With a Revolutionist in her family tree and a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter in her backyard, Ashburn resident Bonnie McGann can carry out her 2000 resolution.
That year, McGann wanted to join a DAR service organization, but she taught during the day when most DAR groups met. She knew about the organization from her father and that her late grandfather had joined the Sons of the American Revolution in the 1980s. She found a solution when DAR members Terry Davis and Peggy Marshall agreed last summer to start an evening chapter in eastern Loudoun.
“This seems like a nice young group,” said McGann last Tuesday as she and another dozen women filled out membership forms required for joining the chapter. “They’re a very patriotic group and they encourage patriotism in our schoolchildren, proper respect and handling of the flag and good old-fashioned virtues and values.”
MEMBERSHIP in a DAR chapter is not easy to obtain. Women who are at least 18 years old have to prove that they are a lineal descendent of a man or woman who served the American cause during the American Revolutionary War with military, patriotic or civil service. The prospective members are required to submit documentary proof, such as copies of birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, deeds, wills and Bible records or provable written genealogies.
“It’s a lot of fun to think you’re related to someone who fought in the American Revolutionary War,” McGann said.
Prospective members are required to join through a chapter or at large through the state. Thirty members have expressed interest in joining the Stone Bridge Chapter National Society DAR in eastern Loudoun, including two new members and several transfers from other DAR chapters. The chapter needs 12 new members in order to be chartered.
“I live here in Sterling,” said Rachel Houchins-Heppes, a member for the past five years in the Fairfax County chapter. “I also prefer an evening, relaxed meeting. ... It’s a privilege to be a member. ... I have a patriot in my ancestral line, and I’m very proud of it. I’m proud to be part of a patriotic organization.”
THE STONE BRIDGE chapter had its fourth unofficial meeting Dec. 3 and is expected to be chartered in the spring as an informal chapter. Once chartered, the chapter can start working on projects that DAR supports, such as preservation projects, history contests, good citizenship awards and citizenship swearing-in ceremonies for new American citizens. The DAR’s objectives fall under three categories: patriotism, education and preservation.
“We haven’t set our goals yet because we aren’t quite organized,” said Davis, director of genealogy for DAR and a member since 1993. “Each chapter takes on a personality as it grows. There are different interests in different chapters. What I’m interested in doing is finding out what the chapter is interested in.”
The Stone Bridge chapter will work in conjunction with three nearby chapters to take in transferring members who prefer night meetings. The chapters are the Catoctin chapter in Leesburg, the Cameron Parish chapter in Reston and the Laynes Mill chapter in Centreville.
The Stone Bridge chapter is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m., on the fourth Thursday of the month, at the Eastern Loudoun Regional Library in Cascades.
The National Society DAR, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1890 and has had more than 814,000 members join since then. Each year, 8,000 new members join.