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Visiting the Keystone State
May 22nd 2014

I left the New Jersey State Conference early on April 26th to fly to Pittsburgh where I was greeted by State Regent Bobbi McMullen’s husband, Joe, and daughter, Cathie Rutledge. Bobbi’s theme is “Our Heritage, Our Members, Our Future” and the theme of the 117th state conference was “Honoring our Heritage.”  Bobbie is an excellent genealogist and has compiled a book on the Pennsylvania’s Real Daughters. 

Other guests included Martha Hilton, Past Vice President General and Honorary State Regent of the District of Columbia who spoke on the project to restore the D.C. Boundary Stones, Curator General Jennie Rehnberg, who spoke on the Fort Pitt Block House and the DAR Museum, Alabama State Regent Connie Grund, Ohio State Regent Sandy McCann, and New York State Regent Martha M. Crapser.

Bobbi’s state regent’s project is to raise funds for three properties:  the Fort Pitt Block House, the Pennsylvania Children’s Center at Tamassee and the Madonna of the Trail Monument in Pennsylvania.  The conference attendees had the opportunity to visit two of the historical DAR sites prior to the opening of the conference. 

Prior to my arrival, the members and guests visited the Madonna of the Trail monument in Washington County.  The monuments were built across the country by the DAR along the National Old Trails Road in 1928 and a wreath was placed to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the dedication. 

The conference also toured the Fort Pitt Blockhouse, built as one of the largest British forts in North America and a key defense during the French and Indian War. In 1894, the only surviving structure of Fort Pitt was gifted to the Pittsburgh Chapter DAR. The remarkable story of the chapter’s preservation of this structure is detailed in The Fort Pitt Block House, a new book written in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Block House, by site curator Emily M. Weaver.  DAR member Edith Darlington Ammon successfully fought plans by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company to demolish the building for a freight yard.  Due to these efforts, a bill was signed by the Governor in 1907 which exempts certain historic sites and buildings of the Colonial and Revolutionary period from the right of eminent domain.

State Librarian Gretchen Gailey initiated a book club to raise funds for the DAR Library.  This year the participants enjoyed reading The Famous DAR Murder Mystery by Graham Landrum, which resulted in a $1,000 donation to Library.

I arrived just in time Saturday for the DAR Museum Luncheon chaired by Rhonda Newton.  Jennie Rehnberg gave an informative program on the DAR Museum with an emphasis on the many donations of the Pennsylvania Society.

While guests toured Pittsburgh area, I attended the business session to hear the reports of chapter regents, including one by a former member of my chapter, Sara Jane McCurdy.

With a little free time in the afternoon, we browsed the sales room.  A number of chapters offered items as chapter fundraisers and dozens of gift baskets were available as voice items benefiting the Madonna of the Trail monument and the State Regent’s Project.

At the conclusion of my address on Saturday night, the Pennsylvania Society presented a generous contribution to the President General’s Project as well as several fabulous gifts from Pennsylvania artists.  Among the gifts was a historical print by Dale Gallon of the Texans at Gettysburg entitled “Mrs. Wigfall’s Wedding Dress.”  Mrs. Louis T. Wigfall, wife of the 1st Texas Regiment’s Colonel, gave her wedding dress to be made into a Lone Star Flag for the Regiment.

It was an honor to present certificates to the chapters attaining 100% participation in the President General’s Project and to announce that Rebekah Waddell is a finalist in the Outstanding Junior Contest.

Sunday morning it was my pleasure to host members of the Heritage Club and Founders Club at a breakfast and to thank them for their generous support of the buildings and projects on the National level.

Pennsylvania is a beautiful state and I look forward to returning in the fall of 2015 to visit Valley Forge.  Hopefully I can spend a few days searching for my Forney ancestors also!

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