Saturday, March 25, 2017

Society Saturday - Colonial Music

Our entertainment at the recent state meeting of the Daughters of the American Colonists was on the history of music in the colonies.

Sharon and Debbie are two retired music teachers who have researched the topic extensively.  They sang and played the piano with examples of different types of music.

Early colonial music centered on the two most popular topics of the day - religion and politics.  Political topics were primarily things occuring in mother England.  Religious tunes  were biblical psalms set to music, and some early Christmas Carols.

Most songs originated in England and were brought over by the colonists. One of the first songs that they found that originated here was "Invitation to North America".  This tune advertised the abundant land and easy wealth that colonists could find here.  As with most advertisements, this song was somewhat embellished.

In the 18th century, more secular songs became popular and would tell the news of the day or discuss different ways of life, such as that of indentured servants or sea shantys.  Penny broadsides were often set to music as a proponent of certain political views.

Along these lines, political satires and parodies were popular.  One example was "Sons of Liberty" a response to the Stamp Act.  And of course, one of the most famous political tunes of the American Revolution was "Yankee Doodle".

It was very interesting to learn about some of this country's earliest music.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Society Saturday - Wreaths Across America

We were honored to welcome the President General, National Society Daughters of the Union to our John Butler Chapter meeting.  PG Kitty Humphrey is a Veteran, having served in both the Army and the Marine Corps.  She is extremely passionate about Veterans as well as honoring the Flag of the U.S.A., both of which were apparent during our meeting.

Kitty spoke passionately about one of her National projects - Wreaths Across America.  Many patriotic organizations participate in this project, including some of the other organizations I belong to.

She gave the history of Wreaths Across America, which I hadn't heard before:
The organization was started in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, of Harrington Maine had a surplus of wreaths at his company.  He thought back to a childhood visit he had made to Arlington National Cemetery and decided to donate those wreaths to decorate the graves of our veterans.  A local trucking company volunteered to transport the wreaths, and several other volunteers helped by tying on red bows and placing the wreaths on graves.

They continued to do this every year until 2005 when a photograph of the wreaths on the grave stones went viral.  Suddenly, many others wanted to place wreaths across the country.  Worcester donated 7 wreaths to each state, representing each of the branches of service, as well as POW's and MIA's.

In 2006, wreaths were laid on the same day in over 150 locations, and interest continued to grow.

In 2007, the Wreaths Across America was officially founded as a 501(c)(3) organization.  Their mission is to "Remember, Honor and Teach".

By 2014, over 700,000 wreaths were placed in cemeteries across the U.S.A., as well as locations such as Bunker Hill and the site of the 9-11 attacks.  Every grave at Arlington National Cemetery (over 226,000) had a wreath.  Over 2000 organizations participated in fund raising and placing the wreaths, and it continues to grow.

The organization believes in the motto that "A person dies twice, once when they take their last breath, and again when their name is spoken for the last time."  Because of this, their name is spoken as the wreath is placed on their grave.

The actual wreath laying occurs every December - the next one will be on December 16, 2017.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Society Saturday - Flight of the WASP

At our recent Colonial Dames 17th Century meeting, we met Amy Danford-Klein.  She gave a most interesting program about her research into the Women's Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP's.  She has researched them extensively, has spoken with some of them who are still alive, and has written a screenplay that she hopes to have produced.

The Women's Airforce Service Pilots were formed during World War II in response to the independant efforts of Jacqueline Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love.  They both had separate ideas of what was needed, and approached it through different channels, but the end result was the WASPs.

World War II was a time when women stepped up to fill traditionally male roles while the men were off in combat.  The classic example is the "Rosie the Riveter" who worked in the factories.  WASPs were female pilots who stepped in to fill the void left when the male pilot went to combat.

Their role was to fly test planes, tow banners for target practice fly cargo and ferry planes.  They were trained the "army" way at Sweetwater, Texas, where they learned everything the male pilots did except for combat techniques.

Unfortunately, they were not officially a part of the military, and when WWII ended, they were simply disbanded.  Their records were sealed for 35 years, so few knew about them.  Gradually over the years, they have been granted increasing veterans' benefits including the ability to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Some interesting facts about the WASP are:

  • 25,000 women applied, 1830 were accepted and 1074 earned their silver wings.
  • They had to pay their own way to and from their training base.
  • Altogether they flew 60 million miles in 77 types of aircraft.
  • 38 were killed in service to their country but received no military honors.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Society Saturday - Inaugural Meeting of Descendants of Cape Cod and theIslands

A brand new society, the Descendants of Cape Cod and the Islands, held their inaugural meeting on the cape.

