Wood commissioners honored for flag display

PARKERSBURG – Representatives of the Capt. James Neal Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution presented Wood County commissioners a flag certificate on Monday.

“We represent the national society and the West Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution, the local chapter here in Parkersburg is the Capt. James Neal Chapter. From time to time we take great pleasure in presenting an award to someone that flys our U.S. flag. It’s always a pleasure to see the flag flying on top of Fort Boreman Hill. It’s lit and presented very well. We take great pride in seeing it. We wanted to present you with a flag certificate as a sign of our appreciation,” said SAR officer Ronald Barnes.

Dressed in their three-cornered hats and period uniforms, SAR representatives Jerry and Ronald Barnes and Jim Lockhart presented the certificate to the commissioners Monday.

Ronald Barnes explained parts of the uniforms.

“They lived in their uniforms day in and day out, including using the shirt as a nightshirt, and they didn’t take baths. This is a haversack which was used to carry anything they could use, from food to a clean shirt,” Ronald Barnes said of a pouch he carried on his uniform.

He explained the advantage of the tri-cornered hats.

“As they fired their muskets, they would cock their hats as they fired, so the flash would not blind them,” Ronald Barnes explained.

Jerry Barnes showed the commissioners his period reproduction spectacles.

“This is called a gorget. This is a small model, a larger one would wrap around your throat to protect the soldier from swords or knives,” said Ronald Barnes, who also serves as color guard commander for the unit.

“Jim (Lockhart) and his wife have numerous databases of genealogy on many families and Jim’s wife is active in the DAR,” Ronald Barnes said.

The SAR group participates in a number of Revolutionary War memorial ceremonies, and parades. The group attended a parade and Revolutionary War commemoration at Point Pleasant, and serves as color guard for a variety of events including the opening ceremonies for the upcoming April 20 Scottish and Celtic Heritage Festival at the Parkersburg City Park Pavilion.

According to the chapter history on the group’s website, Capt. James Neal raised a company to join Washington’s Army at Valley Forge and subsequently was offered a commission as a major in the army. After the war he returned to his home in Greene County, Pa. He keenly felt the poverty of the frontier, and is said to have sold a land grant of 4,000 acres in Ohio for $300. In the spring of 1783, as a deputy surveyor, he surveyed the preemption right and settlement claim of Alexander Parker of Pittsburgh, the land upon which the city of Parkersburg has since been built. In the fall of 1786 he again left Pennsylvania, with a party of men bound for the Kentucky country, but he and some of his companions stopped at the mouth of the Little Kanawha and decided to make a permanent settlement. Here they erected the block house afterward known as Neal’s Station, the first structure of its kind in what is now Wood County. In the spring of 1787, Neal returned with his family to Neal’s Station.

Neal was a member of the County Court from 1800 until his death, served as high sheriff from 1807 to 1809, and in 1809 was elected a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, serving two terms.