Historical Milestones of the Society of Descendants of Peter Francisco
On Sunday, July 25, 1971, the Society of the Descendants of Peter Francisco (SDPF) met for the first time in an open meeting at the home of J. Quintus Massie and his wife, Louise. The first Newsletter reported as follows: “Approximately one hundred twenty-five descendants and friends of Peter Francisco gathered in the yard under the wide shade of the fine beech tree at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. Quintus Massie in Louisa County, Virginia, and shared the bounty of a picnic.”
Early on, the agenda for the new Society was to make Locust Grove, best-remembered home of Peter Francisco, a Virginia Historic Landmark. The Society quickly accomplished the Landmark listing, then commissioned plans from a well-known preservation architect and began restoration. Assistance was received from many members and friends, including the Portuguese Continental Union. One may now visit the restored Locust Grove by appointment.
1960’s – 2007: Quintus Massie, who served many years as the Society’s first president and later as treasurer, did continuous historical research. Among his many useful contributions were a Peter Francisco Chronology, which became the basis for a more detailed understanding of Peter’s life, and several subsequent books. He uncovered many previously-unknown historical documents. Quintus was honored as the first lifetime member of the Society. He passed away in 2007.
1971: Society of Descendants of Peter Francisco is founded.
The Society sponsored a watershed lecture by Dr. John Manahan in which he described discovery of a historic document, believed to be Peter Francisco’s baptismal certificate, in the Azores.
1972: At the request of the Society, Locust Grove was placed on both The National Register of Historic Places and the State Register of the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission.
1973: The Society played a key role in passage of Joint Resolution 200 in the Virginia State Legislature, declaring March 15th of each year to be Peter Francisco Day. To give credit where credit is due, Massachusetts had passed a similar bill 20 years earlier (in 1953); Rhode Island followed in 1954.
Leadership for these pioneering successes was provided by past and present members and honorees of the Portuguese Continental Union. Peter Francisco’s importance has now been recognized by resolutions in other states.
1975: The Society was awarded tax-exempt status by United States Internal Revenue Service- Peter Francisco Chronology completed. Architectural drawings completed for Locust Grove restoration.
1979: SDPF receives a grant for partial restoration of Locust Grove from the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, with federal matching funds from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
1980: Publication of Peter Francisco: The Portuguese Patriot, by William Arthur Moon. The Society provided timelines and additional research assistance to the author. (While the author did not take all of the advice provided by the SDPF and its Advisors, the book represents a compilation of many of the materials on Peter Francisco that were available at the time. It has been an important work-book for Society Members when advancing historic research.)
1986: Phase I restoration of Locust Grove.
1987: The Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia Summer Field School conducted an archaeology dig at Locust Grove. This was by invitation of the SDPF and led by Dr. James W. Jordan, Ph. D Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Archaeology Field School. The dig was covered by Olde Times Magazine.
1995: Phase II Restoration of Locust Grove began, in cooperation with the family of James F. Morano, Jr.
1997: SDPF advised on the information regarding Peter Francisco included in a mainstream textbook for middle school students entitled, American History, The Early Years, by Donald A. Ritchie and Albert S. Broussard (19997: Glenco/McGraw Hill).
1998: Edith Francisco Buckley traveled to Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal. She toured the island and visited Igreja Catolica Santo Ant6nio, believed to be the baptismal place of Peter Francisco. Also in this year, the Portuguese Reader’s Digest published a short synopsis of Peter’s life.
The Society encouraged Robert Dilly (age 7), a first grade student from Beckley, West Virginia, who traveled to Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina; conducted phone interviews with Peter Francisco’s descendants; produced a 20-page notebook project; and then performed stunning historic reenactments to win first prize in his school’s Interest Fair.
2000: 1st Vice President Erin Wilson and Recording Secretary/Treasurer Anne Wilson began writing bi-annual newsletters (September and February). The membership selected the name “The Virginia Giant” for the newsletter. Anne began maintaining records of members, mailing lists, dues paid and other information.
