History

Harris Ferry SAR

“For a people who are free, and mean to remain so, a well organized & armed militia is their best security.” – Thomas Jefferson, Eighth Annual Message to Congress, November 8, 1808

Harris Ferry Chapter Sons of the American Revolution - Harrisburg, PA
Revolutionary War Minuteman, Lexington Green, Lexington, MA. Credit: Robert Bakelaar, 2008.

Harris Ferry Chapter of SAR was established in 1940, re-born upon the ashes of the Society's earlier "Harrisburg Chapter" which had been instituted in 1927, only to lapse into inactive status shortly thereafter.

In January, 1940, an informal meeting was held in the Pittsburgh office of Former Governor John S. Fisher, then president of the Pennsylvania Society of SAR, to consider reactivation of a chapter at Harrisburg. Shortly thereafter, at a Harrisburg meeting held at the Dauphin County Historical Society, and chaired by Judge John E. Fox, there were 54 prospective members present, and LTC John Mel Smith was named to chair a chapter organizing committee.

With a total of 199 charter members, Harris Ferry Chapter was officially chartered by SAR on May 9, 1940, at an institution dinner held in Harrisburg at the Zembo Mosque. The then Governor of Pennsylvania, Arthur H. James, was guest speaker at the dinner, and Colonel Smith was installed as the chapter's first full term president.

The National Society of SAR. was organized 51 years earlier on April 30, 1889, and incorporated by an Act of Congress on June 9, 1906, as a non-profit, non-secret, non-political organization of male descendants of Patriots who, during the American Revolution, rendered unwavering loyal service to the cause of American Independence.

During its first 100 years the Society attained an over-all membership of over 132,000 Sons in 50 states and worldwide, and more than 350 local and regional chapters. From its inception, the SAR has been dedicated to patriotic, historical and educational objectives to help perpetuate understanding of, reverence for, and preservation of the institutions of American freedom as delineated in the Preamble of the United States Constitution.

The Pennsylvania State Society of SAR was organized at a meeting in Pittsburgh in 1893, and the state society's first annual meeting was held there February 22, 1894, at the Duquesne Club. During its first 100 years the Pennsylvania State Society's membership reached an all time total of over 10,000 Sons and as many as 28 chapters.