For the first time in at least recent memory, members of one of the state’s oldest historical societies gathered in Seymour.
Conducted Saturday at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Seymour, the Winter House of Delegates of the Indiana Society of the Sons of the American Revolution brought in more than 30 members from 16 chapters.
Established in 1889, the society’s mission is to promote and preserve the knowledge of the achievement of American independence and to foster fellowship among its members.
About five members of Jackson County’s only chapter were in attendance. The chapter is named after David Benton, one of at least 39 Revolutionary War veterans buried in Jackson County. Benton served in a Berkshire County, Massachusetts, regiment during the Revolutionary War and then moved to Brownstown in 1819. He died March 7, 1845, and is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Brownstown.
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One of the chapter’s responsibilities is to operate Indiana War Graves projects in Jackson, Jennings, Ripley, Dearborn and Scott counties.
The president of the local organization said conducting the meeting in Seymour was nice because it meant members from the chapter from didn’t have to travel a far distance for once.
“Normally we only have one to two that go to a (state) meeting, but I think we have five of our chapter members here today,” Jerry Brown of Seymour said.
The state meeting, conducted four times a year in different locations, allows members to not only conduct business but to promote a common sense of heritage together.
To be a member, one must be a male descendent of a person who has served in the military during the Revolutionary War.
“Each of the chapters have worked to educate the public about our founding documents, our founding fathers and the founding of country,” state president Bill Sharp said.
Sharp is an Ann Arbor, Michigan, resident who used to live in Fort Wayne. He said he continued his membership in Indiana because he met so many friends through the organization.
He said each chapter around the state works to be involved in its community while also offering a historical lesson to people members meet along the way.
“They go into the schools, participate in public ceremonies, parades, grave dedications, grave markings, talks to civic organizations — it’s education to the public and to preserve the patriotic fervor of the country,” Sharp said.
The local chapter, established in 1998, just finished up a holiday drive that collects items for veterans at the Louisville VA Medical Center. The group sent everything from books to clothing to toiletries.
Brown said he became a member about five years ago because his mother was a part of the Daughters of the American Revolution. His ancestral tie to the war is Louis Payton, his great-great-great-great-grandfather.
Each month, the group of about 15 members meets and there’s generally a special speaker. They also try to hand out flag certificates to those who proudly display the American flag.
“We all have the same friends, goals and ideals,” Brown said of the organization.
During Saturday’s event, the color guard presented the American flag, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the organization’s oath.
Wearing a militia outfit with drop-front pants, a vest and a cocked hat with a feather, Robert Cunningham, a Bloomington resident, was one who helped with the stars and stripes.
As the state’s color guard commander, he wanted to use the meeting to not only celebrate our country but to recruit folks to join him — particularly younger people.
“It’s a problem,” the 78-year-old said. “I look around, and we’re all older.”
To be in the organization’s color guard, one has to be a part of the state organization. Cunningham said each chapter is always looking for new members.
Darrell Scifres, a member of the David Benton Chapter, said he admits it’s not an easy process to research and find an ancestor to be able to join.
But the Scottsburg resident also said it’s well worth it.
He began the process after he received a packet of papers from a family member, which offered him a connection to his ancestry. He then began his two-year search and found Jacob Young, his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, who was a teenage drummer during the war.
He also discovered his ancestry line consists of former president, Harry S. Truman.
“It was really informative,” he said with a smile. “It gets more interesting as you go along.”
Scifres encourages those who are interested in joining the chapter to visit the genealogy area of their local libraries, ask questions and make copies of anything they find related to their ancestry.
He said he relied on the library in Seymour and in Brownstown.
“The people there were really helpful; it’s a good start,” he said.
Scifres also said the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution is located in Louisville, and they can be of assistance.
Allen Dillman, an Elizabethtown resident, is a two-year member who found his connection to the war after visiting the library and talking with family members who live all over the country during reunions.
He discovered his Revolutionary War connection was Andrew Dillman, his great-great-great-great-grandfather who was a soldier from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“We’ve even had some Dillmans go back to Germany to find out more about the ancestors,” Allen Dillman said.
As a member of the David Benton Chapter, he said the historical commonality among the group is what’s kept him involved and interested.
“We all have the same goal, and we all have the same background in genealogy and history of the American Revolution,” he said.
For information on the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, visit jlbrown1.dotster.com/index.html.
To find the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier buried in Jackson County or around the state visit graves.inssar.org.
“We all have the same goal, and we all have the same background in genealogy and history of the American Revolution,” Allen Dillman, an Elizabethtown resident said.