We met at the Dan'l Webster Inn in Sandwich. This was a typical New England Inn and they were very welcoming.

Our first event was a meet and greet on Friday evening.  There were several members there who I had not meet before, along with spouses and other guests.

We had our inaugural business meeting on Saturday morning.  Founder Shari Worrell did a marvelous job getting us off and running.  We were proud to announce that we have 125 members honoring 133 ancestors.  Several members have proven more than one ancestor, one has proven 21!

After the business meeting, we walked down the street to the Sandwich Glass Museum.  There we learned the history of this cape industry and had a glass blowing demonstration.

One of us even got the chance to assist the glass maker.

We found a seafood restaurant for lunch where the pagers looked like lobsters.  And of course, I had a "Lobstah Roll".

We were on our own in the afternoon.  This was spent shopping at an old fashioned general store, a bookstore with floor to ceiling books, and just walking in this quaint New England town.

At dinner, we were entertained by local historian Jim Coogan.  He is an expert on Sandwich and Cape Cod history and had many interesting stories to tell.

The weekend was a lot of fun and I can't wait to go back next year.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Society Saturday - Spies at Mount Vernon

The National Project of the Daughters of American Colonists is to fund the production of a smartphone app for visitors to Mount Vernon. At our fall board meeting, we were able to try it out.

I have been to Mount Vernon several times, but this trip was a little different.  First, we had a guided tour of the mansion plus a visit to the cellars (not normally included).  We saw where Martha Washington kept her food supplies and learned about the various beverages enjoyed by their guests.  Unfortunately, there were no photos allowed inside, so all I have is an exterior view.

And a view of the river from the mansion.

During lunch we were entertained by Nelly Parke Custis, step-granddaughter of George Washington.  She told us about her life on the plantation.

Then we set off to try our hand at spying.  While George Washington's spies operated primarily in New York, and Connecticut, we were able to learn some of their techniques.  The smartphone app starts by giving us our assignment by Agent 711 (Washington himself).  To complete it, we had to travel to various locations on the estate, find secret messages, use invisible ink, eavesdrop on British troops, encode secret messages, and signal for message pickup.  All without being caught!  Since we were operating in secret (and it was pouring rain at the time) I don't have any pictures of us on our mission.

I can show you that I completed the mission and am ranked in the top 10 spy list.

We concluded our visit with a tour of the mill and distillery on one of Washington's adjacent farms.  He operated the mill to make a profit with wheat flour, and to provide corn meal to the slaves and farm animals.

The distillery was recently restored and is fully operational.  They even sell the peach and apple brandy in the gift shop.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Society Saturday - Yorktown Day

The Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America held their fall board meeting in Yorktown, Virginia to coincide with the Yorktown Day celebration.  Our hotel was right on the York River with a lovely view from each room.

Our first stop was the Grace Episcopal Church - originally built in 1697.

Several prominent people are buried in the church cemetery including Thomas Nelson (hero of Yorktown) and Nicolas Martiau (Huguenot founder of Yorktown).


The church was originally built of marl (center) from the York river bank, then reinforced over the years.

Our next stop was the Rosewell Ruins.  This was the former home of Mann Page and his descendants, all prominent men of early Virginia.  Thomas Jefferson was a family friend and frequent visitor and is said to have  penned part of the Declaration of Independance while staying there.

The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1916 and is currently the site of an ongoing archeological project.

Drawings and models at the visitor center show that it was quite a mansion when it was built.

The next day was Yorktown Day - the 235th anniversary of the surrender of the British.  There were several wreath layings and other patriotic celebrations throughout the day.  A parade down main street was led by a group of reinactors and consisted of several patriotic groups.

This was followed by a ceremony at the Victory Monument with representatives from several patriotic groups, as well as the consul from France.  A huge wreath was placed on the monument.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Society Saturday - Baltimore and the War of 1812

The National Board of the US Daughters of 1812 spent a day touring some historic sites in Baltimore.

Our first stop was at Fort McHenry, site of the August 1814 bombardment that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the "Star Spangled Banner".

We learned what life was like during the past 200 years of the fort's existence, saw the soldiers' quarters, looked out over the ramparts, examined the cannons, and of course, saw where the flag stood.

That afternoon, we visited the Star Spangled  Flag house, where we learned all about Mary Pickersgill, and how she made the flag.   There is a museum next door with a wall showing how big the flag actually was - 30 x 42 feet.