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Rochester Chapter
Rochester, Minnesota

The History of the Rochester Chapter DAR

In November of 1902, a group of women held a meeting with the State Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The purpose of this meeting was to determine what was required to form a local chapter in Rochester. The requirement was that there had to be twelve ladies with approved applications by the National Society in Washington, D.C. By the time the June 1903 meeting was announced, they had the necessary number of approved applications to form the Rochester Chapter. At the November 1903 meeting, a full slate of officers was named and our chapter was formed.

Over the last 100 years, our local chapter has remained active in our community. In the first decade, we made donations to the YMCA Building Fund and the Women’s Building at the Soldiers’ Home in Minneapolis, and we donated prizes for school essays. Our local chapter raised enough money to furnish one room at the YMCA. The Rochester Chapter was involved in a local project with an Indian Burial Ground north of Rochester.

It was in 1910 when our chapter decided to make a tribute to the pioneer days by attempting to purchase the Dee Log House built in 1862. The owner of the log house gave the dwelling to the City of Rochester in honor of Dr. William Worrall Mayo, to be presented at the opening of Mayo Park. Today, this log house is located at the Olmsted County Historical Society. During this same period, the State Society decided to purchase the Sibley House Historic site in Mendota, MN. Our local chapter joined the Sibley House Association along with the other chapters in the state.

In 1914, our chapter regent (who was also the founder of our chapter) passed away. In her memory the members of our chapter dedicated a sundial to honor her. The sundial was dedicated on May 28, 1914, at Mayo Park and the engraved inscription read, “Amidst Ye Flowers, I Tell Ye Hours.” Unfortunately this sundial was placed in storage and cannot be located at the current time. Hopefully in the future it will be found.

During WWI, our local chapter made collections to help the French Red Cross, raised money for the starving Belgian people, and helped the Boy Scouts raise money. We bought a flag and presented it to the Boy Scouts to honor their service. We also donated to the Olmsted County Red Cross and to the War Relief Fund.

Many of the chapter members kept busy during the war by making jelly and grape juice for the Fort Snelling Hospital. They rolled bandages, knitted items, sewed, and worked for the Red Cross.

After the war was over, the Rochester Chapter assisted in many local, state, national, and international projects: the women held a card party and raised money for the French Orphan Relief; they also raised money to donate to an industrial school in Tamassee, South Carolina (this school is still currently being supported by the DAR); they visited soldiers at the Rochester State Hospital and the Oronoco Sanitarium; they provided an Immigrants’ Manual and a silk flag to each new American Citizen in Rochester; they sent gifts to Ellis Island; sent money to flood victims in Florida; made contributions to Memorial Continental Hall, Constitution Hall, and a bell tower at Valley Forge; and they sponsored a local Girl Scout at summer camp.

In 1932, in honor of George Washington’s 200th birthday, they planted a Washington Elm Tree at Soldier Fields Park. This tree was grafted from a tree that was located in Westchester County, NY, where Washington was headquartered at one time. A bronze plaque was placed at the base of the tree.

In 1937, the chapter started sponsoring a DAR Good Citizen high school student; this student was called a Good Citizen Pilgrim. To honor the Northwest Territorial Centennial, the chapter sponsored a float in the downtown parade. The theme of the float was “Betsy Ross making the first flag.” It was decorated in red, white, and blue.

Two years later the women found themselves sewing for another war: the beginning of WWII. The local radio station provided airtime for five DAR programs. The women remained very active on the local, state, and national levels: they collected magazines, toys and books for Indian children; collected stamps for the veterans; presented 80 flags to new citizens; sent a Girl Scout to summer camp; presented two history essay medals; sponsored a Good Citizen Pilgrim; collected contributions towards the Valley Forge bell tower, Ellis Island, and DAR schools; and assisted the war relief effort as well as on-going work for the Red Cross.

They also thought of those injured in the war by participating in a Red Cross Mobile Blood Drive. Every DAR chapter in Minnesota pulled together and they were able to provide a truck and station wagon fully equipped as a mobile blood plasma unit. There were 32 of these units nationwide. These units were maintained throughout the war by money donated by the DAR.

After the WWII, the Rochester Chapter still remained very active in the community. For example, they sent clothing to St. Mary’s School for Indian Girls at Springfield, South Dakota; and they sent books to the Kate Duncan Smith School.

In the 1960s, forty-nine members of the Rochester Chapter DAR: showed antiques representing 75 years of the DAR; presented a large outdoor flag to the YMCA; donated 60 flags to children in Fountain, MN in grades 1-4; donated money to the restoration project of old houses in Philadelphia, PA; and took up a collection for the Freedom Foundation Center.

In the 1970s, the Methodist Hospital received a flag pole, and the chapter members were invited to a play at the civic theater. Meeting attendance dwindled in the following years. After the autumn of 1976, no meetings were held. Dues were still paid for all members but that was all.

Then, in 1979, the Rochester Chapter was brought back to life. The Post Bulletin advertised the newly reformed organization and invited those who believed they qualified to contact a chapter representative. The chapter rapidly grew and was up and running again. By the end of 1979, there were nineteen paid members. They continued the tradition of being active in the community by donating a copy of the DAR Patriot Index and three supplementals to the Olmsted County History Center (now known as the History Center of Olmsted County). For safekeeping, they voted to have all the chapter's past records placed in the archives at the Olmsted County Historical Society. They started making yearly program booklets and a Chapter History Scrapbook was created; they delivered lap robes to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis; they volunteered at Sibley House; and a Norway Pine was planted at the Olmsted County Historical Society in honor of George Washington’s 250th birthday. They also made an every name index to the 1878 plat map of Olmsted County, in which over 2,000 names were indexed. In 1983, the chapter won a gold ribbon for their yearbook.

