Revolutionary War Historical Article
The San Francisco Earthquake and the SAR
By Donald N. Moran
Editor's Note: This article was reprinted from the May 2001 Edition of the Liberty Tree Newsletter
Every SAR Compatriot knows that our Society traces it's roots to the "Sons of the Revolutionary War Sires", We also know that Society was founded in San Francisco in October 1875. However, we know so little about the "Sires", or for that matter, the first three decades of the SAR in California, we felt that an explanation was in order.
The oldest surviving meeting minutes of the California Society, S.A.R., are from the Board of Managers Meeting held on May 25th, 1906, a little over a month after the devastating San Francisco Earthquake, tells it all. We have reprinted an abridgement of those Minutes.
"2511 Broadway, San Francisco, California.
A regular meeting of the Board of Managers was held as above in the residence of Compatriot Geo. Sargent.
The meeting was called to order by President Edward Mills Adams, using the gavel made of timbers of the U.S. Frigate Constitution which had escaped destruction in the conflagration of April 18th, by the fact that it was in the safe of the Occidental Hotel. President Adams was seated at a card table which had been the property of Henry Clay.
Members of the Board present were Compatriots Hosner; Coolidge, Hubbard, Manly, Sargent, and Moss.
The Secretary announced that all the records of the Society had been destroyed. The reading of the minutes of the previous meeting therefore waived.
Communications were read as follows:
From the Secretary General transmitting resolutions of sympathy passed by the National Congress. From the Colorado Society, resolution of sympathy.
From the Mass. Society, a resolution of sympathy and an announcement that they had voted $200.00 for the relief of sufferers by the fire and earthquake in San Francisco.
From the Ohio Society, a telegram authorizing the President to draw upon their Society for $200.00 to relieve Compatriots in distress.
From the District of Columbia and Iowa Societies letters announcing that they had instructed their delegates to vote against the proposed amendment to the Constitution which would change the method of voting.
The Secretary announced that he had already written to all Societies offering sympathy and thanking them for same.
The Registrar and Secretary were appointed a committee of two to restore the rolls of members.
The Secretary was instructed to write to the Treasurer and ask him to send a report of the finances of the Society.
The Registrar presented the application of Roscoe Palmer Bromley which was placed on file.
Compatriot Coolidge asked for a leave of absence as he expected to be away from the State for a long time.
President Adams resigned the chair to Compatriot Hosner and moved a vote of thanks to Compatriot Coolidge for his zealous and valuable services, and of regrets for his prospective absence. The Motion carried.
The Meeting was Adjourned
J. Mora Moss, Secretary"
Just five weeks after one of the worst natural disasters to befall the United States, the SAR was going about the business of reorganizing. We do not know if any of our Compatriots were killed, nor do we know how many lost their homes or businesses, but surely some did. The official reports indicated that 498 died in San Francisco, and approximately 2,500 died in the fire storm that followed, but their bodies were never recovered. 64 died in Santa Rosa, and another 102 dead in San Jose.
The population of San Francisco in 1906 was about 400,000 of which 225,000 were homeless. The City reported that 24,671 wood buildings were lost, 3,168 brick buildings were lost for a total $28,188! The monetary loss was more than $400 million in 1906 dollars.
The support given to the California Society by the other State Societies underscores the fraternal bond we all share as members of the SAR.