2001: In cooperation with the Society, the Honorable Edmund Dinis [please note spelling], former State Senator from Dartmouth, Massachusetts, delivered 211 copies of William Arthur Moon’s book, Peter Francisco: The Portuguese Patriot, to twenty-five schools in the northeastern U.S.
Fundraisers: The first Limited Edition Christmas ornament for the Society (oval ceramic with picture of Locust Grove) – created by Erin Mwalwanda.
2002: The first Lifetime Memberships in the Society were presented to J. Quintus Massie and Edith Francisco Buckley “for outstanding and faithful service as member, officer, and representative of the Society since its organization in 1971 and for faithfully fulfilling the purpose of the Society …” In addition to receiving certificates, Lifetime Members are exempt from the payment of dues to the Society.
Edith Francisco Buckley participated as both a member of the Society and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in a grave-marking ceremony held at Peter Francisco’s final resting place in Shockoe Cemetery. This commemorated Commonwealth Chapter’s one hundredth anniversary.
2003: “Walking in Peter’s Footsteps” slogan was adopted for use in newsletters to promote holding our meetings in a variety of locations.
2005: Edith Francisco Buckley participated in another grave-marking ceremony with Commonwealth Chapter, NSDAR, in Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia, this time honoring Peter Francisco’s daughter, Susan Brooke Francisco Pescud Schacht.
2006: Edith Francisco Buckley represented the SDPF at the Official Inauguration of the Peter Francisco Monument in Honor of all Veterans, Grupo Amigos Da Terceira, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
2007: (New Bedford, Massachusetts) John Duke IV, President of SDPF, and Edith Francisco Buckley, participated in the rededication of the Peter Francisco Memorial sponsored by the City of New Bedford and the Massachusetts Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Francisco J. Mendonca and Edith Buckley were interviewed by the Portuguese-language television program, Contacto, which presented a brief summary of the story of Peter Francisco. The program can still be viewed (2014) at PGM 162 EUA Contacto NJ – Peter Francisco.
Fundraisers: First annual magnet (small portrait of Peter Francisco) created by Erin W. Mwalwanda.
2009: Descendant Donald Pruitt, Ph.D., and his wife Alla, completed genealogical research on the family of Peter Francisco and his first wife, Susannah Anderson. The genealogy is available to all researchers on the Society website www.peterfrancisco.org/genealogy.
2010: The Peter Francisco Memorial Scholarship Committee was created. The scholarship will promote the purpose of the Society and help defray the cost of a college education to a qualified, graduating high school senior. Committee members: Jane McCroskey, Chad Pike and Elizabeth McLeod (Chairperson).
June 26: Long Island, New York – The Portuguese Continental Union bestowed Peter Francisco Awards upon the Society and upon 2nd Vice President Edith Francisco Buckley for her lifetime of work in promoting Peter Francisco.
July 10: Richmond, Virginia – The honor of a Memorial Lifetime Membership in Perpetuity was conferred upon Peter Francisco by the Richmond Randolph Lodge of the Freemasons. Society members were invited guests at the ceremony and reception held afterwards. Many of our nation’s founding fathers, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock, as well as Peter’s friend, the Marquis de Lafayette, were Masons.
Fundraisers: Sets of Locust Grove notecards (created by Erin Mwalwanda).
June 26, 2010: Libby McLeod traveled to Long Island, New York along with Edith Francisco Buckley. Libby received the Peter Francisco Award on behalf of the Society. Edith Francisco Buckley simultaneously received the Peter Francisco Award for her lifetime of work in promoting Peter Francisco.
2011: The Library of Virginia is procured as a permanent home for the archives of the Society by Sue Terminella.
Gail Coffman accepted the position of Historical Advisor to the Society.
April 2: Buckingham County, Virginia – A certificate bestowing Memorial Life Membership to Peter Francisco as a charter member of Mason’s Hall Lodge 1785, A.F. & A.M. was presented by Barrye Absher to Libby McLeod on behalf of the Society.