In 1985, the Rochester Chapter hosted the State convention. It was headquartered at the Kahler Hotel. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans - a major blizzard developed and much of the convention had to be cancelled. In 1986, a chapter of the Children of the American Revolution - C.A.R. was formed. It was named the Pipestone Society. The C.A.R. gives young people leadership training for their future and the opportunity to make history come alive. The Pipestone Society planted a Norway maple near the Dee Log Cabin at the Olmsted County Historical Society in 1987.

In the 1990s, there were many excellent programs at our chapter meetings. These programs are designed to enrich our members. They covered a variety of topics: Patriotism, American History, Education, American Heritage, and National Defense. These programs still continue at most of our meetings currently held. The chapter’s involvement in the 1990s was still on a national, state, and local level. On a local level, they cleaned and winterized the Dee Log Cabin; they participated in the annual Memorial Day Observance; they donated books to the Spring Valley Public Library; and they held an annual award ceremony for the local and area students who have won the American History and DAR Good Citizen Awards.

The chapter is currently involved with: supporting veterans affairs; hosting the DAR Good Citizens contest; promoting patriotism; preserving history; promoting the display of the American Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance; continued involvement with the Dee Log Cabin; supporting the DAR schools and education; and continuing involvement in the Memorial Day observances.

Our chapter celebrated our 100th anniversary in November of 2003. It was a very fun year. We had four DAR women dress in 1903 costumes and ride in a horse drawn carriage in the Rochesterfest Parade. We also hosted the MN State Conference in October of 2003 at the Radison Hotel in downtown. We donated a memorial bench to Quarry Hill Nature Center in honor of all of the deceased Rochester Chapter DAR members from 1903-2003. We ended our year by making a donation to Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial: we donated a large concrete pad that will be the home for an Iraqi War cannon and a First World War cannon. A special granite paver acknowledges the Rochester Chapter DAR and our 100th Anniversary.

In 2007, several of our members started selling tributes for a Special Veterans Day Edition of the Rochester Post Bulletin. We joined forces with the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial group to pay tribute to all our veterans by helping create this special edition. The funds our chapter received for our part in this special edition was enough for our chapter to start an endowment fund for the future. The Rochester Chapter DAR has edited, sold ads, and written articles for the Special Veterans Day Edition of the Rochester Post Bulletin. This special edition is distributed to over 48,000 individuals and businesses in the SE Minnesota area. In 2012 the Veterans Day Edition was 65 pages in length and won Awards at the National DAR level.

Our chapter nominated Mr. Wayne Stillman for the DAR Community Service Award for his outstanding work with the Soldier's Field Veteran's Memorial. We are very proud of Mr. Stillman and his contribution to the Rochester Community. We were very excited and proud when Mr. Stillman won the National Community Service award in 2007.

In 2008, our chapter started volunteering at Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch at the "Operation Welcome Home" events and the "Wounded Warrior Weekends." We helped serve candle light dinners to the soldiers that had just come back from Iraq and their spouses as part of "Operation Welcome Home." For the "Wounded Warrior Weekend" our members helped serve a picnic BBQ meal. Our chapter has also sponsored a couple to attend "Operation Welcome Home." We continue our support every year to support our veterans.

In June of 2009 we hosted a Naturalization Ceremony here in Rochester. This was the first time our chapter participated in a Naturalization ceremony. We provided cake, punch, and patriotic goodie bags to those new US Citizens. We handed out patriotic goodie bags to the new US Citizens each year since 2009.

Our Chapter, in 2010, nominated Mr. Bob Bardwell for the DAR Community Service Award for his hard work and dedication in creating Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch and for his commitment in helping the military soldiers and veterans coming back from overseas reintegrate with thier families and their community via "Operation Welcome Home". Mr. Bardwell went on the win North Central Division and National. We are very proud to have two National DAR Community Service winners in a three year period.

Our chapter is active in maintaining the Dee Log Cabin. We are also active in the DAR Good Citizen Essay Contests, Christopher Columbus Essay Contest, and the American History Essay Contests. We have also made donations to institutions and projects including the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, DAR Project Patriot, and Tamassee DAR School. We also set up a display at the Rochester Public Library for Constitution Week during the month of September.

In 2012 our chapter sponsored the History Center of Olmsted County for a NSDAR grant to help make repairs of the Dee Log Cabin. The History Center received a $3000.00 grant from NSDAR for this project.

At the MNSSDAR State level our chapter sponsored the History Center of Olmsted County for a matching $400.00 grant (total of $800.00) to help preserve the Cutshall Photographic Collection that was donated to the History Center. This photo collection has over 50,000 photographs and negatives that are to be placed in protective sleeves and inventoried. This is an ongoing project that our chapter members continue to work on even after the grant money has been used.

In 2012 our chapter hosted the MNSSDAR State Conference at the Mariott Hotel in Downtown Rochester. We had two trolley tours: one to Asissi Heights which included a tea; a second tour to Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch the home of "Operation Welcome Home" which included lunch.

In spring of 2013 we planted a tree at the History Center of Olmsted County in memory of deceased Rochester Chapter members from 2003 - 2013.


Created: 14 June 2001
Redesigned: 31 August 2009
Updated: 18 October 2014

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