Decorations of red, white and blue brightened the Henry Ford Room at the Historic Summit Inn in Farmington as the Great Meadows Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution gathered for a recent luncheon to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
“There were 13 women who had a dream. That’s how this chapter came to be,’’ Laurel Beth Marker of Hopwood, chapter regent, told the audience that included state and district officials, members from other chapters, representatives from other lineage organizations and an honor guard from Vietnam Veterans Inc. of Fayette County.
Great Meadows Chapter, which is based in Uniontown and named for the site where George Washington and his soldiers fought the opening battle of the French and Indian War, is part of a national, nonprofit, nonpolitical volunteer women’s service organization founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. According to its website, the DAR is “dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.’’
DAR members, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, 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 under-served children with annual donations exceeding one million dollars, the website explained.
In addition to contributing to national efforts, the Great Meadows Chapter annually provides history certificates to fifth- and eighth-grade students in the Uniontown Area School District and a good citizen medal to a graduating Uniontown senior. They’ve made donations to a tree fund at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Wharton Township and honored local veterans as part of the 50th Anniversary National Commemoration of the Vietnam War.
In years past, Great Meadows participated in a DAR program to map cemeteries that include graves of Revolutionary War soldiers and the installation of a Madonna of the Trail monument along Route 40 near Beallsville, Washington County, which is part of a national DAR program that installed 12 monuments across the across the country dedicated to the spirit of American pioneer women.
Deanna Sherbondy of Connellsville, a 40-year member who was among those honored at the luncheon for significant anniversaries, said, “I just enjoy that we are working at honoring our ancestors and history and preserving it for the future of our country. It’s a very patriotic organization.’’
At the luncheon, the 13 charter members were remembered, including Edwina Null Fuller Work, first regent. Guest Christine Buckelew, of Uniontown, president of the Fayette County Historical Society, explained she and her husband, Tom, now own a painting of Work that hung for many years at Uniontown Hospital where Work was instrumental in helping with the hospital’s early expansion.
“They were all women who were prominent in the community,’’ explained Janet Marker of Hopwood, who is Marker’s mother and a past regent. “They were involved in charity work, church work. They were teachers. They were active and interested in helping the spread of God, home and country.’’
Laurel Beth Marker told guests how pleased the charter members would be to know that 100 years later, the membership included doctors, nurses, educators at all levels and businesswomen.
“I think one of the things farthest from their minds would be a little girl form Connellsville who graduated from school and went to work for NASA,’’ Laurel Beth Marker said of member Marilyn Weaver.
Janet Marker, who was noted to be the chapter’s busiest member, was honored for her service. A member who will mark her 40th anniversary in December, she has held several offices, including serving four times as regent. The chapter presented Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Wharton Township with a donation to its tree fund in Janet Marker’s name.
Janet Marker told the crowd her interest in DAR started as a child when she and her classmates performed a program of local history for the Great Meadows Chapter. She didn’t join until she was married and her children were older but she became an active member from the start.
“DAR is such a great organization with so much to offer,’’ said Janet Marker. “If you are willing to give of yourself, you are the one who benefits. I’m happy to be a part of DAR. It’s opened up a whole new world for me.’’
The chapter also gave donations to Cynthia Sweeney, of Butler, the Pennsylvania state regent, for her project involving specially trained dogs for veterans with service-related injuries, and to the Pennsylvania Children of the American Revolution for their work with veterans.
Honors were also given to the Great Meadows Chapter for 100 years of service and to Laurel Beth Marker for outstanding regent in the Southwestern Pennsylvania district.
Barbara Keefer, of Connellsville, a member of Great Meadows and the Daughters of the American Colonists, introduced program speaker Chip Nelson of Fairchance, who recently retired as site manager for Fort Necessity National Battlefield.
Nelson noted contributions by the chapter to the park, including plaques to mark the sites of the 1754 battle as well as the grave of British General Edward Braddock, who died here in 1755.
Nelson also talked about efforts through the years to properly identify the structure of the fort, which had been destroyed by the French after the battle, and reclaim the land after years of farming and the installation of a parking lot in the historic area during the early years of the park.
“You go to the site today, and it’s changed immensely,’’ said Nelson, who noted restoration efforts are continuing. “The vista is getting back to the view Washington had in 1754.’’
Officials also gave remarks and a letter of congratulations from President General Ann Turner Dillon was read.
“The success of DAR depends on its members,’’ noted Sweeney. “We depend on you.’’