November 11: Veteran’s Day – Richmond, Virginia – Society members attended the unveiling of a new marker placed at the foot of Peter Francisco’s tombstone in Shockoe Hill Cemetery. The marker was placed by the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
November 12, 2012: President Libby McLeod, Edith Francisco Buckley and Scott Francisco Buckley attended the PALCUS Gala at the National Harbor in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. They met with President Silva and the First Lady of Portugal who were in attendance. Edith Francisco Buckley presented President Silva with a scroll of the Auto-Biography of Peter Francisco written by his son Dr. Benjamin Francisco.
2012: Honorary membership is bestowed upon General Martin E. Dempsey, U. S. Army Chief of Staff.
March 10: Richmond, Virginia – The Society presented a framed reproduction of the portrait of Peter Francisco that hangs in the State Capitol of Virginia to the Richmond Randolph, No. 19 Masons Lodge, and hosted a reception following the presentation.
October 9: Buckingham County, Virginia – A second reproduced portrait of Peter Francisco was presented to the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors. The portrait hangs at the entrance to the auditorium which bears Peter’s name of the new administration building. The Library of Virginia assisted in the reproduction process.
March 16: Richmond, Virginia – The Society met at the Library of Virginia to celebrate Peter Francisco Day and to deliver Society records, etc. for storage in the Archives of the Library.
Libby McLeod shared the Proclamation by the Honorable Martin O’Malley, Governor of the State of Maryland, which declared March 15, 2013, as Peter Francisco Day in Maryland.
May 23: Buckingham County, Virginia – On behalf of the Society, President Libby McLeod awarded the first Peter Francisco Memorial Scholarship of $500 to Jennifer Walker, a graduating senior at Buckingham High School.
Fundraisers: Peter Francisco postcards are offered to members.
May 31-June 1:The first annual Peter Francisco Memorial Tennis Tournament was held at Greenbelt Tennis Association, Greenbelt, MD.
October 19: The library in the Maysville Manor Bed & Breakfast in Buckingham, Virginia, was dedicated in honor of Peter Francisco by owners Herbert and Nancy Maxey.
Winners of our Peter Francisco Memorial Scholarships for 2014: Robyn L. Cotney of Weeki Wachee, FL, who will be attending the University of Florida; and McLain C. Faett of Glen Allen, VA, who will be attending the University of Virginia.
Celebration of the 250th Anniversary of Peter Francisco’s arrival in America.
Descendant Sue Terminella completed genealogical research on the family of Peter Francisco and his second wife Catherine Fauntleroy Brooke. The genealogy is available to all researchers on the Society website here.
March 15: Meeting at Capitol, Richmond, VA, in celebration of Peter Francisco Day and wreath-laying ceremony.
May 23-25: 2nd Annual Peter Francisco Memorial Scholarship Tennis Tournament at Greenbelt Tennis Association, Greenbelt, MD.
June 20-25: Trip to Terceira Island, The Azores, from which Peter Francisco was abducted in 1765.
October 17: Meeting in Hopewell, Virginia, where Peter was abandoned.
Winners of our Peter Francisco Memorial Scholarships for 2015: Lucas R. Beissner of Yorktown, VA, who is attending the United States
Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; and Edward A. Fortunato of Fairfax Station, VA, who is attending the College of William and
Mary in Williamsburg, VA.
Winner of our 2016 Peter Francisco Memorial Scholarship is Dakota J. “Coty” Willey of Spring Hill, FL, who will be attending the University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.
Presentations made by member Don Pruitt about Scott’s Lake, The Little Nightcap, and Peter’s presence during the return visit to Virginia by the Marquis deLafayette are included on the Society’s website.
October 22: The title of President Emerita was bestowed upon founding member, Edith Mae Francisco Buckley, during the ceremony honoring her for her many contributions to the Society at our meeting in Williamsburg, VA. Read Edith’s letter of gratitude here, or see the February 2017 issue of the Society’s newsletter, The Virginia Giant.
March 11: Special guest at the Society’s celebration of Peter Francisco Day in Virginia was Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary of Administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Winners of our 2017 Peter Francisco Memorial Scholarship are: Chelsea E. Bickley of Louisa County, VA, who is attending Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA; and Tyler W. Twiggs of Yorktown, VA, who is attending Clemson University, Clemson, SC.
October 14: Members toured the new American Revolution Museum in Yorktown, VA.