Gen. Joseph Bartholomew Chapter
At a meeting in 1974 of the Board of Managers of the Illinois Society, Sons of the American Revolution, the state president, Leslie A. Bryan, suggested the expanding of chapters throughout the state. At that time the closest chapters to Bloomington/Normal were Stephen Decatur in Decatur and Piankeshaw in Champaign/Urbana. The latter I had joined in 1968. At this meeting Dr. Robert G. Bone, who was the Illinois Society Historian and I, a member of the Board of Managers, were asked to take leadership in the organizing of a new chapter. The Board decided which counties would be included in this chapter. Later as Bob and I talked about the various steps necessary for this to happen, Les Bryan, who lived in Champaign/Urbana was of great help. He provided us with a list of state members living in the designated counties. Bob and I divided this list and began making personal and telephone connections.
We added a few other persons to help recruit members. These were formed into an Executive Committee that had a planning meeting on April 22, 1975 at William Anderson’s office. We took a lot of good-natured ribbing about the location of this meeting. Bill was the current McLean County Coroner.
You can read more in the wonderful book, that was issued by our chapter in 2010, about the subsequent meetings of the committees that were formed and the areas of work that were needed in order to get to the Charter Night, October 21, 1975. By the time that we got to that event we had nearly 60 persons who were either listed on the charter application form or who expressed an interest in filing out membership applications.
The Charter event was held in the 1857 Room at Illinois State University. The room was beautifully decorated around a Revolutionary War era theme. The round tables provided those gathered around them with an opportunity to engage in visiting before the evening program. Among the various State Society dignitaries present were Les Bryan, President ILSSAR, and Len Young Smith, the past President General, NSSAR, who presented Dr. Bone with our Charter.
As a personal note, Len and his wife, Helen, were personal friends of mine. I arranged for housing for Len. Because of her schedule, Helen had not been about to accompany him. Doris and I were to pick him up in time to get him to the evening celebration. Around the middle of the afternoon I got a telephone call from Helen asking me go by Len’s room a little early to make sure that he was ready and that he was wearing the correct necktie, and that it was tied correctly. Later that evening I was able to report back to her that all was well and that the evening had been a great success.
Another paragraph from the 2010 book gives a good overview of the growing years following our chartering. “The chapter met monthly, and the group met for a period time at Dr. Bone’s home. Later they met at Streid’s Restaurant and then for years held a 6:30 a.m. breakfast meeting in a small meeting room at the Brandtville Restaurant.” I was a member of this chapter until I moved to Springfield in 1982. I transferred my membership to the Springfield Chapter that year. My connection with the General Joseph Bartholomew Chapter was renewed when I moved back to Bloomington/Normal in 2002. Unless a new member has become part of our chapter since the book was issued, I hold the “honor” of holding the earliest SAR membership numbers. I am NSSAR #96943 and ILSSAR #5225. In other words that comes down to, “I am really old!”
Contributed by Ron Bogart