A Brief History Of The Frontier Patriots Chapter

   The Blair County Chapter was not the Bedford/ Blair/ Fulton/ Huntingdon County region's first chapter. It was preceeded by the Fort Bedford Chapter, which was formed on 01 October, 1913. There were thirteen charter members. The Pennsylvania Society recalled the charter of the Fort Bedford Chapter on 03 April, 1925 due to the fact that by that time the chapter had become inactive. The Blair County Chapter was also preceeded by the Logan Chapter, which was formed in 1929/30. On 20 February, 1930 the Pennsylvania Society presented the Logan Chapter's charter to the chapter's twelve members. The chapter continued in existence until 22 February, 1934.

   In November, 1946 ads began to appear in the local newspapers announcing the formation of a chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Twenty-two interested men met at the Penn Alto Hotel in Altoona on the 13th of December, 1946 to discuss the subject. A newspaper article published three days later acknowledged the assistance provided by the local DAR chapters (Colonel John Proctor, Adam Holliday and Fort Roberdeau).

   Officers were elected, and the aims of the chapter were outlined during a meeting held on 7 January, 1947. Morris W. Hazel was the chapter's first president and George B. Fleck was its first secretary - treasurer. Additional officers included: S. Palmer Carter (1st vice-president), Joseph R. Holliday (2nd vice-president), W. Ray Metz (3rd vice-president), Floyd G. Hoenstine (genealogist), John S. Seeds (historian), J, Foster Meck (chancellor), J. Howard Tobias (chaplain) and Charles A. Faris (registrar).

   The name Blair County Chapter was chosen to commemorate the name of John Blair, for whom the county was named. Although John Blair had not been a Patriot of the American Revolutionary War, the chapter chose to honor him in regard to his entrepreneurial spirit.

   The formal institution of the charter of the Blair County Chapter took place at a banquet held in the Logan Room of the Penn Alto Hotel in Altoona on the evening of 27 January, 1947. The charter was held open to applications and finally granted on 7 June, 1949 with sixty-nine members listed.

   The chapter was involved, during its early years, with a variety of social and educational programs, including the presentation of facsimile copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights to local schools. A program was undertaken to identify and decorate the gravesites of Patriots buried within the Bedford, Blair and Huntingdon counties region.

   Despite the anti-patriotic sentiment that pervaded the United States during the 1960s and early 70s, the Blair County Chapter kept right on track with its programs to promote patriotism. The presentation of R.O.T.C. medals to deserving cadets was one of the ways it did so.

   The restoration of Fort Roberdeau in Sinking Valley, Blair County was initiated by the Blair County Chapter on 14 August, 1973. The restoration of the structure was completed by 1979.

   A chapter newsletter was started in 1986 by Edgar R. Hartt, Esq. That first newsletter lasted only a couple years. Then, in December, 1990 the idea was again proposed by Mr. Hartt and Larry D. Smith agreed to undertake responsibility for it. In continual publication since the 1st Quarter of 1991, the chapter newsletter is devoted to presenting subjects of historical interest rather than just notices of chapter events. An ongoing history lesson, A Chronology Of The Revolutionary War - With Emphasis On Bedford County, Pennsylvania's Role is augmented by articles about events that took place in this local region. In certain newsletter issues, individual Patriots have been highlighted by biographical sketches.

   In 1992, Blair County Compatriot, Larry D. Smith was honored by being asked to redraw the seal of the Pennsylvania Society, SAR.

   During the 1950s and 60s Harry K. Woodcock accumulated a wealth of information documenting the gravesites of many of the Patriots buried within the four county region. His findings resulted in lists of names which were locked up in the chapter's secretary's files. On 24 March, 1990 the Graves Registration Committee was reactivated with the appointment of Larry D. Smith to the position of Gravesite Registration Chairman. Mr. Smith sorted through Mr. Woodcock's records and correlated the information with other lists, such as ones created by the chapter's previous historian, Floyd G. Hoenstine. The validity of the interred men's war service was checked for accuracy. The result was a listing of nearly 400 Patriots buried within the bounds of present-day Bedford, Blair, Fulton and Huntingdon Counties. The information on the Patriots buried within that region, in addition to those buried in Cambria and Somerset Counties was then included in the recently published book, Mother Bedford And The American Revoutionary War.

   During 2002 and 2003, with the threat of becoming inactive, and its members forced to become chapter-less, the Susquehanna Chapter (based in Clearfield, Pennsylvania) formally merged with the Blair County Chapter.

   On 25 August 2007, the Compatriot members of the Blair County Chapter voted, with only one dissenting vote, to change the name of the chapter from the Blair County Chapter to the Frontier Patriots Chapter. The name change was long overdue and desired by many of the members. The original name of Blair County was chosen to commemorate John Blair, who wasn't even a Revolutionary War Patriot! He was, rather, an entrepreneur who profited from business ventures in this region. When it was initially established, the name of the chapter reflected the specific region from which its members came. But over the years, with the dissolution of other chapters, such as the Bedford County Chapter, and the incorporation of those regions into that encompassed by the Blair County Chapter, the name was inaccurate and limiting. Therefore, a committee consisting of Larry D. Smith and Robert Trowbridge was created to identify what the chapter actually represented. The result was the creation of the name Frontier Patriots Chapter. The new name removed the geographical boundaries of the former, and was intended to reflect the fact that this region was part of the frontier that existed in western Pennsylvania during the period of the American Revolutionary War. The addition of the word Patriots was to honor all of the Patriots who resided in this region during the War and also those who, after the War, chose to make this region their homes.

 

 Note: The book, Mother Bedford And The American Revolutionary War, a more detailed account of the history of the Blair County Chapter (along with the most extensive history of Old-Bedford County during the Revolution published to date) can be purchased from the Closson Press.