another 125 years. The history of the Revolution is America’s origin story. It will always be relevant, to all of us. We welcome everybody, because that inclusivity is the legacy of America’s fight for independence.”

About the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution is dedicated to remembering the lives and sacrifices of the patriots of the American Revolution. Its 600 members from throughout the United States have traced their ancestry to Connecticut patriots who gave service for American Independence. Its members in Connecticut regularly participate in Revolutionary War events and ceremonies, sponsor and conduct research, and preserve and operate three Connecticut museums—The War Office in Lebanon and the two Nathan Hale Schoolhouses, one in East Haddam, the other in New London.

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