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Col. Richard Somers Chapter, New Jersey Society, Sons of the American Revolution

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Despite heavy rains, members of the Col. Richard Somers Chapter of the SAR, government officials, members of the Gen. Lafayette Chapter of the DAR, local history buffs and members of the public gathered on Saturday, October 8, 2005, to commemorate the 227th anniversary of the Battle of Chestnut Neck and the 100th Anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Port Republic. In addition, the SAR honored Port Republic Mayor Gary Giberson, awarding him it’s Good Citizenship Medal “in recognition of notable services in behalf of our American principles”.
A large white tent with three decorative side walls provided indoor comfort to the seated and standing crowd. Its fourth side, which was open, provided a panoramic view of the SAR’s Privateers Monument.

The Battle of Chestnut Neck was the only battle fought on Atlantic County soil during the Revolutionary War. It took place on October 6, 1778. One hundred and fifty local militiamen were forced to retreat in the face of superior British naval forces, which then burned down the privateering village of Chestnut Neck and it’s port. Of interest is that Franklin Kemp’s definitive history of the battle in his book, “A Nest of Rebel Pirates,” revels that one of the homes destroyed that day by the British was that of James Giberson, ancestor of Port Republic’s mayor. Reverend Norman H. Thomas, president of the SAR chapter, welcomed the assemblage. Mark C. Denovchik, chaplin, said the opening prayer.

Rev. Thomas then introduced State Assemblymen, Frank Blee and Kirk Conover. They spoke briefly to pay homage to those who fought at the site and all the service men and women who have since fought to preserve our nation’s freedoms.

The principal guest speaker, John W. Risley Jr., prior recipient of the Good Citizenship Medal, stated that “our thirst to learn as Americans has made us a successful country.”

Port Republic City Councilwoman Doris Bugdon, who introduced Mayor Giberson, listed his accomplishments adding that since he has served as mayor for 35 years, he is now the senior mayor in Atlantic County.

As Rev. Thomas looked on, awards chairman William Schmitz presented the mayor with the SAR Good Citizenship Medal.

Mayor Giberson said that he accepted the medal not only for himself, but for the people of Port Republic and the volunteers who shed their blood in the War for Independence.
In closing, Rev. Thomas thanked all in attendance and asked for a moment of silence for all our men and women in the military.

From left are Rev. Norman H. Thomas, Mayor Gary Giberson, and William Schmitz.
Story By Jo Distefano Kapus