Pensacola Chapter History

The Pensacola Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution has the distinction of being the first chapter established in the State of Florida.  

The Pensacola Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution was organized by a thirty-eight year old Pennsylvania native stationed at the Pensacola Navy Yard in 1896.  A Lieutenant James Henry Bull found several descendants of Revolutionary Patriots who were interested in a Florida Society and with support from the Editor of the Pensacola Daily News, Charles Augustus Choate, who printed several notices in the daily paper, set up a meeting at the law office of the Honorable Jno. C. Avery on March 14, 1896.

Fifteen applicants submitted credentials for Charter membership and before year's end, a total of twenty-two had been accepted.

The Pensacola Chapter was the first SAR Chapter in the state of Florida, and the roster included many surnames familiar today.  The Charter members included: Lt. James Henry Bull, William H. Milton, Jr., William O.H. Shepard, John Campbell Avery, Charles Augustus Choate, William Thomas Cogswell, James Shirley Hope, Albert Minor Avery, Arthur Aylett Brown, Albert Lord Avery, Charles Wiley Ballard, William C. Howes, William LaFayette Perkins, Samuel G. Thomas, Nathan Robertson Winship, William Howard Bigelow, William Thrower Shepard, William Elston Taylor, Charles Frances Cogswell, John Alfred Blanche Cogswell, Benjamin C. Tunison, and William Swift Keyser.

For nearly four decades from 1896 to 1930, the chapter in Pensacola was the only Sons of the American Revolution Chapter in Florida.  Regular meetings were held annually on Washington's Birthday and new officers were elected to serve for the succeeding year.  The first meeting was held in the dining room of the Hotel Escambia (formerly the home of Col. William Chase).  John Campbell Avery was Chapter President from 1896 to 1904. William Swift Keyser served from 1905 to 1907. Dr Frank Gale Renshaw led from 1907 to 1908. John Hobart Cross was President from 1908 to 1915. Dr. Renshaw was re-elected in 1915 and also served as State President until 1932.

Thus began the long history of Florida's first SAR chapter. 

 

Past Florida State Society Presidents from the Pensacola Chapter

 

James Alexander Austin                  1941-1942

James Field Wardlaw                      1940-1941

Frank Gale Renshaw                       1915-1930

John Hobart Cross                          1908-1915

Frank Gale Renshaw                       1907-1908

William Swift Keyser                       1905-1907

John Campbell Avery                      1898-1904

James Henry Bull                           1896-1897