Thomas Jefferson Chapter Sons of the American Revolution

The History of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter 

      The Thomas Jefferson Chapter was organized on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 o'clock, February 4, 1939 at the old Dolly Madison Inn, West Main Street, Charlottelsville, Virginia.   William MacFarlane Jones, Past President of the Virginia Society, and at that time Secretary of the Virginia Society, attended the meeting and proposed the name, Thomas Jefferson, for the chapter, which proposal was adopted unanimously.

     The following officers were then elected; Paul B. Barringer, MD, President emeritus for life, Randolph H. Perry, President; Edgar Bradley, Jr. Vice President; Joseph Kent Roberts, Corcoran and Roger's Professor of Geology at the University of Virginia, who sponsored the chapter, Secretary-Treasurer; Linwood H. Warwick, Registrar  James H. Hart, Historian; The Reverend William Kyle Smith, Chaplain; Board of Managers; W. M. McGill; Professor W. A. Nelson; Benjamin Franklin Dewees Runk.

     Five meetings were held in 1939, which set the pattern for activities of the chapter in the decades to follow.  A Constitution and By-Laws were adopted which were identical to those of the Richmond Chapter except for a change in the number constituting a quorum (5).  Dues to the State Society were $5.00 in 1939, of which $1.00 came back to the chapter.  It was decided to have the April meeting as near as possible to April 13 (Mr. Jefferson's birthday and Founder's day at the University) to have the  "Annual Dinner" at that time, and to make it the chapters major celebration of the year, with State Officers of the SAR and local DAR invited.  The first "Annual Dinner" was held in the Parish House of Christ Episcopal Church on January 17, 1940, and was attended by VASSAR President, W. Irving Gilkeson of Norfolk, VASSAR Secretary William MacFarlane Jones of Richmond, the Regents of the Albermarle, Jack Jouett, and Shadwell Chapter, DAR and local compatriots and guest to make a total of 39.  Printed programs were at each place.  The second 'Annual Dinner", at the Farmington Country Club on April 14, 1941, had an assemblage of 26, including VASSAR Secretary Jones, Compatriot John G. Quarles of the Richmond Chapter, and two DAR Regents.

     As with many chapters, when initial enthusiasm waned, attendance fell off.  Between 6 and 14 members attended regular meetings during the war years, and 20 - 30 attended the "Annual Dinner" meetings.  The number of meetings also dwindled from five in 1939 to three in 1940, one in 1941, two in 1942, three in 1943, three in 1944, two in 1945, and one in 1946.  On March 11, 1947, it was decided to adopt a calendar of regularly scheduled meetings to fall as near as possible to April 13th, October 19th (Patriot's Day), December 15th (Bill of Rights day), and February 15th (one week before George Washington's birthday).  On February 18th, 1948, with only eight present  it was decided to have cocktails before the next dinner meeting as a possible means of increasing attendance   This strategy apparently worked. because 41 compatriots and guest attended the Annual Jefferson Day Dinner on April 14, 1948. 

On September 21 -22, 1962, the Thomas Jefferson Chapter was host for the first time to a Semi-Annual meeting of the Virginia Society. It was held at the Monticello Hotel, with a luncheon at Farmington Country Club. On January 25, 1963, Compatriot Charles R Haugh was appointed Membership Chairman. He accomplished the phenomenal feat of adding 23 new members to the chapter's roll of 29 members during the twelve month period, setting a record for both State and National Societies. The Chapter exceeded 100 members by 1993.

    In 1972, the chapter won the Allene Wilson Groves Award at the National Congress.  This award is given to the chapter, which presents the most evidence of implementing SAR resolutions and principles.  This award was won by the Chapter primarily due to the fine reporting of the Chapter's activities by Captain Albert Benjamin in a scrapbook and photo album.  The Chapter was also recognized as the best large chapter in Virginia in 2006 and 2007 through the leadership of Dr. H. Phillips Williams III. 

     Over the years the Thomas Jefferson Chapter has had one Compatriot become National  President General, one become National Chaplain General, and six were Virginia State Society Presidents.  Today the Chapter continues to have five scheduled meetings per year and five Board of Manager meetings.  Three of the meetings are breakfasts and two are dinner meetings.  Our December dinner meeting, a black tie event, which honors our ladies and we also hold a open Garden Party in the late summer.

