DAR chapter in New Milford kicks off its 125th anniversary
NEW MILFORD — A black and white photo of some 20 women walking across the town green in the late 1890s hangs at the entrance of the New Milford Historical Society and Museum.
It is believed the photo documents the renaming of town hall as the Roger Sherman Town Hall — the first project undertaken by the Roger Sherman Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
On Saturday, the chapter will kick off its 125th anniversary celebration with a tea at the museum, where guests can view that photo and other artifacts pertaining to the organization’s history. The original membership applications line one wall, along with photos of the women.
“It’s pretty impressive that this organization is celebrating the 125th anniversary and still going strong,” said Bonnie Butler, the chapter’s regent, or president. “It’s because of vibrant, hardworking women who keep it going.”
The tea, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature speakers, and visitors can reserve a time to have a silhouette done for $30.
For more information about the DAR event (www.RogerShermanDAR.org), or to RSVP for the tea or a silhouette appointment, call Bonnie Butler at 860-354-5129.
Other events planned are a gala, a concert, a Revolutionary War encampment and a program on Roger Sherman — the patriot who lived in New Milford and is the only Founding Father to sign the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution.
“It’s going to be exciting,” said Mary Schenzer, the chapter’s historian. “We have a lot of fun things in the works.”
The Roger Sherman chapter was established on May 8, 1893, making it the ninth chapter in Connecticut and the 174th nationwide. The national organization was founded in 1890.
Through the years, the women have worked to preserve history, support the military and promote education. The chapter was recognized in 2014 as the Connecticut DAR Chapter of the Year for
outstanding service and commitment.
“The Roger Sherman chapter has done something to help the causes of all American wars since the Spanish-American War,” Butler said.
In World War I, the chapter sent chickens to France, helped orphans and donated money. The organization presented Quilts of Valor to veterans and brought the Wall that Heals, a replica of the Vietnam Memorial, to town in October 2016.
Butler and Schenzer said bringing the memorial to town was one of their most memorable initiatives. They recalled how moved some of the veterans were, and how some waited until nightfall so they could visit it privately.
“After 50 years, it was still very emotional,” Schenzer said.
The exhibit includes a section comparing the real-life DAR service with its portrayal in “The Gilmore Girls,” a television show about a single mother and her daughter living in small-town Connecticut in the early 2000s.
The show, though it has been off the air for a decade, still has a strong fan base, contributing to a themed festival held locally.
The Roger Sherman Chapter was invited to host a booth at the latest festival in Kent, where it had a slideshow and genealogist for women interested in joining local chapters.
Lisa Roush, the curator of the museum, said it was fitting the two organizations are working together for this exhibit, especially because they share founding members.
She said the museum has artifacts that belong to the women, but the chapter history is coming from current members.
Schenzer was always drawn to the DAR because of her grandmother’s involvement and her own love of history.
She has eight storage boxes of the chapter’s history, including scrapbooks from the late 1800s and early 1900s documenting their efforts.
Guests will be able to look through these scrapbooks during the tea.
“The person keeping the scrapbooks took pains to make them beautiful,” she said, adding many of the pages have drawings.