Witness Tree Chapter History


What's in a Name?

The Witness Tree Chapter gets its name from a group of citizens and soldiers who stood around a large oak tree outside of a church on a Sunday morning in September 1777 to join hands and pledge their allegiance to a new cause. Colonel Alexander Lowry and his men were among those at the church who rode out after the "witness" ceremony to answer a call by George Washington that the British were about to invade Pennsylvania at Chadds Ford on the Brandywine. In 1897, the young women forming a new Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter in the area, found it easy to select "Witness Tree" as the name for their chapter, because at that time everyone knew the story, the location, and the honor they gave to what was still a famous historical event. While the massive wars of the 20th century may have supplanted this ceremonial event from many citizens' minds, the name of the chapter WITNESS TREE will keep it alive.

While the church and Donegal Society from the famous witnessing still exists (Donegal Presbyterian Church & Scottish Society), the tree had to removed, finally, in 1991 due to severe rot and only after the Donegal Society worked for years to save it. They estimated by ring count that the tree had stood outside of the Donegal Presbyterian Church about 250 years, which is the exact age of the church. The white oak tree was described as a "mighty giant" but no photographs have been found of it in its prime.

Current Donegal Presbyterian Church

Monument to Those that Served

Although weathered and faded now, 110 years since it was erected, the 81 names of those early patriots are still readable on all four sides of the Witness Tree Monument. The Witness Tree Chapter's first project was to raise money for a battle monument to commemorate those who served during the Revolutionary War. With a jubilant response, the new Witness Tree DAR Chapter made plans to dedicate the monument less than one year later on October 4, 1899 on the grounds of the Donegal Presbyterian Church. True to Lillian Evan's word, the monument honored all of those who served, including those who gave their lives.

Dedication Ceremony of Marker