President Dave Whaley called the meeting to order, the Rev. Sam Melton gave the Invocation, Hunter McLain led the pledge to the U.S. flag, and John Clines Sr. led the pledge to the Tennessee flag and the SAR.
The guests included two wives of members who attended for the first time, Virginia Venable and Carmen Davis; Joe White’s two daughters, Whitney and Mackencie; and two prospective members, Dr. Drew Bledsoe and Perry Skates.
There were no new members to be sworn in, since the chapter has gone to a policy of inducting new members quarterly (every three months). The next inductions will be in July.
Whaley awarded Judge C. Van Deacon a Certificate of Appreciation from the State Society for his fine job as chapter president of the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter for 2013.
There were two members participating in the “Pin the Patriot” program. Jimmy Kibler spoke on his Revolutionary War patriot, Jacob Keebler, who was born in Germany, came to America, moved to Washington County, N.C. (now in Tennessee), and fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Joe White told about his patriot’s father, John Lilly, who came to America, and his son Robert Lilly who moved to Summer County, Va. (now West Virginia), and founded the small town of Lilly. During the Revolutionary War, Robert furnished rifles to the Virginia troops.
White said Robert survived on the edge of the frontier by “Bible, axe and gun.” He said a dam was to be built and everyone in the town of Lilly was told to leave, and moved away. When the water came up, the town was still “high and dry” and is still referred to as the “lost town of Lilly.”
Whaley made several announcements, including the appointment of Sam Allen as chapter coordinator for the East Tennessee Historical Society’s project to list all Civil War soldiers in the cemeteries in Bradley County.
Whaley said he had already had 15 percent listed. He had found one black Union soldier’s grave. He also discovered that during the Civil War, there were 452 Confederate soldiers in Bradley County and 657 Union soldiers.
He announced the chapter executive committee reviewed the Wounded Warrior program with Bradley County Veterans director Larry McDaris, who spoke to the committee on which veteran programs he thought would be best for Bradley County.
McDaris reported two programs stood out in his opinion to best serve Bradley County, and they were 1) the group serving the founding of the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home, and 2) the Disabled Veterans Association. These are being reviewed by the committee.
Whaley announced the chapter will be having a grave dedication in Meigs County on Sept. 13, honoring the graves of two Revolutionary War soliders.
Whaley next spoke on the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter’s sponsored Grave Dedication for Revolutionary War soldier Joseph Lane, which was held on May 17, at the old Lee Cemetery near White Oak Road.
There were a number of patriotic groups participating, including other SAR chapters, Sons of the Revolution Color Guard, with Daughters of the American Revolution, and Children of the American Revolution chapters laying wreaths.
The Tennessee Society Color Guard under commander David Vaughn, assisted the local Color guardsmen; also, a large number of black powder muskets conducted a three-volley firing (21-gun salute).
State President of the Tennessee Society SAR Claude Hardison and State President of the Tennessee Society SR James D. Rivers offered greetings.
Family members of Pvt. Joseph Lane came from far distances — Robert Lane came from Palm Coast, Fla., Bill Jeffcoat from Jacksonville, Fla., and JoAnn McHenry Medlock from Arab, Ala.; three families from Georgia and three families from East Tennessee, including local Lane descendant, R.B. (Chip) Caylor from in Cleveland. Despite the rainy weather, there were 89 people in attendance.
Chip Caylor is the caterer at the Elks Club and for chapter meetings. He thanked the chapter for the fine grave dedication and how it was deeply appreciated by the family descendants. He also invited all to attend the Elks Club’s Flag Day ceremony June 14.
Stan Evans told about presenting the Bronze JROTC Medal to the worthy cadet from Bradley Central High School on Awards Night, May 10, for the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter.
Evans also spoke on the NSSAR Korean Service Corps and the Vietnam War Veterans Corps programs. He is the state adjutant for the Tennessee Society to both. These programs honor the military service of the SAR members who served in these two areas.
He stated that the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter rose to be the chapter with the most recognized in the Tennessee Society, with three for the Korean Service and 10 for the Vietnam Service. These members will be awarded their certificates at the September meeting.
The guest speaker and fellow chapter member Jerry Venable was introduced by Second Vice President Bill McClure, to present his PowerPoint presentation titled “Three Little Boys.”
This was the story of three frontier youth becoming men. They were Thomas Sumter, who later became a general; Benjamin Cleveland, who later was a colonel; and Joseph Martin, who became a colonel in the Revolutionary War and later a general.
