The following are the pictures and stories of the most prominent members and leaders of the San Diego Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
On Wednesday, July 4, 1894, Mr. Daniel Cleveland called together a group of Revolutionary War descendants living in San Diego to organize the Southern California Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Mr. Cleveland served as the Society’s first President from 1894 until 1908 and was justifiably proud of his family.
His father, Stephen Cleveland was a prominent New York lawyer, and his maternal great-grandfather, James Huntington, served as a Corporal in Amos Jones’ Company from Colchester, Connecticut in the Lexington alarm in April 1775. Daniel Cleveland could show that every family represented in his lineage had come to America before 1640.
Daniel was born at Poughkeepsie, New York on March 21, 1838, where he lived until 1850. He then moved to Biloxi, Mississippi to attend school. At the age of seventeen he moved to New Orleans where he was head bookkeeper in a commercial establishment for two years. In 1857 he returned to Poughkeepsie and was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of New York in 1859.
In May 1859, Daniel joined his older brother, William H. Cleveland, in a law practice in San Antonio, Texas. The Cleveland brothers had sworn allegiance to the Union but neither was physically fit to perform military duty.
His brother William moved to San Diego to practice law, and in 1866 Daniel left San Antonio for New York to recuperate from an illness. The following year he moved to San Francisco, but in May 1869 Daniel came to San Diego. In San Diego, Cleveland plunged into his profession with vigor, and involved himself in local, cultural and civic affairs. A deeply religious person, Daniel Cleveland wasted no time in serving the Episcopal Church in many capacities. He aided the establishment of almost every parish and mission of the episcopal Church in San Diego County.
In 1871–73, he was a director of the San Diego and Gila Southern Pacific and Atlantic Railroad Company, and of the Los Angeles and San Diego Railroad Company. In January 1889 he, and others, incorporated the Hospital of the Good Samaritan. At the same time, Cleveland, George White Marston, Marcus Schiller, Mary C. Morse, and others, incorporated the Associated Charities of San Diego. In 1892, he drew up articles of incorporation for a women’s club in San Diego, and was an advisor for the San Diego Club. In May 1895, Cleveland and Dr. George E. Abbott, house surgeon at the Hotel Del Coronado, formed the Coronado Beach Summer School—perhaps the first summer school established in Southern California. And later that same year he helped to reorganize the University Extension Society of San Diego, serving as president.
Daniel realized that the San Diego region was rich in flora and fauna. He began corresponding with Dr. Asa Gray of Harvard University, after having collected plants to send to the professor. Cleveland provided some new species, one of which was given his name; in addition he forwarded to Stanford University a new genus of fishes given the name Clevelandia ios (Arrow Goby). In August 1874, he and a group of men incorporated the San Diego Society of Natural History. Cleveland served as President for some years, making large donations for its betterment. Many of the original specimens obtained by the San Diego Society of Natural History were his gifts. Salvia clevelandii was described by Asa Gray in 1874 and named for Daniel Cleveland, who had collected the “type” specimens.
Dedicated to community service, Daniel Cleveland found little time for marriage; but on July 22, 1921, at Christ Church, Coronado, he married the widow Mrs. Marion South Webb. They moved into a home at 1718 Logan Avenue in San Diego. On January 3, 1929, Daniel Cleveland passed away at his home, just short of his 91st birthday and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.
Judge William John Mossholder, a prominent San Diego Attorney, served as the last President of the Southern California Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1909–10, and became the first President of the reorganized San Diego Chapter, No 2 of the California Society of the Sons of the American Revolution on June 13, 1910, which had about twenty members at the time.
He was born August 27, 1857 in Martinsburg, Knox County, Ohio, the son of Squire Humphrey Mossholder and Mary Eliza (Robinson) Mossholder. His great-grandfather, John Mossholder, served as a private in Captain Young’s Company, 8th Cumberland, Bedford, Somerset, and Westmoreland Counties, Pennsylvania. Based on the service of John Mossholder, William became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution on July 21, 1909. One of his two sons, Rusk Prentice Mossholder, became a member of the San Diego Chapter, SAR on September 15, 1909.
William graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University and received a law degree from the University of Iowa. He was admitted to the Supreme Court of Iowa and to the United States courts. On September 26, 1881, he married Jennie Prentice at Viroqua, Wisconsin. In December 1885, the Mossholder family moved to San Diego, California and he formed a law partnership with the Honorable Watson Parrish. He had a long and distinguished legal career arguing cases before the California Supreme Court. William belonged to numerous commercial associations and public improvement societies. He was very active in the Masonic Lodge and served in a variety of offices , including the Master of San Diego Lodge No. 35 in 1892–93. The Supreme Council of Scottish Rite Masons in Washington, D.C. bestowed the honorary title Knight Commander of the Court of Honor.
Judge W. J. Mossholder was selected as one of the speakers for the first major post Panama-California Exposition event scheduled in Balboa Park for Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1917. Unfortunately rain forced the organizers to postpone the celebration to February 25. Judge Mossholder, an officer of the Sons of the American Revolution, praised the American colonialists who wrested their independence from Great Britain. He was followed by soloists who sang songs stressing love of country and of freedom.
Judge Mossholder passed from this life at the age of 85 on April 10, 1943 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, as is his wife Jennie and sons Mark Prentice and Rusk Prentice.
George White Marston served as President of the San Diego Chapter from 1914–1915. He was born in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin on October 22, 1850. His father had a chronic respiratory ailment which brought them first to San Francisco in 1870 and then on the side wheeler SS Senator to San Diego on October 20th. George lived here until his death on May 31, 1946.
