D.A.R.: Embracing service and history

Sue Evangelista (Green) is inducted into the local D.A.R. chapter by Regent Mary Ann Cowherd.
Sue Evangelista (Green) is inducted into the local D.A.R. chapter by Regent Mary Ann Cowherd.

Recently, I was given the honor and privilege to witness my sister-in-law’s induction into the local chapter of the D.A.R., Daughters of the American Revolution, known as the Culpeper Minute Men or NSDAR (National Society Daughters Of The American Revolution).

Aside from having worked several blocks from D.A.R. headquarters — a rather beautiful and imposing building in Washington, D.C., encompassing an entire downtown city block and housing one of the nation’s premiere genealogical libraries and Washington’s largest concert hall — I was unaware of the overarching and quite extraordinary mission of this  grassroots international organization. I knew only that membership was predicated upon the ability to prove lineal bloodline descent to an ancestor who participated in the American War of Independance.

The induction ceremony was held in a charming, quaint white washed country church, the members present were from Culpeper, Madison and Rappahannock counties. Since county lands were artificially carved to make way for local seats of government, families transcend geographical boundaries and according to Mary Ann Cowherd, the local Culpeper Chapter Regent, “We draw from Culpeper, Madison and Rappahannock counties, but the majority are members who live out of the area. Across the nation — these ladies have moved or trace lineage from the Culpeper Minute Men.” The members are representative of many local, prominent families whose names are forever etched on country hillsides; the Estes, Sisks, Easthams and more. I was impressed by the conduct of the meeting itself, the camaraderie, patriotism, professionalism, and the literature made available. I  read with great interest about one of the schools they’ve founded in North Carolina, in existence since the early 1900s and one of six such schools nationwide.

D.A.R. embraces a passion for community service, preserving history, educating children, as well as honoring and supporting those who serve our nation. According to D.A.R.’s mission statement: members volunteer millions of service hours annually in their local communities including supporting active duty military personnel and assisting veteran patients, awarding thousands of dollars in scholarships and financial aid each year to students, and supporting schools for underserved children with annual donations exceeding one million dollars.

As one of the most inclusive genealogical societies in the country, D.A.R boasts 180,000 members in 3,000 chapters across the United States and internationally. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible.

Regarding the championing of the shared history of families, and celebrating lineage, it was an  honor for me to meet Dyanne Holt, a member of the local chapter. She, as many in Rappahannock are aware, is the creator of the popular Facebook group called “You know you are from Rappahannock.” The site celebrates local lore, families and friendships. And it allows people who hale from the county to share memories of growing up in Rappahannock, plus information about births, deaths and family reunions, such as the upcoming Pullen reunion. The site now boasts upwards of 1,000 members and counting and crosses county lines. It’s a site carved out and dedicated to honor those who were born and raised here — farmers and business folks, people of all walks and stations of life — including some families who suffered ignoble, aching resettlement. Please contact Dyanne Holt on Facebook should you have interest in joining this invaluable group.

With the help of her brother Billy Green, inductee Sue Evangelista (Green) verified her family back to her “Patriot,” Vincent Garner Sr. During the Revolutionary War, Garner furnished supplies to the American forces, not unlike “Gone with the Wind’s” Rhett Butler’s “runner” occupation in a later war.

Sue, a newly minted member, says: “It was a special day for my brothers (Billy and Larry) and I because my membership acknowledges the verification of what we were told from childhood: ‘Our family goes way back in Virginia.’ My membership in the DAR certifies and takes further the genealogy quest begun by my father, Mason Green.”

Sue adds: “Vincent Garner Jr. lived in Culpeper, as did his daughter Mahala and Hugh Green. I am the sixth generation of Hugh and Mahala Green, and my brothers and I are still in Culpeper.

In addition to proving my first patriot, my first grandchild was born on Sept. 11, 2015. She is named Mehala Vaughan Rosado after her ancestors. My second grandchild was born on Dec. 31 and is named Garner Carmen Robison.  

Baby Garner is the 10th generation of Vincent Garner Sr. Perhaps coincidentally, the evening of the  induction I was watching a rerun of the beloved “MASH” TV series. In this episode, fictional character Margaret Houlihan is blackballed by her mother-in-law from being a member of the D.A.R. and told she is unworthy of such a pedestal of respect. Now I understand why she was visibly upset. If you have an ancestor, a “Patriot,” and are interested in joining the local chapter (which will provide genealogical assistance) contact Regent Mary Ann Cowherd at 540-825-5290 or macowher@live.com.

Congratulations, Sue, on your induction into such a special organization.

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