      In the year 2011 The Thomas Jefferson Chapter continued to be a vital and vibrant organization.  Evidence of our success can be found in the awards, recently received from the State Society, for participants in the Knight Essay Contest, Health Professional of the Year Award, and other chapter sponsored programs. 

       An important event in the History of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter, which also took place in 2011, was the election of Past Thomas Jefferson Chapter  President, Dr. H. Phillips Williams III,  to the position of 1st Vice President of the State Society.  Dr. Williams, will now stand for election as President of the Virginia Society in 2012.  In preparation for Dr. Williams tenure as Virginia Society President, the Thomas Jefferson Chapter began planning for the  Virginia Society Semi-Annual meetings, which will be held in Charlottesville during the month of September 2012. 

     In 2012 the 87 members of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter mark their 73rd year of service to the community.  The new year brought  a changing of the guard as Compatriot Mark R. Day relieved Compatriot Patrick Kelly, who served in the position of Chapter President for more than three years.  2011 Compatriot Kelly was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in March of 2011 by VASSAR 1st Vice President Williams.  As 2012 began the chapter also saluted compatriot Jock Fiery for his dedication to the goals of the SAR by presenting him a Citizenship Award for his service to the Chapter.     

     In June 2012, the President General of the National Society was in Charlottesville for the annual SAR Conference on American History.   Members of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter leadership were invited to a reception, in honor of the President General,  at the home of VASSAR President Williams.  The following day a private wreath laying ceremony was conducted for the President General at the grave of Thomas Jefferson on the grounds of Monticello. 


     September saw the Thomas Jefferson Chapter acting as the host for the VASSAR Semi-annual meetings for the first time in many years.  The meetings were held at the Holiday Inn University and universally hailed by the attendee's as a great success.  As part of the concluding recognition and awards ceremony TJ Compatriot Geoff Cobham  received a commendation, from the state society, for his efforts in coordinating the Semi-annual.

     2012 concluded with the annual "Ladies Night" and Black Tie dinner, which was held at the Greencroft Club.  After the dinner the chapter awarded certificates and medals for Heroism, Eagle Scout, and Teacher of the Year.

      Our Chapter has been and continues to be an important part of Charlottesville's heritage and we are dedicated to the preservation of our history.  To ensure that future generations will have access to the Chapter's records, we have arranged for them to be held for posterity in the manuscripts Division of Alderman Library at the University of Virginia. 

     In 2013 the Thomas Jefferson chapter continued to excel.  The year began with a the chapters State Society Hero and Teacher of the Year nominee's winning those completions at the VASSAR annual meeting.  The  nominee's Mr. Chubby Profit, a veteran of the Second World War and the Teacher Mr. Scott Mace were both presented their awards in a ceremony in the Virginia State Capital building.  In March the Chapter honored these two distinguished gentlemen at our breakfast meeting.  

     In April the members of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter joined with the Culpeper Chapter  among others to attend the annual Graves Mountain joint meeting and at that time presented a certificate of appreciation to Compatriot Tom Conner, for his dedicated service as Treasurer of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter.   April also saw the Chapter participate in celebrating the birthdays of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. 

