Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Virginia

Society of Colonial Wars
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Photos of the 2017 Fall Court
Photos of the 2018 Fall Court
Photos of the 2019 Cy Nicholas Luncheon
Photos of the 2019 General Society Saturday Social
Photos of the 2019 Spring Court
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History of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Virginia

On 28 June 1894 a group of distinguished Virginians gathered at the State Capitol Building in Richmond to organize the Virginia Chapter of the Society of Colonial Wars. There were sixteen original members of the Virginia Society. Joseph Bryan was the first Governor and Gustavus A. Walker the first Deputy Governor. A charter from the General Society was received on 12 November 1894. The Virginia Society held its first Court on 20 December at the headquarters of the Virginia Historical Society.

House of Delegates Bill H037 of the 1895-1896 session of the Virginia General Assembly gave the Society its charter and inspiration. This charter established the purpose of the Society to perpetuate and honor the “memory of the men who assisted in establishing the Colonies of America, and imperiled their lives and interests”.

The Society was active at the Tercentennial at Jamestown in 1907 and continued so until the death of Mr. Bryan in 1908 when it became dormant until it was reorganized in 1913. In the years following World War I, the General Society and the State Societies were revived with new life and energy.

James Alston Cabell was elected Governor of the Virginia Society in 1913 and served until 1929. He was succeeded by Dr. Alexander Gustavus Brown, who was the first Virginian to be an officer of the General Society, and was Governor General from 1945 to 1948.

In May 1935 Virginia was host to the General Council of the Society held in Williamsburg. Again in May 1945 Virginia was host, this time to the Seventeenth
General meeting at Richmond and Williamsburg. For a third time, in May 1966, Virginia was honored as host, when the Twenty-fourth General Assembly gathered at Richmond. Major General William Tompkins was Chairman, under the governorship of William R. Gardner. The General Society recorded “its gratitude for the manifest kindness and hospitality of the Virginia Society”.

On May 28th through May 30th 1981, Virginia was again host to the “Regular Meeting” of the General Society in Williamsburg. The then Governor, Russell Cecil Scott, ably handled this with charm and ability.

The Council of the Virginia Society conducts its affairs through regular meetings. The Spring Court is held annually as near May 13th as appropriate to commemorate the Jamestown landing.

Russell Cecil Scott became only the second Virginian to be elected to the position of Governor General, serving 1993-1996. The Virginia Society was host to the 95th General Council Meeting in May 1998. Its chair, Cannon Hobson Goddin, former Governor of the State Society, was instrumental in gathering a team that performed a task of hosting a conference that will be remembered for years to come.

To meet the responsibilities set forth in its charter, the Virginia Society has contributed to the restoration and acquisition of documents, publications and portraits pertaining to Colonial Wars. The Society has been active in marking and preserving historic sites of Colonial War significance, donated a stand of four Colonial Colors to Colonial Williamsburg, rebuilt the Gates and Gate House at Stratford, and gave the Chancel Rail in the restored Jamestowne Church (and a horse watering trough near the church).

The Virginia Society has in the past offered awards to outstanding students of history and annually contributed financial support for education about colonial history to organizations such as the Virginia Historical Society, Wilton Museum House, Henricus Foundation and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.

In addition to its Spring Court of Warriors and their ladies, the Virginia Society sponsors annually a Fall Court for Warriors and gentlemen guests, which includes the primary business meeting of the membership. The interest in the Society is reinforced by the submission of articles for publication in The Gazette of the General Society.

The Virginia Society is in the first decade of the second century with an active membership that continues to provide strong support for the Society and its goals. The Society hosted the General Assembly meeting held in Jamestown and Williamsburg in 2007, the 400th Anniversary of the establishment of the Colony in 1607. The great success of this meeting was due to the careful planning and management of Francis Claiborne Johnston, Jr., Lieutenant Governor of the Virginia Society.

           In 2009 the Virginia Society funded the publication through the Virginia Genealogical Society of a book titled The Effects of the French and Indian War on Civilian Life in the Frontier Counties of Virginia, 1754–1763 by Chester R. Young.

            In 2012 the society decided to hold a mid winter luncheon in Richmond at the Commonwealth Club. The event was spearheaded by Past Governor Cy Nicholas who wished to revive the annual luncheon that was originally held by the society in prior years. The Virginia Society was saddened by the passing of Governor Nicholas on the very day of the luncheon and decided to name the luncheon in his honor. The Society continues to this day to hold the Cy Nicholas Luncheon every February.      

            In 2013 the Virginia Society (with financial assistance from the General Society) restored the tablets originally placed by the General Society in 1936 at Stratford Hall. Stratford Hall is the ancestral home of the Lee family. The two matching bronze tablets (one on the exterior and one on the interior) at the gatehouse honor Thomas Lee and reflect the role of the General Society of Colonial Wars role in the original restoration of the mansion in 1936.

         On March 22, 2014 the Society erected (with financial assistance from the General Society) a granite marker at Henricus Historical Park on the James River below Richmond to commemorate the Indian Massacre that took place on March 22, 1622. The surprise attack was a coordinated effort by the Powhatan Indians against English settlements along the James River. Over one quarter of the English population died in the attack, including men, women and children. The ceremony was attended by representatives from various Virginia hereditary and historical organizations as well as descendants of the victims, who laid wreaths at the marker. The ceremony produced a large turnout, and local media covered the event.

            Starting in 2014, the Virginia Society began co-hosting an Oyster Roast with the Sons of the Revolution in the Commonwealth of Virginia at Ft. Pocahontas, which is adjacent to Sherwood Forest Plantation on the James. In 2016 the location was changed to Wilton House and The National Society of the Colonial Dames of American in the Commonwealth of Virginia joined the Warriors and Sons to co-host the event.