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July 4 Celebration and Commemoration at Congressional Cemetery

4 Jul 2020 10:00 AM | Joel Hinzman (Administrator)

Founded April 19, 1890 - Our 131st Year

1801 E Street, Southeast, Washington, D.C. 20003


The District of Columbia Society Sons of the American Revolution (“DCSAR”), the District of Columbia Daughters of the American Revolution (“DCDAR”), the Children of the American Revolution (“C.A.R.”) and members of many other lineage and patriotic organizations gathered on the Fourth of July 2020 for our traditional Independence Day kickoff at Congressional Cemetery. The purpose was to honor and remember Vice President Elbridge Gerry and all the other Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Vice President Gerry is the only Signer buried in Washington, D.C. 


Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17, 1744, one of Thomas and Elizabeth Greenleaf Gerry's 11 children. A former ship's captain who emigrated from England in 1730, Thomas Gerry was a pillar of the Marblehead community, serving as a justice of the peace and selectman and as moderator of the town meeting. Gerry was elected to the second Continental Congress in December 1775, serving until 1780 and again from 1783 to 1785. He was one of four delegates chosen by the Massachusetts legislature to attend the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Gerry served in the United States House of Representatives during the First and Second Congresses (1789-1793). A conciliatory and moderate legislator, he supported Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton's proposals to fund the Revolutionary War debt and to establish a national bank.1


The vice presidency had been vacant for nearly a year by the time Gerry took office as the nation's fifth vice president on March 4, 1813. His predecessor, died in office on April 20, 1812. Gerry would die in office before the end of his term in 1814. After Gerry's interment at Congressional Cemetery, the United States claimed victory over Great Britain. The young nation received few tangible concessions from the British under the Treaty of Ghent, but a new generation of leaders viewed America's "victory" in the War of 1812 as a reaffirmation of the ideals that had animated and sustained Elbridge Gerry since the summer of 1776.1


During the program, two new members were inducted into DCSAR by State Secretary Paul Hays. Compatriot Jonathan Carothers is a 

fifth great grandson of Magdalena Adams, who as a widow paid the Pennsylvania Supply Tax in 1782 and therefore qualifies as a patriot ancestor in her own right.  Compatriot Brian Jack, is a fifth great grandson of Jonas Nicholas, a Private in the 1st Regiment of New York Levies


DCSAR 1st Vice-President William O. Ritchie, Jr. presented the 2020 SAR Law Enforcement Commendation and Medal to the Family of Officer Robert Fleet. 


On August 20, 1874 at about 0129 hours Washington Metropolitan Police Department Officer Robert Fleet of the Second Precinct while on duty observed a building fire while standing on the corner of 15th and Q Streets NW. Reportedly, the officer ran to fire box #79 to turn in an alarm. He sounded the alarm using a key to the old-fashionedtelegraph system two alarm boxes with a telegraphic key that were used to report neighborhood fires. He immediately fell dead with his key still in the alarm box. It was opined that the exertion of running and excitement caused the rupture of a blood vessel. Others attribute his death to apoplexy, which is unconsciousness or incapacity resulting from a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke.2

Officer Fleet was the second person of color appointed to the police force on October 29, 1869 and served over three years in the fourth precinct. During April 1873, he was transferred to the second precinct where he served until the time of his death. The funeral of Officer Fleet took place on August 24th at his residence of 2039 K Street NW. The remains were attended by a detail of police, under Lieutenant Cornelius Noonan, and were interred in Harmony Cemetery. Reportedly, there was hardly an officer on the force more generally liked, being of quiet, unassuming manners, and faithful and discreet in the discharge of his duties. As was remarked by some of the officers who had been his colleagues, he was a gentleman.2

Officer Fleet is listed as a member of the department in the US Interior Department MPD roster on September 13, 1871.


Robert Fleet was found to have enlisted in the US Navy on May 30, 1859 and served in the capacity of a waiter. On July 25, 1863 was listed in the U.S. Colored Troops, 22nd Regiment Company C and held the rank of Private and the position of feed merchant. He was discharged at some point after the conclusion of the Civil War. 

Officer Fleet was survived by his wife and two children. During August of 2019 two of Officer Fleet’s second great grandsons, Clayton and Simeon Deskins and second great granddaughter Donna Shoulders were identified via genealogy by DCSAR. All are currently living in the Washington, DC area. The commendation is presented to the Deskins Family.

Evening Star Article Dated August 20, 1874, Page 4

The Sons of the American Revolution (“SAR”) the largest male lineage organization in the U.S., consists of 50 state-level societies with more than 500 local chapters, several international societies (including Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), and over 34,000 members. The Missions of this Society are declared to be patriotic, historical, and educational; to unite and promote fellowship among the descendants of those who sacrificed to achieve the independence of the American people, to inspire them and the community-at-large with a more profound reverence for the principles of the government founded by our forefathers; to foster true patriotism; to maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom. 

Copyright D.C. Sons of the American Revolution

The D.C. Sons of the American Revolution is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. 1801 E Street SEWashington, DC 20003 

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