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Mrs. Mary Sarah Slocumb Cotton

Photograph Courtesy of the Portsmouth Public Library
The origin of Joseph Spencer Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, goes back to early 1898. At the time, there were only two members of the society in Portsmouth, Mrs. Mary Sarah Slocumb Cotton and Mrs. Sarah Merrill McCall. Both were members of the Cincinnati Chapter. On the solicitation of several friends, and on being urged by Mrs. Rathburn, the State Regent, later came to be known as Joseph Spencer Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. After some inquiry and investigation of records, thirty-five eligible women were found who desired to unite with the National Society with the intention of forming a chapter in Portsmouth. The application for a chapter was signed by Mrs. Cotton and Mrs. McCall. Mrs. Cotton became the first regent through appointment by the State Regent.

The organizational meeting was held May 13, 1898, at the home of the regent. At this meeting, under the National Constitution and by advice of the State Regent. Mrs. Cotton appointed the following officers for the first year: vice regent, Sarah Merrill McCall; secretary, Anna Randall Ross; registrar, Alice K. Hutchins; historian, Louise G. Leete. The first Monday of each month was set as the time for the regular meeting. A committee composed of the vice regent and Miss Lucy Williams Hall was named to formulate bylaws for the chapter.

Mrs. Sarah Merrill McCall

Photograph Courtesy of the Portsmouth Public Library
During the meeting, there was a discussion of a name for the chapter. The names Wayne, Findley and Spencer were proposed in honor of the Revolutionary patriots, General Anthony Wayne, Major James L. Findley and General Joseph Spencer. The Spencer name was selected as General Spencer was the ancestor of the regent, Mrs Cotton. Later it was found that a chapter of that name was already in existence and so the "Spencer" chapter was changed to the Joseph Spencer Chapter. The charter was issued June 30, 1898.

The Portsmouth Daily Times, Portsmouth, Ohio, June 14, 1898


Chapter of This National Society to Be Organized Here.

Its Objects and Those Who Are Eligible--List of Charter Members--Mrs. Cotton Chapter Regent

A chapter of "The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution" is soon to be organized in this city. The meeting for organization will be held Saturday afternoon, at the home of the chapter regent, Mrs. D.B. Cotton. Thirty-eight have been duly qualified and regularly admitted into the national society by the National Board of Management, and will be the charter members of this local chapter.

The objects of this society, which has been attracting so much attention during the past few years are:
  1. To perpetuate the memory of the spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence by the acquisition and protection of historical spots and the erection of monuments; by the encouragement of historical research in relation to the Revolution and the publication of its results; by the preservation of documents and relics, and of the records of the individual services of Revolutionary soldiers and patriots, and by the promotion of celebrations of all patriotic anniversaries.
  2. To carry out the injunction of Washington in his farewell address to the American people, to promote as an object of primary importance institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, this developing an enlightened public opinion, and affording to young and old such advantages as shall develop in them the largest capacity for performing the duties of American citizens.
  3. To cherish maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom, to foster true patriotism and love of country, and to aid in securing for mankind all the blessings of liberty.
Others will be added to the membership of this chapter from time to time by a vote of all the members. "Any woman may be eligible who is of the age of eighteen years and who is descended from a man or woman who with unfailing loyalty rendered material aid to the cause of independence, etc., provided that she be acceptable to the society."

Mrs. D.B. Cotton is the chapter regent, and following is the list of charter members:

Mrs. O.C. McCall, Mrs. H. Harshan, Mrs. Sarah Renshaw, Mrs. W. Kinney, Mrs. C.C. Brown, Mrs. Dudley Hutchins, Mrs. Phelps Leete, Mrs. S. Reed, Mrs. Sanford, Mrs. A. Anderson, Mrs. F. Williams, Mrs. Lorin Hall, Mrs. Charlotte Smith, Mrs. W. Calder, Mrs. F.B.M. Corson, Mrs. Oscar Newman, Mrs. Sam Rice, Mrs. H.P. Pursell, Mrs. J.W. Overturf, Miss Anna R. Ross, Miss Julia A. Kinney, Miss Bessie Anderson, Miss Grace Cotton, Miss Bertha Wait, Miss Pearl Fulton, Miss Edith Fulton, Miss Eliza Smith, Miss Jessie Smith, Miss Lucy Hall, Miss Julia Hall, Miss Kate D. Kinney, Miss Helen Biggs, Mis Sarah Biggs, Miss Janette Silcox, Miss Isabel Kinney, Mrs. Winnie G. McBride, of Franklin Furnace, and Mrs. Lottie Williams, of Washington, D.C.


The records of the Spencer family of East Haddam, Connecticut, tell us that Joseph Spencer was born in East Haddam, October 6, 1714, and that he died there on January 13, 1789. He was the son of Isaac and Mary Seldon Spencer who were among the first settlers of East Haddam. Nothing is recorded of his early history except that he joined the church of the Millington Society, March 14, 1746. He was elected Deacon on November 13, 1767, and he retained this office until his death. General Spencer was twice married: first to Martha Brainard, a cousin of the well-known family of missionaries to India. To this marriage were born three sons and three daughters. One of the daughters married Colonel Joseph Cone.

In 1750, General Spencer was appointed to the legislature and served for fourteen years. In 1753, he was made Judge of Probate Court and served until his death. In 1754, arose the Seven Years War between the French and English concerning the territory bordering along the Ohio. In this conflict, Virginia, New York and New England troops took part. Joseph Spencer participated in the expedition against Louisbourg, Ticonderoga and Crown Point, at that time, he had risen from Lieutenant Colonel and served at the siege of Quebec. In May 1766, he was made Colonel of the Second Regiment and was also appointed a member of the Governor's Council.

General Spencer represented the State of Connecticut in the Continental Congress in 1779. He was also made the first major General in Connecticut in 1779 and retained this position until his death.

In recognition of the worthy service of General Spencer, the people of Connecticut have placed his portrait in the State House at Hartford and have erected a monument at Haddam.

(The foregoing was taken from a speech of Mr. Loomis delivered at the dedication of the monument erected to commemorate the life of General Joseph Spencer at Haddam, Connecticut.)

Members of the 1931 Joseph Spencer Chapter
Members of the 1931 Joseph Spencer Chapter