Order of the Founders and Patriots of America. New Jersey Society. Records, 1896-1916 (bulk 1896-1908).

Manuscript Collection 426

Special Collections and University Archives

Rutgers University Libraries

QUANTITY: 1.2 cubic feet (3 manuscript boxes)

ACCESS: No restrictions.

PROCESSED BY: Daniel W. Noonan

Administrative History

The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America (OFPA) was formed in March of 1896 in New York City. The United States was nearing the end of the Centennial Era that had begun in 1876. Many hereditary societies had been organized during this time period. The objective in forming the OFPA, and what made it distinct from other hereditary societies, was the bringing together of individuals who not only were descendants of the founders of what was to become the United States of America, but who, further, were also descendants of those who were patriotic to the cause during the Revolutionary War.

The OFPA's goals as stipulated in the second article of its original constitution are six-fold:

  1. To bring together and associate men whose ancestors struggled for life and liberty, home and happiness, in this land, when it was a new and unknown country, and whose line of descent from them comes through patriots who sustained the Colonies in the struggle for independence in the Revolutionary War.
  1. To teach reverent regard for the names and history, character and perseverance, deeds and heroism of the founders of this country and their patriotic descendants.
  1. To inculcate patriotism in the Associates and their descendants.
  1. To discover, collect and preserve records, documents, manuscripts, monuments and history relating to the first colonists, their ancestors and descendants.
  1. To commemorate and celebrate events in the history of the Colonies and the Republic.
  1. Other historical and patriotic purposes.

Membership was originally limited to adult males, age twenty-one or greater. Those between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one could apply for junior membership. Currently, the minimum age for membership is eighteen. In 1898, a sister organization, the Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America, was formed for participation by women. To become a member of the OFPA, an individual has to prove lineal male descent, to one's mother or father, from individuals who arrived and settled in any of the colonies, now included in the United States, from May 13, 1607 (the founding of Jamestown), to May 13, 1657. This era represents the first half-century of settlement. The individual applying for membership must further prove that intermediary descendants in that lineage were loyal and patriotic to the American cause during the Revolutionary War.

Membership is open to the sons of members. Further considerations include being a citizen of the United States of America and being of good moral character and reputation. The membership eligibility clause in the national organization's constitution was changed in 1903, requiring new associates to prove that their ancestors were overtly active in the Revolutionary War. Efforts, by the New Jersey Society in 1906 (see box 2, folder 18) and the Pennsylvania Society in 1909 (see box 3, folder 12), were unsuccessful in rescinding this change. These state Societies felt that individuals, who because of religious convictions (such as Quakers) or age were unable to serve in the cause, were not necessarily any less patriotic.

In March and April of 1896, Messrs. William Winton Goodrich, Edward Nelson Granville Greene, Henry Lincoln Morris, Ralph Earl Prime, Howard Sumner Robbins, Charles Waterman Bentley Wilkinson, Howard Marshall, John Quincy Adams and Henry Hall met several times to form the OFPA and the New York Society of the OFPA, the first of the state Societies. The OFPA was officially incorporated in New York State on March 17, 1896, with the meeting of the charter members held on April 24, 1896. At this meeting, a charter was granted to nine associates to organize the New Jersey Society. The first meeting of the New Jersey organization was held on April 28, 1896, in the home of William Armstrong Halsey in Newark, New Jersey.

The New Jersey Society had the following offices when it was founded in 1896: governor, deputy governor, secretary, treasurer, states attorney, registrar and historian. A chaplain's office was added in 1898 and that of genealogist was added in 1900.

The inaugural set of officers in 1896 was as follows:

Office Name
Governor: William Armstrong Halsey
Deputy Governor: George Long Hutchings
Secretary: Washington Irving Lincoln Adams
Treasurer: Charles Broadwell Corwin
States Attorney: Frederic Allen Angell
Registrar: George Washington Case
Historian: Rev. Joseph Fulford Folsom

The New Jersey Society of the OFPA is still in existence and is active, conducting semi-annual meetings.