Venable stated that in school most didn’t like “history” because of all dates and places to remember, but he loved history.
He related how three characters of the book “Peter Pan” — Peter, Tinker Bell and Wendy — worked on these three frontier youths in a way, and influenced some of the wild, crazy decisions they made in their behavior, as all three fought in the war. But, their real adventures began after the war.
First, Thomas Sumter went with four others to the Overhill country to verify that the Indians had quit fighting. This was a crazy move from the start. Instead of encountering fighting Indians, they found three of the Indian chiefs wanted to meet the king in London. So on “borrowed money,” Sumter financed the trip to England. But when they returned, Virginia denied reimbursement for the trip, and Sumter was sent to debtor’s prison.
So we can learn our first “Three Little Boys Principle”: “Don’t lend money to Thomas Sumter.”
Second, Joseph Martin appeared to be a natural-born salesman, always speculating. In 1777, he joined with Cleveland to provide security patrol for the signing of the Treaty of Long Island (now Kingsport). It appears he was a good friend of Virginia’s Gov. Patrick Henry, and Martin convinced the governor to make him the Indian agent where he could provide security.
Being the salesman that he was, Martin held the job for 12 years. In the meantime he convinced his wife, Sarah Lucus, that he had to marry a Cherokee to better maintain the peace. He somehow convinced her and he married Betsy Ward, daughter of Nancy Ward.
Well the first wife died, and while still married to his Cherokee wife, he convinced Susannah Graves, sister of Benjamin Cleveland’s wife, to marry him. So we can learn our second “Three Little Boys Principle”: “Don’t let your daughter marry Joseph Martin.”
And third, Benjamin Cleveland who did not like school or farm life, was always out hunting, fishing, exploring and doing anything except farming. He married in 1761, and developed great “skills” in gambling, drinking and horse-racing. He was so good that his father-in-law took his daughter and Cleveland from Virginia to Yadkin Valley, N.C., to get away from his “wayward” ways.
There he met Daniel Boone, who easily convinced Cleveland to go with him on a trip to this new frontier of Kentucky. They got as far as Cumberland Gap, where unfriendly Indians stole Cleveland’s horse and shoes. They barely made their way back to the Yadkin Valley.
After a couple of months, Cleveland gathered a group to make a trip back to get his horse. Near the Gap, he met an Indian chief named Big Bear who promised to take Cleveland to his horse. True to his word, he was led to the camp with his forceful group and got his horse. Later after the Battle of Kings’ Mountain, a Tory stole his prize horse which was Ferguson’s white horse and taken by Cleveland as “spoil of war.”
The Tory stole the horse to lure Cleveland into his trap, and sure enough the Tories captured Cleveland. But Cleveland’s brother Robert and others soon found them, and captured the Tories.
At the infamous “Tory Oak, the hanging oak, they were all tried, convicted and hung.” He said the third “Three Little Boy Principle” was “Don’t steal Benjamin Cleveland’s horse.”
After the three frontier youth finally matured, Sumter got out of jail, married well, got rich, and became a first-class soldier in turning Cornwallis away from Georgia and forcing him toward Virginia.
He was said to have fought like a “gamecock”; therefore, was given that nickname. He is remembered by: Fort Sumter, Sumter, S.C., and many other places, with the University of South Carolina having the name “Gamecocks” as their sports mascot.
Joseph Martin in 1783 resigned as Indian agent, left his Indian wife, took his children from the marriage back to Virginia, became a U.S. senator and later a general. He also has several places named for him including Martinsville, Va., and the Martinsville Speedway, site of NASCAR races.
Benjamin Cleveland was most famous as one of the four colonels at the Battle of King’s Mountain victory, and later as a judge in the Palmetto State. Many counties and town are named for him across the South, but the one we recognize as the best is our own town of Cleveland, and now there’s a Sons of the American Revolution chapter, the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter, here.
Venable finished by describing how one of the rescuers of Col. Cleveland from the Tories was Samuel McQueen and how he is a direct-line ancestor to him. He also showed how his wife, Virginia Jo, has ancestry back to patriots and Tories in the Revolutionary War. And with all that said, he said, “Now that’s why I like history!”
With no further business, President Whaley closed the meeting. He then led the recessional. The Rev. Sam Melton delivered the benediction. The closing gavel was struck and the meeting was adjourned.