Members of lineage societies make revolutionary connections and promote patriotism
The oldest chapters in Texas of both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution are in Galveston. Both started in 1895, and both remain active service organizations that promote patriotism.
Genealogy often is what attracts people to the organizations, but members stay for the service to veterans, they say.
“Twenty years ago, I knew nothing about DAR,” Shawn Carlson said. “It just wasn’t on my radar.”
Now, Carlson is regent of the George Washington Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution based in Galveston.
In 2000, one of her aunts wanted to join the Daughters of the American Revolution and needed to research her family tree, Carlson said. She turned to Carlson for help.
Carlson, a retired historical archaeologist and museum curator who now lives in Galveston, was an ideal researcher.
Carlson’s aunt had a handwritten list with old family names, Carlson said. From that start, Carlson tracked down seven ancestors connected to the revolution.
When her aunt applied, Carlson and her daughter also applied.
The chapter focuses on patriotic service to veterans, Carlson said. Two members are involved in the Honor Flight Network, an organization that takes American veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials. The two women go to the airport to see the traveling veterans off, and they’re at the airport to welcome them home.
The chapter also collects toiletries, winter coats and Valentine cards for veterans.
Historic preservation, education and patriotism are other ongoing efforts, such as the annual school essay contest.
In September, the organization celebrates Constitution Week by distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution. The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution petitioned the U.S. Congress in 1955 to recognize Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week to make people aware of their rights and what’s in the document.
About 60 years ago, Catherine Polk was reading an article in Redbook magazine about how someone could join the organization, she said. An aunt already belonged at the time, and that’s who Polk turned to get to started on her paperwork, she said.
Now, Polk’s three daughters also have joined the lineage society. Nancy Hall, Elizabeth Goza and Susan Clark all are active members. Goza’s daughter and Polk’s granddaughter, Merrell Goza, also is a member.
“When I turned 18, Mom told me I had to join so I could get my 50-year pin before she died,” Hall said.
Clark lived in Georgia for a while and joined a local chapter there.
“I made instant friends,” Clark said. The sense of connection and common history was that strong, she said. Clark also attended national conferences.
Hall researches family history and has found many brave ancestors, she said. The stories have inspired her sisters.
“At different points in my life, when I’ve had hard times, I told myself I can survive if they survived,” Clark said.
“I told all three of them they can’t transfer out of this chapter until two weeks after my funeral,” Polk said as her daughters smiled.
The seriousness of a connection to the American Revolution isn’t a subject the family takes lightly.
“This is not just having lunch with other ladies,” Elizabeth Goza said. “It’s very moving. It’s almost spiritual.”
The more research they do, the more family members they find with connections to the revolution.
To be a member of either lineage society, an applicant doesn’t have to be a direct descendant of someone who fought in the war. To join, an applicant has to prove an ancestor aided the revolution, either by military service or by supplying the army or helping in some other concrete way that documentation can prove happened.
Clark Wright, a past president of the Bernardo de Gálvez Chapter No. 1, Sons of the American Revolution, had an ancestor who was a sergeant in the French and Indian War, but during the revolution, he supplied Continental soldiers with beef from his farm.
Wright also belongs to the Sons of the Republic of Texas.
“About 65 percent or 75 percent of the SAR are also in the Sons of the Republic of Texas,” Wright said.
Honoring veterans, participating in Fourth of July parades and sending the colorful Honor Guard to memorial events all are ongoing chapter activities, members said.
Bill Adriance, another past president of the chapter, is raising funds for a statue of Bernardo de Gálvez to place in Galveston, although Gálvez never made it to his namesake island. The Spanish general was a hero at the Siege of Pensacola in 1781. Spain fought against the British during the revolution, but not enough people know about it, he said.
“It was a really important historic event,” Adriance said.