Society of the Descendants of Washington's
Army at Valley Forge
Welcome to the Descendants!
A Concise History of the Society

Until the Bicentennial of American Independence, there had been no general effort to draw up the roll of more than 3,000 soldiers who were believed to have died in and around Valley Forge Pennsylvania while encamped there with General George Washington during the fateful winter of 1777-78 and the months that followed. The Society of the Descendants of Washington's Army at Valley Forge was founded by Mr. Donald G. Cronan of Manhassett, New York for the purpose of compiling a roll and preserving the identity of the individual soldiers, especially those who lie in unmarked graves.

In 1975 Cronan, a member of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission visited the park at Valley Forge for the first time. Having recently discovered that his ancestor had been at Valley Forge, but had not left when the army marched out. Cronan was disappointed to find no marker or even a roll listing the honored dead of Valley Forge.

On March 25, 1976, Cronan submitted the official application with the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration to make the forming of the Society a registered Bicentennial project. (#022453) The main objective of this new society would be the compilation of the roll of the soldiers that died in or near the Valley Forge Encampment. The scope has changed to record all the honored ancestors as proven by the membership through their documented application.

The society of the Descendants of Washinton's Army at Valley Forge was organized as a Bicentennial Project on March 25, 1976, by Mr. Donald G. Cronan of New York. Charter members were the first 79 members who joined. The organizational meeting was held in the Guild Room at the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge, PA.

The first annual Encampment was held for the membership on Washington 's Birthday weekend 1978. The ground was covered with snow which brought those in attendance a special reverence with the suffering of their ancestors.

The Society has continued to grow and prosper as the "honored roll" is called for those who served their country in this time of peril.

The Society has enjoyed a successive line of outstanding Commanders in Chief though whose efforts the society has enjoyed much growth, starting with Donald Cronan and including, Phillip Steel, Betty Brown Miller, Barbara Waltz Stone, and Timothy Massey.

On October 23, 1976 the organizational committee met at Washington's Headquarters to formally launch the society. The first formal meeting of the society was held in Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge.

The Society was organized "for the purposes of attracting the interest and support of the descendants of George Washington's Army at Valley Forge" for educational and charitable purposes "within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended. " (See Article II, Bylaws.) Various scholarships and awards are presented by the national and state organizations, know as Brigades.

Members prove their "descent in a direct blood line from an officer or enlisted man of proven honorable service in a Continental Line or other military unit headquartered at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, under the command of General George Washington at any time within the calendar dates of the historic winter encampment of Washington's Army at Valley Forge, viz., December 19, 1777, through June 19, 1778." (See Article III, Bylaws.)

Through the years, various projects have been completed, recognizing the ancestors of the members. Some of those projects are: placement of a tree in the Memorial Grove in the Valley Forge National Historic Park; naming of a bench for the society in Washington Square, Philidelphia; and placement of a marker near the Patriots Bell Tower at Washington Memorial Chapel.

The marker reads: "In Honor of All Loyal Patriots who Served under the Command of General George Washington In the Winter Encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, December 19, 1777 - June 19, 1778, and in Honor of Donald G. Cronan, Founder of the Society, Society of the Descendants of Washington's Army at Valley Forge."

The Society has an annual Encampment, sometime between Dec. 19 and June 19, usually in the Valley Forge area. The date and location are announced several months in advance and information is provided in issues of the quarterly newsletter, "The Encampment", which is sent to all members of the society.


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