President Van Deacon called the meeting to order. The invocation was given by the Rev. Sam Melton. The chapter Color Guard paraded the Colors, which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag by Deacon, the pledge to the SAR flag led by Phil Newman and the pledge to the Tennessee flag led by Dave Whaley.
The visitors attending this meeting from the John Sevier Chapter in Chattanooga were past state president and national trustee Charles Dammann, past state president and honorary member John Echerd, and from the Hiwassee Chapter was chapter President Jason Wright.
The DAR members of the Ocoee Chapter in Cleveland attending were Ellen McReynolds, Linda Joe Brock and Maggie Evans; and Judie Brock from the Chief John Ross Chapter. Also recognized were Zach Carpenter, Lisa Phillips, Ken Lewis, Lindsey Struck and Heather Carpenter, and the wives of members present. There was a total of 27 women present at the meeting. Prospective members were Ed Lay, Glen Martin and Matthew Dixon.
Deacon showed the group a miniature statue of Col. Benjamin Cleveland. Sculptor Josh Coleman is now producing them. This one was No. 001.
He next introduced musicians Zach Carpenter and Lisa Phillips from Lee University; with Lisa on the cello and Zach on the violin they entertained the group for a short time with some wonderful, soothing chamber music. Zach and Lisa continued to play throughout the meal.
Stanley A. Evans Sr., founder of the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter, was introduced by Deacon as the evening’s speaker.
Evans mentioned that when he lived in Ocala, Fla., and would attend the National SAR meetings, most of the folks from Tennessee and Kentucky kept asking, “When are you going to move up here where you belong?”
The Tennessee crowd finally won out, and in 2001 he and his wife, Maggie, moved to Cleveland. Once here, he saw that most of the families here were pioneer families going back to the Revolutionary War, and this was a “gold mine” for recruiting for the SAR, so in 2003 he organized the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter.
Evans introduced all of the chapter’s charter members who were present. Out of 48 original charter members there are only 26 who are still members of the chapter. Evans went on to discuss the “highlights” of the chapter’s first 10 years. They include:
• Chapter installation meeting, Dec. 5, 2003
In the first chapter meeting in January 2004, member Doug Carpenter stated several Northern states had April 19 as Patriots Day (this was the day of the “shot heard ‘round the world” which started the Revolutionary War), and asked why this couldn’t be done in Tennessee. So the first of four resolutions to achieve this goal was put forth. Also in that meeting, how to get the chapter to socially interface with the community was pondered. Since the Museum Center at Five Points had an exhibit planned honoring all “Veterans of the old Ocoee District,” the chapter decided to provide several actual Revolutionary War long rifles and other period items for the exhibit.
• The chaper volunteered to work at the Nancy Ward gravesite twice a year. The chapter worked its first time at the gravesite two months before it was a chapter. In October 2004 the chapter conducted its first gravesite dedication, this one for Revolutionary War soldier James Davis, in Snow Hill.
• Honored the Blue Star Mothers in 2005.
• Was part of the 225th Anniversary of “The Last Land Battle of the Revolution, which was a national event, on Lookout Mountain, commemorated in September 2007.
• In March 2008, Gov. Phil Bredesen signed the fourth resolution the chapter had been working on starting in 2004. This allowed Patriots Day to be on April 19 each year in the state of Tennessee.
Leading up to April 19, the Cleveland Daily Banner had coverage of this event from Thursday through Sunday. On April 19 the Tennessee Society SAR State president and Color Guard were invited to the Tennessee Senate chamber with the state president presenting an eloquent speech. This has continued each April 19 to the present. The first anniversary of this event in 2009 was celebrated at the Hermitage with a large number of chapter members present.
• In 2008 the Wreaths Across America program started for the National Society SAR, and the three local chapters, Col. Benjamin Cleveland, John Sevier and Hiwassee, were the first to initiate the program in Tennessee at Chattanooga National Cemetery, with the selling of wreaths to be laid honoring our veterans, and the participation in the formal military program, each year up to present.
• Planning was started on the Col. Benjamin Cleveland statue, 2009.
• The chapter conducted a grave dedication for Revolutionary War soldier Joseph Lusk at the Hannah farm, August 2009.
• Fundraising started for the Col. Benjamin Cleveland statue, 2009.
• The chapter initiated a living history program including members in continental and militia uniforms that was presented to the children of every school (elementary, middle and high schools) in Bradley County, a total of 27 schools. There was a total of 44 presentations performed from February through June 2009.
• The chapter was a main supporter of the 50th Anniversary program in Charleston, recalling the filming of the movie “Wild River” there.
• In 2010, the celebration for honoring the “Gathering at Sycamore Shoals” at Elizabethton was initiated. Honorary chapter member Echerd was one of the members responsible for this. This event is now a National event. Members from the chapter have been active participants every year at the event in September.
• The Inaugural Parade for Tennessee’s new governor, Bill Haslam, took place in Nashville in January 2011, with chapter members marching in the parade.
• At the National Congress of the National Society in Winston-Salem, N.C., in July 2011, the chapter received the President General’s Activities Award for being the best overall chapter in the National Society for chapter size, 50-99, for the year 2010. This is considered an unbelievable accomplishment.
• At the National Congress of the National Society, in Phoenix in July 2012, the chapter again received the President General’s Activities Award for being the best overall chapter in the National Society for its new size (100-199) for the year 2011. When you thought that it couldn’t get any better, then the chapter went on to win the award again, but in a larger category.
• And now in 2013 the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter had an unveiling of the Col. Benjamin Cleveland statue at a formal ceremony on a rainy April 19. Members of the statue committee were honored with awards by the Vice President General of the Southern District, the district in which the chapter resides. Then the statue was formally turned over to Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, and the city of Cleveland. This ended Evans’ talk.
Past President Brian Webb presented the “Stanley A. Evans Outstanding Service Award” this year to the two members who the past chapter presidents chose for their untiring service to the chapter in 2013. The recipients were Joseph E. Brock and C. Van Deacon.
Webb was the one who developed this special chapter award in 2006, presenting it then to its first recipient, Evans.
TNSSAR National Trustee Dammann praised the efforts of the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter over the past 10 years, and then proceeded to install the chapter officers for 2014. The elected/appointed officers were:
President: David L. Whaley
First Vice President: Robert L. George
Second Vice President: William M. McClure
Secretary: John A. Clines
Treasurer: William M. Hamilton
Genealogist/Registrar: E. Lynn Freeman
Chaplain: the Rev. Samuel D. Melton
Sergeant-at-Arms: James A. Cooke, Jr.
Historian: John Connor
Chancellor: William J. Brown
Installing officer Dammann presented the chapter gavel to incoming president Whaley, and placed the president’s neck-ribbon around his neck. As the newly installed chapter president, Whaley gave his speech about several new programs planned for the new year.
Newly elected President Whaley then thanked all for coming out and announced the next meeting will be held Jan. 9. He closed the meeting with Lynn Freeman leading the Recessional. Chaplain Melton gave the benediction, and the closing gavel was struck.