Hiram E. Deats

Many of the records in this collection were either created or accumulated, and then maintained, by Hiram Edmund Deats, an extremely active officer in the New Jersey Society of the Order of the Founders and Patriots during its formative years. He held the following positions in the Society: historian (1899-1900), secretary (1903-1904 and 1907-1908), genealogist (1905), registrar (1906), deputy governor (1908-1909), governor (1911-1912) and historian-general (1913-1914; national office).

Deats (1870-1963) was born in Flemington Junction, New Jersey. He was educated at the Peddie Institute in Hightstown, New Jersey, and was graduated in 1891. He then returned to Flemington Junction and a life of farming. In addition to his life on the farm, and being a member of the New Jersey Society of the OFPA, Deats held many positions of civic responsibility: director of the Flemington National Bank; member of the County Board of Agriculture; member and secretary of the Board of Corporation of the Peddie Institute; member of the Hunterdon County Historical Society; member of the Society of Colonial Wars; member and trustee of the New Jersey Historical Society; and founding member and Hall of Fame member of the American Philatelic Society. In addition, Deats was the author and compiler of several works of local history and genealogy.

Scope and Content Note

These records of the New Jersey Society of the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America range in date from 1896 to 1916, with the bulk of the records being from the years 1896 to 1908. The records are essentially the files of the secretary, together with certain additional records relating to the New Jersey Society and the national organization. The secretary of the New Jersey Society was responsible for contacting members regarding meetings and other events, recording the minutes of meetings, documenting his office's activities through a correspondence file, maintaining the lists of members and officers within the Society and forwarding the members their certificates of membership. The collection consists of the following record series: CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS; state and national MINUTES AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION; LIST OF OFFICERS; MEMBERSHIP ROSTERS; and CORRESPONDENCE OF THE SECRETARY.

Hiram E. Deats accumulated many of these records during his tenure as secretary and received others of the records from his predecessors as secretary. Additional records, such as the proceedings of the national meetings, were accumulated by Deats during and shortly after his tenure as governor of the New Jersey Society.

At some point in time, not now discernible, Deats donated these records to the Genealogical Society of New Jersey. The records were in turn donated to Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries, on July 28, 1979, as a gift from the Genealogical Society of New Jersey. The records in this collection are of historical significance to current members of the New Jersey Society and to researchers studying patriotic societies, as well as to genealogical researchers.

An additional two cubic feet of records for this organization, spanning the years 1896 to 1930, are held by and may be consulted at the New Jersey Historical Society.

Series Descriptions

CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS, 1897, 1899 and undated. (1 folder)

Arranged in the order described.

Constitution of the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America (OFPA), March 10, 1899; bylaws of the New Jersey Society, undated; and certificate of incorporation of the New Jersey Society, May 20, 1897.

The constitution sets forth the principles and structure of the OFPA. It stipulates the national organization's purposes and goals, establishes criteria for membership, identifies the offices and their responsibilities within the organization and sets forth a general rule of conduct.

The bylaws state the purpose and lay out the organization of the New Jersey Society of the OFPA.

The certificate of incorporation was granted by the State of New Jersey and documents the legal status of the organization.



Organized into two subseries: State and National; bulk arranged chronologically within each.

State Minutes: scattered minutes and officers' reports, 1897-1900, 1904-1905 and 1909-1910. The amount of information is very incomplete. This series also includes blank Historical Statement Forms that were used by potential members to document their lineage for the membership application process.

Of interest in this series is a biographical sketch of and the Historical Statement Form for William Raymond Weeks, who was a member of the New Jersey Society from June 30, 1896, until his resignation on December 20, 1902.

National Minutes: minutes of annual meetings of the General Court of the OFPA, 1902-1909 and 1911-1916. This subseries also includes the text of addresses by several dignitaries at the annual meeting of the General Court held in Philadelphia in 1907. Among the addresses is one by the then Mayor of Philadelphia, John H. Reyburn.

Due to spatial arrangement limitations, this subseries is filed in the last box of the collection.


LIST OF OFFICERS, 1896-1912. (1 folder)

Arranged chronologically.

A complete list of officers from the inception of the New Jersey Society in 1896 until 1912.


