On Tuesday, June 3, the Independence Pioneers Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution will celebrate their Centennial at the Midwest Genealogy Center of the Mid-Continent Public Library System.
One hundred years ago on Feb. 26, 1914, a group of 13 women met at the home of Emma Robertson Gentry. Their Charter granted that November – a copy of which is displayed at the MGC – lists 23 founding members; they now have nearly 200. “Independence Pioneers” was aptly named since most of the members were descendants of early Independence pioneer families.
DAR's century-long dedication to education, promoting patriotism and preserving local history are the foundation for five display cases viewable now through June 30 at the entrance to MCG. They showcase DAR's history, its relationship with the Truman Library, and its future.
Patriotism? What a better way than to welcome and honor newly naturalized U.S. citizens annually on Constitution Day ceremonies at the Truman Library? And, their Junior American Citizens Club for school-aged children promotes good citizenship, American heritage and democracy, to encourage future leaders.
Since World War I, DAR has supported patriots… soldiers and veterans… by funding the construction of the Truman Memorial Building (originally the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Building); by dedicating a memorial fountain and bronze plaque there naming "Gold Star Boys" (WWI casualties); by buying war bonds ($51,988.50 in 1942 alone); by honoring the last living WWI veteran, Missouri native Frank Buckles, with a memorial brick at the National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial; and, by marking gravesites of Revolutionary War patriots buried in Jackson County.
You may enjoy several historical markers around town dedicated by the DAR, including some inside and outside the Historic Truman Courthouse. They've even refurbished and re-dedicated many of their original markers from long ago. In 1990, DAR gave $2K toward the Pioneer Woman statue, which, unfortunately, was recently stolen from the National Frontier Trails Museum and destroyed by vandals for scrap metal.
One DAR member, Mrs. W. L. Webb, won the 1917 contest to name the White Hawthorne as the Missouri State Flower. And, DAR has planted 1,000s of memorial trees over the last century.
I'd say starting a library fits an educational mission! During the 1920s, DAR began a genealogical library in partnership with the Independence Public Library (today, the MGC of the Mid-Continent Public Library System). They were also responsible for founding the Jackson County Genealogical Society in the 1980s. And, they've sponsored American History-related essay contests since the 1930s. When the 1859 Jail and Marshal's Home was saved from demolition and opened as a museum by the Jackson County Historical Society in 1959, DAR members volunteered as greeters to help keep the museum open to the public.
Since 1985, they've celebrated the birthday of Independence and America's First Lady, Bess Wallace Truman, by holding an annual Tea and commemoration program at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.
These are just some of the highlights showcasing how this local organization has over the last 100 years improved the awareness of local history, and exemplified the importance of documenting and preserving our past.
Independence Pioneers DAR enjoy monthly luncheon programs on first Tuesdays, March-June and September-December. Prospective members and guests are welcome to attend any of their regular meetings or special events. For more information contact Linda Dimon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David W. Jackson is archives and education director of the Jackson County Historical Society.