In 1902 Marston donated $10,000 so the Park Commission could hire Samuel Parsons, landscape architect for the City of New York, to prepare the first comprehensive plan for Balboa Park. Later he again contributed his personal funds so that the City Council could hire John Nolen, one of the nation’s outstanding city planners. Nolen prepared the city’s first comprehensive plan in 1908 and returned in 1926 to draw up a more detailed plan which was adopted as a guide to San Diego’s urban development.
In 1907, Compatriot Marston bought Presidio Hill with the purpose of preserving the old Presidio of San Diego. He was not able to persuade anyone to join him in the project so he built Presidio Park in 1925. He commissioned the Serra Museum, designed by William Templeton Johnson, and donated the Park to the city in 1929.
Irving Gill designed Marston’s home and had extensive contact with him through the early planning of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in City Park. Marston served as chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee for the Exposition.
Marston served on the first board of trustees for the San Diego Public Library in 1882 and founded the San Diego YMCA serving as its president for 22 years. He founded the San Diego Historical Society and served as its first President. He also raised funds and provided his own money to buy land for present day Torrey Pines State Reserve and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Marston was a businessman and a philanthropist. He opened a reading room in his dry goods store to promote education for all ages. His wife, Anna Lee Gunn, was a school teacher. Together they had five children. Anna’s uncle, Douglas Gunn was editor of the San Diego Union.
The Marston Company was the only major department store in San Diego for many years. Its success was due to exclusive business arrangements with many of his suppliers. He became quite wealthy and was a generous philanthropist in the city and throughout Southern California.
Lester Benson Orr was born in Mount Hope, Grant County, Wisconsin on December 19, 1887. His parents, Edward Dearth Orr and Mary Jane Holford, were married on November 25, 1884. Lester Orr married Gladys Marietta Hook, born in Wisconsin on May 27, 1888. They had two children, Hazel Leslie (b. 1912) and Edward Rawson (b. 1926).
Lester was a University of Wisconsin electrical engineer student in 1909. Gladys graduated from the University of Wisconsin Library School in 1917. His WWI draft card states he lived in Chicago, IL and recorded him as having a medium build and height, with light hair and blue eyes. His WWII draft card reported he lived in Riverside, IL, and worked for the Western Electric Company in Cicero, IL.
Compatriot Orr’s submitted his application for SAR membership through the Illinois Society. The application was approved by the Registrar General on March 31, 1944, and was assigned NSSAR membership #63247. His SAR
membership application listed his occupation as a Telephone Expert Engineer. Lester Orr’s Patriot Ancestor Robert Orr served in the Fifth Class (sic) of Chester County, PA.
Compatriot Orr and his family moved to California in 1951, and he transferred his membership to the California Society and was assigned CASSAR #7648. He became an active member of the San Diego SAR chapter and served as the Chapter President in 1955. The Orr family is believed to have lived in La Mesa, CA. He died on September 12, 1963, and
his wife died in 1972.
In 2004, Travis E. Spears, San Diego Chapter Past President (1993) found Lester Orr’s Membership Badge listed for sale on eBay. Travis purchased the Membership Badge and presented the Badge to Chapter President Philip L. Hinshaw with the stipulation that the Membership Badge would be presented to each incoming Chapter President as the “Compatriot Lester Orr Memorial Presidential Badge”.
Travis Spears served at CASSAR President in 1999, CASSAR Trustee in 2000, and Vice President Pacific Region in 2001. Travis Spears was awarded the NSSAR Minuteman Medal in 2005.
Joseph Henry Pendleton graduated from the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland and was appointed a second Lieutenant on July 1, 1884. His first assignment was at the Marine Barracks, Brooklyn Naval Yard, followed by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire where he joined the USS Pensacola March 20, 1885. Three years later he reported back to the Marine Barracks, Brooklyn Naval Yard.
Promoted to First Lieutenant on June 28, 1891, at the outbreak of the Spanish American War, he served on the converted cruiser USS Yankee, taking part in the bombardment of Santiago, Cuba. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on March 3, 1899 and Major on March 3, 1903. He joined the First Marine Brigade on May 28, 1904 in the Philippine Islands. From February to July 1906, Major Pendleton commanded the Marine Barracks, Guam. He was transferred to the Marine Barracks, Puget Sound, Bremerton, Washington for the next three years. Advanced to the rank of Lt. Colonel on January 1, 1908 he was again assigned to the First Marine Brigade in the Philippines on November 4 of the following year. He was assigned as Commanding Officer and then as Post Commander and ultimately as Commanding Officer, First Marine Regiment, Olongapo, PI. On May 23, 1911 he was promoted to Colonel. He remained in the Philippines for another year. In May 1912 he was detached and returned to the United States via the Suez Canal and Europe. He reported for duty in August at the Marine Barracks, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was sent for temporary foreign duty as the commander of all Marine forces in Nicaragua. He commanded skirmishes at Masaya and Chichigalpa and the capture of Coyotepe and Leon all of which hold high places in Marine Corps history. He followed these exploits in 1913 with the expeditionary force at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In September of that year he was ready for a quieter assignment again this time as Commanding Officer of the Marine Barracks, Puget Sound, Bremerton, Washington. But again, he was sent on expeditionary duty a good part of the time as the Commanding Officer of the 4th Regiment aboard the USS South Dakota and the USS Jupiter. The regiment moved ashore on July 10, 1914 at North Island, San Diego.
His love affair with the area began immediately as he recognized the value it had as a Marine Corps Advance Base on the West Coast which he openly advocated for the next ten years. The Marine Corps was well ensconced in the area by the time he retired after 46 years distinguished service. He served as Mayor of Coronado from 1928–1930 and San Diego Chapter President 1929–1930.