Pack Horse Ford DAR marks a century
SHEPHERDSTOWN – The Pack Horse Ford Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated their centennial on Feb. 20. The chapter was begun with a group of ladies on Feb. 22, 1916-George Washington’s birthday.
The approximate 125 attendees in the room for the gala at the Bavarian Inn were members of the chapter and their husbands and children, members of other chapters and friends, and dignitaries.
The festivities began with a welcome from Regent Cheryl A. Brown, the posting of the colors by the color guard of the fairly-new Henrietta Bedinger Lee Society, National Society Children of the American Revolution (NSCAR), and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Chaplain Mary Wood led the prayer and reading from the 1903 DAR ritual which states, in part that the Daughters seek God’s strength and blessings on their country. They pledge to honor the memory of their ancestors, renew their pledge of loyalty to their country and flag, and emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism.
Anna Chapline Phillips organized the chapter at her home in 1916.
Brown said, “The local newspaper reported at the time, ‘Twas was a good day for a good deed, and a happy culmination of a long cherished ambition of Mrs. Phillips. Rooms of her home were beautifully and suggestively decorated with flags and bunting, and patriotic emblems. And even the famous cherry tree and hatchet were in evidence.'”
She continued, “Today, almost 100 years later, among bunting and blossoms, we gather to commemorate what has transpired since that occasion.”
Following the singing of “America the Beautiful” and a meal, congratulatory greetings were read from past officers and officials like Sen. Joseph Manchin III.
Pack Horse Ford Chapter Librarian Kathy Sholl and First Vice Regent Patricia Toffling presented “An Engaging Tea with Martha Washington and Abigail Adams in 1789.” The skit brought a history lesson of the country’s first First Ladies planning state dinners and events.
Also speaking were General Adam Stephen Chapter, National Society Sons of the American Revolution’s President Frank C. Khare, Jr., Taylor Fritz of NSCAR, and West Virginia DAR Regent Barbara Frankenberry.
Wearing pink for the cherry blossom motif, Frankenberry said, “It is an honor to be here today. We have 1,835 (West Virginia) members as of this past week. Think about 100 years ago. Our society was only 25 years old. I am so proud of the Pack Horse Ford Chapter, not so much for what you did 100 years ago but what you continue to do every year. I’ve been a member since 1981, and I’ve become friends with so many of you.”
Frankenberry said while those present would not see the next 100th celebration, they could imagine the great things members will do in the future.
Shepherdstown Mayor Arthur J. Auxer III expressed his congratulations.
“I’m proud to be a member of the SAR” said Auxer. “We’re having this meeting in the hub of history in the Shenandoah Valley. We had the Bee Line march through here, from Morgan’s Grove 600-some miles to Boston, to fight in the Revolutionary War. There were over 20 people from Shepherdstown who made that march.”
Pack Horse Ford was a famous crossing place on the Potomac River, one mile east of Shepherdstown. It has an important place in the history of the Virginias, since its situation determined the site of Shepherdstown and opened the way to the settlement of the Valley. The Bee Line marchers had the honor of being the first company of soldiers from south of the Potomac to be greeted by General Washington. The Pack Horse Ford Chapter erected a monument and tablet to these brave soldiers at the south end of Shepherdstown on October 28, 1932. Exactly 80 years later members rededicated the monument in its new location in Elmwood Cemetery, also south of Shepherdstown.
Community service, placing markers, restoring markers, and helping historical societies and other entities are part of DAR’s pledge to service and patriotism.
As a member lit a candle for every decade of the past century, Chapter Historian Cindy Nicewarner reflected on projects. One was hosting the 11th West Virginia state conference and an auto tour visiting the new James Rumsey monument in November 1916. Between 1926 and 1936, they raised $614 toward the building of DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
Just a few of their projects have included a gold Good Citizenship pin award in 1942 to Shepherdstown High School student Lucille Banks, who was present for the ceremony Saturday; DAR marker at the Lutheran Graveyard in 2012; sponsorship of a grant to Berkeley Co. Historical Society; and an Old Norborne Cemetery, Martinsburg, marker for Ann Stephen Dandridge Hunter, daughter of Major General Adam Stephen.
The 2016 project for Pack Horse Ford’s centennial will be dedication of a commemorative DAR marker on the War Memorial Building in Shepherdstown on May 30. The marker will read, “In memory of the many Patriots from Shepherdstown and vicinity who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for American Independence 1775-1783”.
“Shepherdstown and vicinity had more men lose their lives in the American Revolution than any other war,” said Brown. “That is our 100th birthday gift to Shepherdstown.”
Past member Carol Durand was present. Durand grew up with DAR being a part of everyday life. Her mother was chapter regent in the 1950s.
Durand said, “I love the historical part. It allowed me to be a page once for the West Virginia Legislature. I learned a lot about the state that way. People were interesting and fascinating. It was very worthwhile.”
Elizabeth Lowe was chapter registrar for many years. The registrar helps new members in ancestor research and joining the organization.
Lowe said, “I’ve been in DAR about 30 years. I was interested in genealogy and got invited to join. My mother was in this same chapter, though. It was a tradition.”
Lowe helped plan the 100th celebration.
“We met for over a year making the plans. It was a lot of work but we had a lot of good leadership. And we have a dedicated, terrific regent in Cheryl. She never leaves a stone unturned.”
Neither Lowe nor Durand have children or grandchildren in DAR, but Lowe said she hopes hers will join.
Children are important to DAR and SAR to keep the flame of patriotism and community service alive. In 2014, the chapter sponsored formation of the Henrietta Bedinger Lee Society, National Society Children of the American Revolution, and members helped in the 100th ceremony.
For more information on the NSDAR, see www.dar.org, www.wvdar.org, or contact a local chapter member.