Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
A Pictorial Catalog of
Commemorative Flagholders & Plaques
 of Organizations & Military
 Patriotic Order, Sons of America
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Commemorative Plaques & Flagholders
 of Military and Organizations
as Photographed by Joyce M. Tice 

Patriotic Order, Sons of America
POS of A

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Some Tri-Counties area POS of A Photos

This was another of the anti-Catholic, Anti immigration, Anti Irish, etc. organizations that formed the core of the Know Nothing Party (See OAUM write-up for explanation). It originated before 1847 in Philadelphia. The OAUM with its similar ideology, also originated in Philadelphia in the 1840s which was a time of high Irish immigration. Its earliest name was Patriotic Order, United Sons of America. When the Republican Party was formed and the Know Nothing Party collapsed, this organization also disappeared. In 1868, it reorganized, with the United dropped from its name. Given the similarity to this organization and the OAUM and JOUAM and the overlapping geographic proximity of their operations, it is difficult to see why two organizations needed to exist for one purpose. Like the Masonic lodges and those who followed their examples, this organization had three degrees for members to achieve. They were Red, White, And Blue.

The women's auxiliary of this organization was called Daughters of America as was the auxiliary of the JOUAM. A junior branch formed in 1847 was called Patriotic Order, Junior Sons of America. Another auxiliary of this organization was called Patriotic Order of Americans which merged with the Daughters of American to become the Patriotic Order of True Americans. All of these related organizations have disappeared but their flagholders remain intact in many of our cemeteries.

Ironically I found one grave where a person had dual membership in the I.O.R.M. and the P.O., S. of A. Apparently he found some way to reconcile taking the ancestral land from the Indian and preventing anyone else from taking it from him. Go figure. 

The following emails have come my way - the first from a person seeking records for genealogy purposes, and the second from a present day member attempting to answer his questions. The answer includes some history of the organization. I have reprinted the note here with Mr. Clossin's permission. Remember that the purpose of my site is to help history/genealogy researchers identify flagholders found on graves and to understand the organizations AT THE TIME the person under study belonged to them. My site is not intended to explain or promote the organizations as they exist today.

Question: Mr Clossin
 Is it possible to find out more about the POSA? In doing my genealogy, I've noted several of my ancestors were members of the organization. I'd like to know if there are any records still existing which might show what they did or if they held any offices in the POSA. For the record, my ancestors lived in and around Tower City, Schuylkill Co, PA.

Answer: The Order of the Junior Sons of America was founded Dec. 10, 1847 in Philadelphia PA by Dr. Reynell Coates.  The organization was open to (white) boys aged 16-21.  Upon turning 21, his membership would be transferred to the Sons of America, the parent organization of the Junior Sons.  The Sons of America dissolved in the 1850's, but the Junior Sons continued on.  It spread to other states during the 1850's (I have 2 letters from the Junior Sons of Mass. dated in the 1850's).  Pennsylvania has always had the largest number of members and Camps (Each "post" is called Washington Camp #___).

     When the Civil War broke out, the first PA regiments were members of the Junior Sons.  So many members volunteered that only one Camp in PA stayed alive.  At the war's end, a convention was held in I think Norristown PA to re-organize the Order.  It was at this time that the name was changed to the Patriotic Order Sons of America and the age limit of 21 was done away with.

     During the 1870-1900 period, the P.O.S. of A. really expanded, having camps up and down the eastern seaboard, and in states as far west as Wyoming and Colorado.  The P.O.S. of A. participated in many parades and other social functions, and their Commandery units were always dressed in military style uniforms with hats/ swords/ the whole nine yards.

     At the turn of the last century, the P.O.S. of A. helped purchase and restore Washington's Headquarters in Valley Forge.  Soon after the State of PA took it over as a park, and it was years before the P.O.S. of A. (and I think the DAR) got the recognition for their tireless efforts.  The P.O.S. of A. was also responsible for making Flag Day a National holiday- the man who drafted the legislation was a member.  We also played a large role in having Adm. Dewey's flagship Olympia preserved in Philadelphia.  We continue to present flags to Valley Forge Park, and the flag that flies at Independence Hall comes from us.

     The P.O.S. of A. stands for education, patriotism, respect for the US Flag, etc.  As I said at one time it was for whites only, but that is no longer the case (obviously that would be illegal and immoral).  One of the main things we do is donate flags to local organizations etc. and try to spread our love for America.  We no longer have the name recognition or influence we once had, but we're still around and active in our respective communities.

     As far as PA goes, we always had the largest # of Camps.  In the 1930's there were nearly 900.  Today there are only about 52 Camps left in PA, and less than 1500 members.    There is still one camp left in NJ, and a few down in NC.  Luckily my own camp (Camp 387, Schwenksville, PA) is a fairly active one- we have about 80 members and are constantly trying to bring new people in.

     You may be interested to know that Schuylkill County was once a hotbed of P.O.S. of A. activity.  James K. Helms and Henry J. Stager were 2 early members who were extremely influential in strengthening the Order and are buried in the Schuylkill Haven Cemetery.  The County at one time had at least 45 Camps, and our newsletter called "Camp News" was started there in 1867.  Incidentally, the State Camp has invited members to go on an historic tour of the above mentioned cemetery and Pine Grove cemetery on May 12th.  I'm planning on going as it will be very informative.  Let me know if you're in the area and I'll see what I can do about having you come along as well (I don't know if you live near there or not).

As far as records of your own ancestors, you could contact State Secretary Richard Fetzer at 215-634-3705.  This is the # for the State Office of the P.O.S. of A., in Phila.  I'm not sure how extensive the records are- I know over the years not everything was kept due to space, etc.

Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.  By the way, I'm just curious- where did you get my e-mail/ who told you about me?

Thanks again for your interest!

Darren Clossin

 Subj:  POS of A
Date:  01/28/2004 9:24:21 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Ingrid Briles)

Hi. I found your site awhile ago while searching for information on my PHY relatives. My ggg, and gg grandfather were Philadelphia members. I noticed someone looking for old records. Sadly, they don't exist for Philly. They were all stored in Chalfont. There was a fire many years ago, and the building that stored them, burnt to the ground. After learning about the fire, I mentioned it to my uncle, who would be a grandson and great grandson to the two that I am searching, and my uncle was one of the firefighters who tried to put it out! He had no idea until I told him, this last summer, what was stored there, basically a huge part of his genealogy.
This is a great site!
Ingrid Briles
Charleston, WV

Introduction on Flagholder Section Warning on Sale of Cemetery Memorabilia Obtaining Present Day Flagholders

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 06/05/2003
By Joyce M. Tice

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