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Visiting the Equality State
May 31st 2016

For three years I have had the privilege of visiting each of our state societies as well as chapters in ten countries.  On May 20, I traveled to Wyoming for my last official visit.  North Dakota State Regent Nancy Legerski and Wyoming Daughter Barbara Bentzin picked me up in Casper, WY and drove me to Thermopolis, about 2 hours northwest.  Barbara is a United pilot, flying the 787s, and I can assure you we were in good hands!  The drive through the Wind River Canyon was stunning with spectacular rock walls rising 2,500 vertical feet on either side to the ridge tops. This canyon contains some of the oldest rock formations in the world, dating back to the Precambrian period, more than 2.9 billion years ago.

Thermolopis is a small town on the Big Horn River and once hosted Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Nearby is the world’s largest mineral hot spring in Hot Springs State Park in which more than 8,000 gallons of 135 degree water flow daily. Once we got to Thermolopis, I was so excited to see lilacs blooming for the first time.  Barbara was kind enough to let me hop out, take a few photos and enjoy the fragrance.

Actually, this was my second attempt to attend the Wyoming State Conference.  Last year I was changing planes in Denver when I learned my mother-in-law had passed away, and immediately returned to Texas.  The Wyoming Daughters were kind enough to include my beloved mother-in-law in the Memorial Service at their conference last year, a gesture which truly touched my family.  Unfortunately, this year I was suffering from seasonal allergies and had lost my voice, thereby pantomiming most of the conference.                      

The Wyoming Daughters are very proud of their own Vice President General Mary Agnes McAleenan.  Guests at the conference included Vice Presidents General Liz Jones, Idaho and Gale Crafton, Colorado; Bethe Clark-Urban, National Chair Chapter Development and Revitalization Commission and State Regents Rhonda Kren, Idaho; Cathy Lane, Montana; Nancy Legerski, North Dakota and Carol Jean Gaffney, Washington.

Wyoming is nicknamed the Equality State because it was the first to grant women the right to vote in 1869.  Apparently they needed enough citizens to meet the population requirement for statehood, thereby leading the way with allowing women the right to vote.   Rodeo is the state sport and the bucking bronco is the familiar State emblem. Wyoming is the ninth largest state by area but the least populated.  In fact, several members remarked that Wyoming has more cattle than people. 

Susan Haines, State Regent, presided beautifully over the 101st State Conference.  Her State Regent’s theme is “Today’s DAR – Something for Everyone” and her emphasis is on strengthening the chapters.  You can imagine the challenge in sustaining healthy chapters in such a sparsely populated state.  However, it must be working as the Wyoming Society has grown to 500 members in 11 chapters and three chapters have achieved a 10% net gain in members.  Susan’s project is to raise funds to underwrite conference expenses for the Pages. 

The first event was an informal Meet and Greet in the hotel at which I had the opportunity to meet almost all of the Daughters attending.  On Friday morning, a Genealogy Workshop was led by Kathy Price, Lineage Research Chair, and Lynn McDowell, Registrar of the Davey Jackson Chapter in Jackson Hole.  Lynn teaches genealogy classes at the Library and her chapter has grown by 29 members in the last year.  They gave great advice “cite what you send and send what you cite” and excellent handouts including:

  • A list of free library resources
  • Information for prospective members
  • A form to submit genealogy questions
  • DAR facts
  • Information on Lineage Research prepared by Jolene Mullen, National Chair
  • Helpful resources for documenting recent generations
  • DAR worksheet
  • Helpful resources for using your computer as a tool in lineage research
  • Application Checklist
  • Step-by-step instructions for completing DAR application papers
  • Genealogist Tool Kit , including Request for Assistance; Pedigree chart, white gloves, lanyard, note cards, and a thumb drive

While we attended the Genealogy workshop, Bill Teter led the other HODARs on a tour of Wyoming Whiskey.  Am I the only one who did not know whiskey was made in Wyoming??

The Awards Luncheon recognized outstanding work accomplished in the chapters.  Throughout the weekend, several committees had exhibits including the Daughters Tribute, Fill the Boot for the Guardian Trust Campaign (decorated with a deer and antlers), and a vast table of baskets for the silent auction.

Wyoming’s western heritage and ancient history were celebrated Friday night at a dinner held in the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.  Donned in western attire, we enjoyed pulled pork BBQ on tables decorated with geological maps and dinosaur bone puzzles. In fact, the bones of dinosaurs have lain buried in layers of rock for millions of years in this part of the state.  In 1993 fossil hunters discovered the bones weathering out of the mountainsides above the Big Horn River. To date 85 identified dinosaur dig sites have been located and over 10,000 bones have been removed. Most fossils are from the long-necked sauropods such as Camarasaurus, Diplodocus and Apatosaurus.  Found the in the thick mud stone layer called the Morrison Foundation, dating from the Jurassic Period (208-145 million years ago), this foundation has yielded one of the richest dinosaur fauna in the world. The Museum includes a Preparation laboratory and a 35 foot T-Rex. Guests may visit and participate in dinosaur dig sites. http://www.wyodino.org/ 

Nearby are the Legend Rock Petroglyphs, with 283 different petroglyphys from prehistoric Shoshone Indians on 92 sandstone panels; some date back 10,000 years.

I began my remarks by thanking the Wyoming Daughters for the Wyoming Lights the Way Project in which they generously donated over $14,000 for energy efficient lighting for the exterior of our historic headquarters.  Unfortunately, my voice faltered and I am grateful that Liz Jones, VPG and a member of the Development Committee, could help finish the presentation on the Guardian Trust Campaign. When Susie presented a charm for my bracelet, I remarked how nice it was to be surrounded by objects older than I am in the impressive museum.

Barbara drove me back to Casper that evening and I regret having to miss some of the outstanding programming the next day.  Bethe Clark-Urban presented a workshop on Social Media and Your Chapter and Tamara MacKenthun of Idaho, winner of the American Heritage Fiber Arts Historical Costume Contest in 2015, presented a program on Dressing a Patriot.

On Saturday morning the Wyoming Daughters passed the boot, filling it with $1,230 for the Guardian Trust Campaign. The Wyoming Daughters have been quite generous and will no doubt meet their goal for the campaign.

The Saturday night Banquet honored the Vietnam Veterans with special guests from the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration Scherry Chewning and Yvonne Schiltz, Chief, Commemorative Partner Program and POW/MIA Liaison, Colonel, US Air Force (Retired).  Yvonne is a DAR member in Nebraska.  Honored at the banquet were 10 Vietnam Veterans and their families.

Wyoming Daughters truly are Today’s DAR.

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