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Elizabeth Ross Chapter DAR
Ottumwa, Iowa

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Chapter History

In 1896, six years after the establishment of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Mrs. Clara Cooley, state regent of the Iowa Society DAR, appointed Mrs. Alice B. Mitchell to organize a chapter in Ottumwa. Twelve ladies in Ottumwa, Iowa formed the Elizabeth Ross Chapter. The charter was formally presented June 5, 1896 and closed January 15, 1897. This Chapter was the sixth one to be organized in Iowa. Charter members were: Alice B. Mitchell, Annie Daum, Mrs. Pope, Laura Ross, Charlotte McCue, Catherine Taylor, Lynn Mitchell Williams, Dorothy Bell Burton, Flora Ross, Emma J. Holt, Mrs. A.G. Harrow, Rose Dutton Gephart, Eva Philpott, Harriett Briggs, Mrs. J.D. Ferree, Mrs Devon, Julia Merwin Ennis, Mrs. Charles Aveilhe, Charlotte Merwin Haven.

At the organizing meeting, Mrs. Cooley appointed Mrs. Mitchell as Regent; Mrs. Annie Daum, Vice Regent; Mrs. Pope, Secretary; Miss Laura Ross, Treasurer; Mrs. Charlotte McCue, Registrar; and Mrs. Catherine Taylor, Historian. Other members helping in the organizing were Mrs. Lynn Mitchell Williams, Mrs. Dorothy Bell Burton, Miss Flora Ross, Miss Emma J. Holt, Mrs. A. G. Harrow and Mrs. Rose Dutton Gephart. These twelve ladies became known as the organizing group of charter members. Seven others were accepted before the closing of the charter on January 15, 1897. They were Mrs. Eva Philpott, Mrs. Harriet Briggs, Mrs. J. D. Ferree, Mrs. Sarah Devon, Mrs. Julia Merwin Ennis, Mrs. Charles Aveilhe, and Mrs. Charlotte Merwin Haven.

The first name selected for the new chapter was General Israel Putnam but the Chapter was notified that this name was already in use. Betsy Ross was suggested, but some thought that the name Betsy wasn’t a dignified name, so the chapter was duly christened Elizabeth Ross.

To obtain a gavel, Mrs. Mitchell donated cherry wood which had been brought from the farm at Mt. Vernon. The gavel and a base for the gavel was constructed from this wood and they continue to be used at each meeting.
Some of our early history includes the following:
April 21, 1898 -- War was declared on Spain. Immediately the Daughters began making plans for the assistance of the Sons of Iowa who would be involved in this war. A concert was given and the proceeds sent to Company G who used the money to buy a mess tent at Jacksonville, Florida. When troop trains passed through the city, the Daughters were at the station with coffee, milk, fruits, and other foods. When the sick and wounded were around the city, games, fruit and flowers were distributed to them. On Dec. 23rd 500 pounds of magazines and other reading matter were sent to military hospitals in Kentucky, Georgia and in Manilla and Cuba.

1908-1912, Elizabeth Ross Chapter headed the work of the marking of the City streets, brought lineage books up to date, gave liberally to the hiring of the first visiting nurse in Ottumwa, and to the furnishing of the Iowa Room at Memorial Hall, Washington, D.C. The Chapter also sought out and marked many historical spots in the County. Among them was the marking of the grave of Chief Wapello at Agency, IA and the grave of Black Hawk.

1918-1920 -- Our regent, Mrs. Carolyn N. Patterson, was honored by representing Mary Washington in the pageant of American Women in Washington, D.C. A scholarship fund to the National College was begun. We helped during the flu epidemic. The Benjamin Franklin CAR Social Club was organized with thirty five members. Additionally, the Daughters were active in patriotic affairs during WW I including the making of bandages, working with the Red Cross, knitting of sweaters and garments and making jams and jellies for those men on the battleship Iowa.& Donations of money were made to the Red Cross War Relief Fund and the Iowa Flag Fund.

March, 1918, Elizabeth Ross Chapter hosted the state convention at the Hotel Ottumwa.

1920-1922 -- This time marked the beginning of the Peace Program and the close of the WW I. The book Proud Mahaska was placed in the Iowa collection and other books were shipped to Piney Woods School.

1928 -- Mrs. Clarence Harper prepared a study of American History as Reflected in Costumes. An exhibit consisting of 13 dolls dressed in costumes like those worn by early Americans and continuing through our country’s history, including Civil War days was prepared. These were used at regular Chapter meetings, as well as at the 13th annual state conference at Des Moines. This collection grew to a total of 22 dolls.

1939-1946 -- World War II again had the Daughters engaged in the salvaging campaign, saving the scrap iron, tin cans, grease, rubber, paper and so forth. They also helped with the U.S.O. with their activities.

Honored Daughters

The following members have served on State and/or National level offices and committees:
  • Martha Fatherson Thrall was State Vice Regent in 1918 and a member of the National Board. She was State Historian 1919, 1920 and 1921. She helped compile the War Service Records for Iowa DAR, which consisted of six volumes. These are located in the State Historical Library in Des Moines and in the Library of Memorial Continental Hall, Washington, D. C. She was State Chairman of the Americanization Committee in 1922-1923 and held ten appointments on national committees. In 1911, she was a member of the National Committee on Historical Research. In 1916 she served on the National Committee, Children of the American Revolution. In 1920, she was a member of the National Committee on Historical Research and Preservation of Records, serving again in 1922. Also in 1922, she served on the National Committee on Patriotic Education; National Committee on Americanization; National Committee on The Manual for Immigrants and Foreigners; National Committee of Ellis Island. She was appointed to the same committees the following year, serving as Vice Chairman of the National Committee on Patriotic Education.
  • Myrtle D. Hunter was District Director for the S.E. District and served on the State Literary Reciprocity Committee for three years in the second decade of the twentieth century.
  • Bertha Criley was State Director of C.A.R. in the 1920s
  • Alice C. Mitchell, founder of Elizabeth Ross Chapter, received her appointment as Organizing Regent from Mrs. Clara Cively of Dubuque, Iowa. She led the discussion at the meeting at Waterloo in 1901 to organize the Iowa Society of Daughters of the American Revolution.
  • Mrs. Grace Heffelfinger, was State Registrar in 1952-54.
  • Mrs. Mary L. Gruwell, was State Treasurer, 1960-1962; State Organizing Secretary, 1962-1964; State Vice Regent, 1968-1970; State Regent, 1970-1972; State chairman for several committees; first State Chairman for DAR Service for Veteran Patients organized in 1968; State Chairman of DAR Magazine.
  • Sarah Harrison Devin was a sister of President Benjamin Harrison, a granddaughter of President Willian Henry Harrison and great granddaughter of Benjamin Harrison and Elizabeth Bassett, signer of the Declaration of Independence. She was a great granddaughter of John Cleves Symmes, Supreme Court Judge of Northwestern Territory and a Colonel of a Regiment in 1775. Her name may be found in DAR Lineage Book No. 17489, Vol. 18, page 183.
  • Flora S. Ross was a descendant of Colonel George Ross, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Mrs. Lois Bakehouse served as State Microfilm Chairman 1980-1982.
  • Shirley McCarty served as Iowa Society DAR Registrar 2004-2006. Mrs. McCarty was elected State DAR Chaplain to serve 2006-2008.
  • Mindy Beekman was the ISDAR State Corresponding Secretary 2012-2014. Mrs. Beekman was the ISDAR Southeast District Director 2010-2012, ISDAR Junior Membership Chairman for 2008-2010 and the ISDAR Newsletter Chairman for 2006-2008