The Society of the Cincinnati

PBJr_2017 (2)I am pleased to announce with great pleasure that my brother, Peter Barnes, has been accepted into the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. Yes, it appears the lineage society bug has taken my family and this one in particular is rather noteworthy.

From the society website:

Established in 1783, as the American War for Independence drew to a close, the Society of the Cincinnati is the oldest private patriotic organization in the United States. The Society is also our nation’s first hereditary organization. The founders of the Society assigned their descendants the task of preserving the memory of the patriotic sacrifices that made American liberty a reality.

In regards to the long list of lineage societies available for interested participants to join this one is indeed prestigious. And due to the strict qualifications required of the patriot from which one descends it is not easy for many to up and join. (Yes, this is me tooting the horn of our patriot ancestor, Major James Collins.) First and foremost patriots had to be officers during the war, but you couldn’t just be an officer – you had to serve a minimum of three years as an officer during the war. Because war of any sort is terrible not all officers made it three years, which is why eligibility is also extended to descendants of those who were killed or disabled, was serving at the end of the war in 1783, or was ‘deranged’.

Where did our 6th great-grandfather, Major James Collins fit into those eligibility requirements? Oh, he was deranged. This terms tickles me and I’ll explain it to you as it was explained to me from the Senior Society Secretary of the Massachusetts constituency:

As you likely know he (James Collins) entered the fray as a Major of Col. Moses Little’s Massachusetts Regiment on the 19th of May 1775. In January of 1776 this became the 12th Continental Regiment (still under Little) and he remained as Major. This was one of the Regiments that Washington begged to remain with him after Trenton -which they did for about 4-5 weeks. At that point the 12th was disbanded.

James returned home and immediately joined the Massachusetts Militia as a General. He may also have briefly commanded a Privateer called the Cumberland out of Boston.

The fact that his unit was disbanded rather than merged with other units, and that he continued to be involved in the war is a strong indication that he may have been deranged. That was a lovely 18th century word that meant, ‘we have no one for you to command so please keep your sword polished and we will call if we need you.

Lovely indeed. Seriously, I can’t speak for my brother on this, but this whole lineage society business has fostered a new appreciation for American history. I have always been a lover of history, geography and social studies, but this really has me going back and reexamining what I learned long ago in high school. I’ve learned so much from those who have assisted in the application processes and I can’t thank them enough. How I wish I had known all of these things when I was younger.

So what was I saying… Oh yes, many congratulations to my brother, Peter Barnes! A round of sound please.

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