The National Sons of the American Revolution was formed in 1876 by John Austin Stevens, who envisioned a hereditary social group. In 1889, William Osborn McDowell formed a similar group and decided to expand it to be a mass movement of descendants of Revolutionary patriots as opposed to a more closed social club that Stevens had formed. Additionally, McDowell was instrumental in forming the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution in 1890. A chapter of that organization thrives in Nevada.
There are many local residents who embellish the Spirit of ’76 and the Sons of the American Revolution. But not all of them dress for the occasion. Gary B. Parriott is an exception, however. He is a proud member and officially dresses the part.
“I started doing some research a few years ago, and I ultimately figured out there was a sergeant that served in a Revolutionary battalion that was actually my fourth great-grandfather. He had quite a career that was well-documented,” Parriott explained. “Subsequent to that research, I ended up joining the hereditary organization.”
Parriott was eligible to join because he was a direct blood descendant, and more than that, he “was a direct male descendant,” he proudly said.
The soldier’s surname (first name Christopher) was spelled slightly differently. But having survived and passed down through the decades, it was close enough for Parriott to be able to legitimately trace it to his own spelling with the help of a genealogist. And he found that his ancestral granddad got around.
“I’m quite certain that Christopher would have seen George Washington,” Parriott said, “because there is a record that he was at Valley Forge. He was actually considered part of the Continental Army.”
Parriott said that the Army was a more structured organization as opposed to state militias.
Parriott worked overseas for the Department of Defense as a civilian for many years before moving to Nevada. When he decided to trace his heritage, he said “It took quite a bit of research. You really have to prove every generation going back to your patriot ancestor with some sort of a document to substantiate the fact” that one is related to a patriot back in the 1700s.
Sometime after having been accepted as a member of the Sons, he decided to start dressing the part. At first, he purchased buckskin-style clothing of the type early Americans Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett might have worn. “There is a pretty good chance Christopher would have worn clothes like that,” he explained.
Sometime later, after additional research, he decided to don a more formal blue uniform that included a tricorn hat and a white crisscrossed sash. Back in the 1700s the sash was often used to hold a saber.
“Christopher probably didn’t carry a saber,” Parriott said, “but I was on the color guard for the State of Nevada Sons of the American Revolution.” As a part of that unit he was asked to add a scabbard and sword to his uniform.
For more information about the Sons, interested individuals can email firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t worry, uniforms are optional.
Chuck N. Baker is an award-winning journalist and a Vietnam War Purple Heart veteran. He can be heard at 8:30 a.m. each Sunday on KKVV-AM hosting “That’s America to Me” and occasionally on KUNV-FM hosting “America’s Veterans, Today and Tomorrow.”