      Perhaps the most exciting event of the year took place on July 4th when the Thomas Jefferson Chapters  Color Guard was asked to provide their services for the annual naturalization ceremony being held at Monticello.  The Color Guard did a magnificent job and is expected to continue to perform this duty in coming years.  
     The fall brought a return to the cycle of meetings and the Board of Mangers meet at the mountain top retreat of Compatriot Harvey Hague to plan begin the planning for 2014.  In September the annual garden party was a huge success and several new members were inducted.  In fact 2013 was a banner year for new members who are quickly becoming engaged in the business of the chapter.
      Sadly, 2013 also meant saying farewell to several compatriots and friends who passed on to their final reward.  As the year was ending the chapter suffered  a sudden loss  with the passing of Past Chapter President and State President The Rev. Ramsey Richardson.   Ramsey was a friend and and counsel to many of our current leaders and his guidance will be greatly missed. 
     On the 5th of December the Chapter ended the year in its traditional manner by hosting the Annual Ladies Night Dinner.  During the dinner program the wives of Past Presidents Ken Wallenborn, Phil Williams, and Patrick Kelly as well as the wife of current President Mark Day were presented the Lydia Darragh Medal for the support they provided to their husbands.  We also recognized the Naval ROTC program and presented our citizenship award for 2013.
       2014 will be the diamond anniversary of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter. Building on those seventy-five years of service, to our community, we will be lead once more by President Mark Day, who was approved by the BOM for a third term as president and one of our newest compatriots Mr. Robert Short who will serve as Vice President.   The year 2014 started of with the Presentation of the Chapter Hero Award to Mr. David A. Maurer, a Vietnam veteran who saw service with the Green Berets.  
     In April the chapter was well represented at the Graves Mountain seven chapter meeting, with President Day reporting on the chapters activities and that same month the chapter was  represented at the birthday ceremony for President Jefferson at Monticello. 
     In late May the chapter took part in both the Charlottesville, and Lynchburg Memorial Day ceremonies.  
     In June, during the chapter breakfast meeting, we hosted the DAR Chapter regents from Shadwell, Albemarle, and Jack Jouett and heard a wonderful program on the Childhood of Thomas Jefferson.  
     As September arrived and fall began, we once again held our Annual Board of Managers retreat at Harvey Hague s "High Ground" and enjoyed the camaraderie of the annual Garden party, which was held at the home of compatriot Mark Chapman.
     With 2014 coming to an end we morned the loss of Compatriot Admiral Tom Bass and began preparing for the final event of the year, our annual Ladies Night Black Tie Dinner, which was held in December.  VASSAR President Bill Brodus was the guest speaker for the evening and he gave the oath of office to the newly elected officers for 2015.  The gavel was passed from outgoing Chapter President Mark Day to incoming Chapter President Robert T. Short and Past President Day was awarded his Past Presidents Pin along with a Roger Sherman Medal for his service to the Chapter.
     The years between 2015 and 2016 granted the chapter both success, as it continued to grow and become more involved in the work of the Society and sadness as President Short's term was prematurely ended by his sudden passing.  Past Chapter President Phil Williams stepped up to complete Bob's term and eventually Compatriot Mackey Tilman rose to become the Chapter President  in 2017. 
     Inevitably there were other significant losses from the ranks of the older membership due to death but the chapters ranks were also gaining new and younger members who have picked up the mantle of leadership. In 2018 Colonel James O'Kelley, USMC ret. was elected President and he has proven to be a positive force. President O'Kelley represented the chapter at more than 20 events and oversaw the first patriot grave marking hosted by the chapter in many years.   2018 also saw the election of Past Chapter President Patrick Kelly to the office of President of the Virginia Society.  Compatriot Kelly is the eighth member of the chapter to hold that high office. 

Items of Historical Note in the history of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter

On November 3rd 2018 the Thomas Jefferson Chapter held a Grave Marking for Captain William Harris.  This was the first Grave Marking the Chapter had made in many years and was attended by both SAR and DAR dignitaries.
 In 2012 the Chapter was responsible for placing a State Historical Marker, see article below,  at the site where the Convention Army was quartered in Albemarle County.  Below is a link to the local news story done on the event.
In 2012 Chapter Member Dr. Phil Williams (pictured in the center of the image below) was elected and served as President of the Virginia Society.  Dr. Williams was the seventh compatriot from the Thomas Jefferson Chapter to serve in that capacity

The Joint VASSAR and TJ Chapter Flag Certificate Ceremony, pictured above, in recognition of the University of Virginia conducted on the 31st of March 2012 was the first event of its kind. 

 Newly installed Thomas Jefferson Chapter President Mark Day {center} stands with VASSAR President Mark Brennan {right} and Past Chapter President Pat Kelly {left} for photo's during the Thomas Jefferson Chapter Ladies Night program at the Greencroft Club hled on December 1, 2011

During the April 16th breakfast meeting theThomas Jefferson Chapter presented the Law Enforcement Award to Lt. Wendy Lewis of the Charlottesville Police Department.  The event was significant being the first time the Law Enforcement Award has been presented to a woman in the long history of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter