More than a century ago, the Tunkhannock Chapter DAR held its first formal meeting on June 9, 1900. Prior to that time, the ladies had to ride to Pittston by train to attend the meetings of the Dial Rock Chapter. Because of the schedule of meetings and the rail travel, members had to spend the night in Pittston and return home the next morning. This was very frustrating. Finally Mrs. Frances Piatt and Mrs. Martha Bunnell declared that a local chapter should be formed. Initially, forty ladies showed interest; 22 actually joined.
The initial project of the Chapter was to find and preserve any relics from the early history of this region, especially memorabilia from the Revolutionary War. Some of these relics are incorporated into the Museum of the Wyoming County Historical Society. Others are in the Chapter room at the Wyoming County Historical Society. The Chapter wanted to identify any participants in the Revolutionary War in Wyoming County. Two marble panels containing veteranís names were made. They hang in the corridor of the Wyoming County Court House. More names to the list were added at a later date.
Related to these two objectives was a third: that they identify and mark the campsites of General John Sullivanís army where they stopped in Wyoming County on their expedition against the Six Nations of the Iroquois Indians. The ladies became so interested in the Sullivan markers that after one of their meetings in 1902, all those present walked downtown to the Tannery where officials had pointed out a spot for a stone to commemorate the armyís camp near the local spring. The marker was obtained and can still be seen near the corner of Tioga and Warren streets. The other site in Wyoming County is in the Black Walnut area. Here, a farmer, Mr. Carter, gave them the needed 16 square feet of land for the stone marker. In digging at the site, he uncovered an Indian arrowhead and presented it to the DAR. In 1929 government officials in Harrisburg turned over the maintenance of these markers to the public and to the Tunkhannock Chapter DAR.
In 1907, it was learned that the Tunkhannock Hose House would be offered for sale. The fact that there was only $560 in the treasury didnít hinder these public spirited women who decided to purchase the building and on June 1, 1909, the deal was made. Renovation was needed, especially the front where a colonial door was installed. Other work was done before it could be opened for use.
Despite financial restrictions, the ladies decided they should take the lead in adding a needed cultural phase to the community. They decided to start a local public free library. They added shelves to an upper room of their house and began to add books. On January 14, 1911, the library was open for business. They were not quite ready to loan out books and at first it was simply a reading room. By March, however they were ready to start loaning out books Ė all 338 of them. The library was kept open two days each week and various ladies of the Chapter served as librarians. Eventually the library moved to the first floor and in April 1931 an addition was added to the buildings. The Library Board decided to buy the building in the 1980ís. At this time the Historical Society was taking over the old Sand Hill School and offered a room in the old school building reserved for their use if they would give up their house. The Library continued to grow and it became the Tunkhannock Public Library. An active Library Board of town residents continues to see that it is financed and staffed.
Because the DAR aims to pass on to the next generation the love and appreciation for the founders of our country, we encourage the study of American history in the local schools. We sponsored a contest for the best essay on a specific American history topic. This contest is so popular that it continues today and each year the Tunkhannock Area Middle School participates in the essay contest. Certificates and awards are presented to the winners from each grade, 5 - 8. The high school students have the opportunity to participate in the Christopher Columbus Essay Contest. A Good Citizens award is presented to the outstanding high school senior each year representing good citizenship. The winner is chosen by the staff in local schools. Chapter winners are sent on to the State, District and National contests.
Constitution Week, September 17-23, is remembered and promoted each year. September is the month when our Constitution was signed in Philadelphia. We encourage "bell ringing" at 4 PM on September 17 all across the United States to remember this important occasion. Bells are also rung on July 4th.
As the members of DAR look back over the past century, they feel a great sense of pride. They feel they have encouraged the study of our country to become the type of American community it is by encouraging the study of and the participation in our legacy of democracy. They have helped the citizens in our area to know, honor and love our country. We look forward to a future where it will ever be a country "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
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