Michigan Society Sons of the American Revolution hopes to make America’s 250-year anniversary special.
By Matt Schepeler
David Van Hoof has spent much of his life in public service in one capacity or another. A former Marine who served as both an enlistee and an officer, Van Hoof, an attorney, joined and eventually became Post Commander of the Wilber-Bartlett Post #315 in Brooklyn. While there, his passion for honoring veterans culminated in the erection of the Fallen Soldier War Memorial on the village square. He also championed raising funds to get Fallen Soldier memorials placed in other locations throughout Jackson County.
After serving in the capacity of post commander, Van Hoof and his wife moved to Lansing, and he got involved with the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. With his affinity for leadership, the former Marine rose through the ranks and is now serving as the President of the Michigan Society Sons of the American Revolution.
It is a good fit. Van Hoof’s hunger to honor fallen soldiers has now become focused on recognizing patriots – those who served during the American Revolution, in order to properly memorialize them. The mission of the National Society Sons of the American Revolution, the state chapter’s parent organization, is to “keep alive the memory of our Revolutionary War Patriots through public outreach, establishing lineages, preserving their battlefields and homesteads, and commemorating their graves.” (more below)
The organization is a purely genealogical society with no political affiliations.
According to Van Hoof, the state of Michigan has more than 300 patriots. Jackson County alone has 19, with Columbia Township being home to four: Davis B Hayes (Jefferson Cemetery) and Peter Swartout, Abraham Osbourne, and his wife Loretto Osborn, all of who are buried in the Cement City cemetery.
Van Hoof noted that there are also three patriots buried at a cemetery in Parma, but says it is unusual.
Van Hoof is now working on getting historical marker signs placed on or near the cemeteries to recognize them as a burial place to a Revolutionary War Patriot and approached Columbia Township officials last month to get the process started to get historical markers at both cemeteries.
“This is our project that we hope to be doing up until 2033, which would encompass the 250th anniversary of the revolution.”
He noted that most of Michigan’s patriots were from the lower part of the state, typically in communities along the U.S. 12 corridor. (more below)
Van Hoof said that they cannot locate where every patriot is buried, but he still wants to see them get their due. “A lot of them have been lost to time. There are a number of them that we know are buried on farms and private cemeteries.” To honor them, he hopes to see a historical marker placed on the Brooklyn Village Square, which would recognize the patriots known to be from the Irish Hills. He plans on approaching the village council soon to submit a formal request.
Meanwhile, Van Hoof said that his organization is starting to get people and communities aware of the country’s 250th birthday, which will be coming up on July 4, 2026. He remembers big celebrations in communities alike, Jackson and Brooklyn, during the sesquicentennial, as communities painted fire hydrants and hosted a variety of special events.
To learn more about the projects, visit MSSAR.org.
“We have got a lot of public outreach programs, youth programs, scholarships, and contests,” he said.
Van Hoof also strongly encourages people to look into their genealogies.
“Knowing where you came from makes you a better American,” he said.