MEMBERSHIP ROSTER ["Record Book"], 1896-1911. (2 folders)

Arranged chronologically.

Record book, kept by the secretary, containing the names of all 65 members of the New Jersey Society from its inception, April 28, 1896, until January 7, 1911. The roster is indexed and lists the name of each member, the city in which he lived, the date he joined the New Jersey Society and (when applicable) the date he resigned, was dropped from the membership or died. Additionally, there are separate typed membership rosters for the years 1899 and 1905, each of which includes handwritten emendations.

Further typed membership rosters for at least some years are interfiled in the CORRESPONDENCE OF THE SECRETARY.


CORRESPONDENCE OF THE SECRETARY, 1896-1908. (.6 cubic ft.)

Bulk grouped alphabetically by first letter of sender's or recipient's name within three separate chronological sequences; letter book filed at end.

Correspondence to and from the secretary of the New Jersey Society of the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America. The secretaries responsible for the creation and maintenance of these files were: Washington Irving Lincoln Adams (1896-1897); Edward Vincent Cary (1898-1899); George Washington Case (1900); the Rev. Joseph Fulford Folsom (1901-1902); Hiram Edmund Deats (1903-1904 and 1907-1908); and James Barnes Pratt (1905-1906). Prominent among the correspondents are officers of the New Jersey Society, the New York Society and the national organization.

These files were originally housed in three alphabetized letter boxes which covered the following date ranges: April 28, 1896, to May 11, 1903; May 12, 1903, to 1907; and 1908. The correspondence files of the secretary were grouped alphabetically by the initial letter of the last name of the person, or by the initial letter of the first word of a company or organization, to which the correspondence was sent or from which it was received. Note that there was no attempt by the various secretaries to actually alphabetize the correspondence within the folders. As with the alphabetization, chronology was not maintained within the folders. Depending on the amount of correspondence for a particular letter or set of letters of the alphabet, there are one to three new file folders for each; however, as with the original files, no attempt was made to arrange the documents alphabetically or chronologically in the folders. A significant number of the letters (those that are copies of correspondence sent by the secretary) are on very poor quality paper.

Also included in this series is a letter book (with very thin sheets of paper copied in a letterpress) which was used from June 2, 1897, until May 12, 1903, to record outgoing letters.

Among the items of interest within the correspondence are: letters exchanged between the New Jersey Society and other state Societies regarding proposed alterations to the national organization's constitution to reflect changes in the definition of patriotic actions (box 2, folder 18); a form letter from Melvil Dewey and the New York State Library requesting a list of publications issued by the New Jersey Society (box 2, folder 3); and the transcription of a letter from George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull, May 15, 1784 (box 3, folder 5).


Container List

1 1 CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS, 1897, 1899 and undated
  2  1897-1900
  3  1904-1905
  4  1909-1910
  5  Historical Statement Form (blank), undated
  6  Biographical Sketch of William Raymond Weeks, undated
(1) 7 LIST OF OFFICERS, 1896-1912
  8  Record Book, April 17, 1896-January 7, 1911
  9  1899 and 1905
  10-14  A-Cl, April 28, 1896-1908

  1-11  Co-Hy, April 28, 1896-1908
  12-19  K-Q, April 28, 1896-1908
  20  R, April 28, 1896-1907

  1  R, 1908
  2-7  S-Z, April 28, 1896-1908
  8  Letter Book, June 2, 1897-May 12, 1903
  9-14  1902-1909 and 1911-1916

Selected Bibliography

Kennedy, Steele Mabon, ed. The New Jersey Almanac and Travel Guide: 1966-1967. Cedar Grove, N.J.: The New Jersey Almanac, Inc., 1966.

Order of the Founders and Patriots of America Homepage. Retrieved March 9, 2000.


Van Name, Elmer Garfield, ed. Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New Jersey, Yearbook: 1968. Printed for the Society, 1968.

The Western Philatelic Library. "History of the Western Philatelic Library." Retrieved April 5, 2000.


Wisconsin Society Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America Homepage. Originally retrieved March 9, 2000.

URL updated September 9, 2011.