DAR history on display at Miller Branch library in Howard; chapter gives the gift of school supplies
By Patti Restivo
Baltimore Sun Media|
Nov 08, 2019 | 5:00 AM
A glass case brimming with American Revolution history stands proudly in the lobby of the Charles E. Miller Branch Library.
The exhibit contains colonial currency, books and reproduced newspaper clippings, photographs and personal items, and memorabilia of the Daughters of the American Revolution, loaned by the Howard County Historical Society and the Thomas Dorsey Chapter of the DAR.
The collection will remain on display through December.
Chapter Chaplain Julie Foard Peterson Pallozzi, a distinguished speaker who has observed decades of Howard County and DAR history, will present a lively talk Nov. 7 at the Miller Branch about the Thomas Dorsey Chapter of the national organization that descends from our country’s first veterans.
Col. Thomas Dorsey was a field officer in the Elk Ridge Battalion whose ancestral home, Troy Hill, served as a headquarters for rallying American Revolutionary patriots. But naming the chapter to honor him, she said, was a second choice.
Pallozzi, who is mother and grandmother to three active DAR members, was just 14 when her mother, Mary Moorehead Foard Peterson and Mary Dorsey Clark organized a local DAR chapter in 1956. She said they originally proposed to name it after another plantation owner — Charles Carroll of Carrollton — whose signature appears on the Declaration of Independence.
When the national organization informed them that a Charles Carroll Chapter had already formed in Indiana, they founded the Thomas Dorsey Chapter with 13 original members and 13 stars on the roster. Pallozzi attended the chapter’s early meetings held at Troy Hill with her mother when the Pedro De Valle family was in residence.
“I will never forget feeling like Belle in ‘Beauty of the Beast,’" Pallozzi said. "General De Valle’s library had books up to the ceiling. It was beautiful.”
Founded in 1890, the mission of the million-member National Daughters of the American Revolution, as stated on its website, is to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism. The DAR Special Projects Grants Program awards $250,000 annually to support historic preservation efforts in local communities.
Among the Thomas Dorsey Chapter’s 81 members are generations of women from prominent families such as the Howards, Clarks and Warfields, Pallozzi said.
Women ages 18 or older who can prove descendance from American Patriots are eligible to join.
Pallozzi has served as a regent and Maryland State historian and has many stories to tell. She said “all sorts of people” contributed to the success of the American Revolution; some fought, some donated money and supplies. One mother from Frederick traveled to Greensboro, N.C., to nurse her two wounded sons and stayed for two years as a field nurse.
“There are new patriots of the American Revolution being discovered all the time,” she said.
In the late 1960s, under the leadership of President General Adele Erb Sullivan of New York, DAR began working to overcome an image of exclusivity and “resting on our ancestors’ laurels,” Pallozzi said.
In 2008, the national organization published the names of almost 7,000 African Americans and American Indians in “Forgotten Patriots — African American and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War: A Guide to Service, Sources and Studies.”
“It’s been good for the DAR to become more involved in community activities with other organizations such as the Howard County Historical Society, the VFW and the Howard County Library,” Pallozzi said.
Shawn Gladden, executive director of the Howard County Historical Society, said he was pleased that the DAR talk fell so close to Veterans Day.
Some of the artifacts on display in the library exhibit are on loan from the Historical Society, Gladden said, but most belong to DAR members. Current regent of the Thomas Dorsey Chapter Sheila McC. Young and chapter members Sandy Harriman, Jodie Sullivan, Mary Ann Lees and Susan Heinz were instrumental in planning and staging the exhibit.
“The project started right after I was chosen as Chapter Regent in May 2018,” McC. Young wrote in an email. “The theme I chose for my term as Regent is ‘Chapter Vitality’ and to me that involves increased community activity, keeping members engaged by offering opportunities for leadership and volunteer service, and increasing chapter membership and visibility.”
After it opened, Gladden received calls from concerned citizens asking why the display excludes the 1939 controversy surrounding opera singer Marian Anderson, who was denied permission to perform at DAR Constitution Hall because of her race. He answered that the Thomas Dorsey Chapter of DAR formed almost 20 years later.
“As a historian, it’s gratifying to see DAR evolve and expand as it reexamines its organizational roots,” Gladden said. “We hope to continue to partner with the Thomas Dorsey Chapter on more educational projects in the near future.”
Members of Howard County’s Thomas Dorsey Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated the National DAR Day of Service at its meeting Oct. 12 by collecting school supplies to be donated to Bonnie Branch Middle School in Ellicott City.
Approximately 30 percent of the students at Bonnie Branch receive free and reduced-price meals, and approximately 7% of the students are English Language Learners, meaning English is not their first language at home.
Colonel Thomas Dorsey Chapter members donated a large assortment of three-ring binders, five-subject notebooks, backpacks, zipper binders, colored pencils, markers, pencil pouches and scissors. Generous donations also included notebook paper, report covers, composition books and stickers.