The New Boston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated their 100th Anniversary in 2011 with a birthday cake for members and layers of stories they shared with the community.
The National DAR was chartered in 1890 by eighteen women who were rejected by the Sons of the American Revolution. Not to be outdone, Mrs. Mary S. Lockwood wrote a letter to the Washington Post asking “Were there no mothers of the Revolution?”
Just over 20 years later, New Boston native Florence Atwood gathered together 13 women, most of her own kin and cousins, and created the New Boston Chapter on March 11, 1911. The DAR now boasts 170,000 members in all 50 states, and eleven countries.
Membership in the organization is limited only to women over the age of 18 who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in “achieving American Independence.” Mary Ann O’Neill, the NB Chapter Registrar, explains that, “If somebody contacts me interested and thinks they have an ancestor, I’ll go over the documentation with them. Then I’ll help them send it to the National society genealogist to either accept or reject. Every fact has to be documented.”
Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in America, and the DAR find even the smallest fact captivating. The original patriots were strong and independent people who literally built a nation, and their descendants take great pride in their revolutionary history.
Heidi Pope, of the NB Chapter, states, “We are all descendants of rabble rousers!”
“It’s genetic,” says Maria Contessa. “There weren’t that many families and they all intermarried. My family, the Byrams, stretched from Cape Cod to New Jersey, Pennsylvania to Ohio, and Kansas to Iowa, California, and New Hampshire. Along the way Ebenezer Byram opened a NJ Inn that is still in operation over 270 years later! You can clearly trace our families growth with the countries growth.”
Every DAR daughter has their own family archive in Washington, DC. Janet Coughlin’s ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, Ruth Lyon’s ancestors hail from Canada, Marie Saitz traces her DAR membership back to her Great-Grandmother, and Ruth Dussault counts 23 Revolutionary ancestors.
“The DAR is the largest women’s volunteer organization in the country”, explains Contessa. Supporting soldier’s is the primary mission, by sending care packages and supplies to deployed soldiers. They also maintain monuments and cemeteries, and Dussault proudly states that, “The DAR has a big job with immigrants being sworn in as citizens!” The Constitution Hall headquarters in D.C. features an Attic Children’s Room maintained by the NH state organization.
The 20 ladies of the New Boston chapter welcome new members and will gladly assist in researching their lineage. Many members are connected to the DAR through relatives, and many more came to the organization later in life, through a need to connect with history. If you believe you qualify for membership, please call Mary Ann O’Neill at 487-3140.