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MARY TYLER CHAPTER, NSDAR

History

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Miss Jennie Mae Perry was confirmed on March 6, 1906, by the National Board of the NSDAR as the organizing regent for a new chapter known as the Tyler Chapter. The chapter was actually founded on February 28, 1907, with twelve charter members. Mrs. John Duncan was regent. Their first gifts were to Carnegie Library and consisted of eight lineage books valued at $1.00 each. Joseph Habersham's Historical Collection was donated later in the year.

In 1909 some changes occurred. The name was changed, with permission of the National Board, to MARY TYLER CHAPTER, in honor of the mother of John Tyler, our tenth president. John Tyler's son wrote the chapter thanking them for honoring Mary Tyler and put the group on his mailing list to receive the William and Mary Quarterly. Also, a medal was awarded to a student for the best essay on the patriotic subject of "The Founding of the American Navy." The medal selected cost $5.00. At the time, there was $6.00 in the treasury.

The chapter presented a circus to pay the cost of placing brass tablets on either side of the courthouse, one to honor John Tyler, and the other to honor Col. James Smith, for whom Smith County was named. We placed memorial benches in the courthouse plaza; made a gift of historical pictures to the high school, one of Old Ironsides and one of George Washington; presented a flag to Carnegie Library; and placed historical markers on highways leading into Tyler. In 1927, we planted crepe myrtle, fruit, dogwood, redbud, and holly trees along the highways in cooperation with the State Highway Department and Home Demonstration Agency of Smith County. At least 6,000 trees were planted as a result.

Other projects followed. The chapter placed a sundial in Oakwood Cemetery, Tyler, Texas; donated a bell for the Bell Tower at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; donated a sewing machine to teach immigrant women to sew; collected items for making crafts; distributed flags and taught flag etiquette to children in the schools; and marked historical sites researched by Dr. Woldert.

Mary Tyler Chapter has also had down times. At one time, we discussed whether to continue having meetings since only five to seven members would attend. However, a vote on the resulting motion yielded not one dissenting vote. We strode valiantly on.

By 1936, the chapter was growing and many members were made state committee chairmen. Joy Grisham, of Tyler, designed historical plates depicting Tyler industry and beauty. These honored Governors Roberts, Hubbard, and Hogg. One hundred of these plates were ordered at $2.00 and $3.00 each. Plates were important to raising money for many years.

The Junior Membership Committee was established in the 1940s. Their favorite projects were the two Tyler Day Nurseries and USO work at Camp Fannin. Thirteen foreign war brides were invited to the chapter's George Washington tea and were given DAR Manuals for Citizenship. The first chapter recording of a naturalization ceremony was in 1948. Chapter members served coffee afterwards.

All through the many years, loyal members of Mary Tyler Chapter served the community in many ways - focusing on schools and youth, essay contests, good citizens, naturalization ceremonies, and Flag Day observances. The chapter was also instrumental in starting a genealogical library at the Carnegie Public Library. In the beginning it was manned by volunteers from Mary Tyler Chapter and was the foundation for the present Genealogy Department of the Tyler Public Library. That is truly a lasting gift.

(Taken from the notes of Betty Brown Smith, past regent and present curator, Mary Tyler Chapter, NSDAR).