Always standing out in a crowd wearing their late 18th century-style military uniforms, color guard units from nearby chapters of Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) are a common sight at patriotic events throughout the country.
While the color guards in their antiquated dress firing volley salutes with black powder rifles is easily the most visible aspect of SAR, the group also works to recognize youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and Junior ROTC programs, and also police, firefighters and other first responders.
However, membership in Greenville’s SAR chapter, the Ambassador Fletcher Warren chapter gradually dwindled over the years until it became inactive.
Despite this, SAR members from nearby chapters are currently serving as acting officers in the Greenville chapter as they work to get it reinstated.
“We work to promote patriotism and support the youth by hosting several different contests, like an oration contest, as well as recognizing outstanding JROTC students and Eagle Scouts,” said Bill Hurst, of Bonham, who is serving as registrar for the Greenville chapter. “We also recognize outstanding history teachers and law enforcement, so it helps if we have members who are local and will know who needs to be recognized.”
While Greenville’s SAR chapter is currently inactive, the group has still been participating in community events in Greenville, such as helping Maye Pickens celebrate her 100th birthday at Webb Hill Country Club last week — a function they shared with the Brig. General Edward Bulkley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Greenville.
Another aspect of SAR that many of its members enjoy is sharing stories with other history and genealogy buffs.
To be a member of SAR, a man has to be able to trace his lineage back to an individual who supported the American Revolution in some way. Of course, when one researches their family history, each generation going back doubles in size (four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents, etc.), making the process challenging and time consuming.
For this reason, members of SAR often help prospective members with research into their family history.
“What we need to do is trace a family line to a patriot,” said Terry Holden, the registrar for the SAR chapter in Sherman. “A patriot could have, of course, been a soldier, but could have also been someone who provided supplies or food to people fighting for the cause...or they could have simply paid taxes to their state or signed an oath of allegiance.
“We search for and pull documents to help find connections between families and a patriot. We look up records of births, marriages and deaths, and also property deeds,” Holden added. “The internet has helped a lot, with the digitizing of collections.”
With genealogy being a key component to SAR, the members often enjoy sharing interesting details about their ancestors.
“This is kind of embarrassing, because of how it sounds, but I’ve been able to trace my lineage to an ancestor who was a second cousin to George Washington, and they played together as children,” Hurst said. “His name was Colonel William Washington, and he fought in the Battle of Trenton, then was sent south with his cavalry unit. There’s actually a painting showing him sword fighting with the British officer, Banastre Tarleton [at the Battle of Cowpens].
“Another one of my ancestors, named Charlie Clark, was 80 years old when he let soldiers spend the night in his house after the Battle of Trenton,” Hurst continued. “He actually died that night, when he was tending the fire to keep them warm and fell into the fire. There are so many different ways that people became patriots during the revolution.”
The organization’s members have also enjoyed learning about what their revolutionary era ancestors did after the war.
“I have an ancestor, David Wilson, who fought in the Battle of King’s Mountain, but he later moved to Tennessee, where he helped establish the government,” said Ted Wilson, the district vice president for SAR. “Wilson County, in Tennessee, is named after him.”
While a passion for history is something that many in the organization share, SAR members in Northeast Texas are looking forward to being able to serve the Hunt County area more regularly, by reinstating Greenville’s local chapter.
Those interested in learning more about SAR, or would like help with genealogical research, may contact Bill Hurst at 903-227-4723 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org