Visiting the Buckeye State

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
September 9, 2015

On August 13, 2015th, I escaped the extreme Texas heat and flew to Columbus, Ohio for the Ohio Society Fall Fun Fair.  Greeted at the airport by State Regent Sandy McCann and State Vice Regent Nancy Wright, the weekend was off to a fun start!   The Ohio Society has over 6,000 members in 102 chapters.  Sandy’s emblem is the Claddagh, an Irish emblem which represents love, loyalty and friendship. 

We joined the State Board and Honorary State Regents for dinner at Lindey’s Restaurant where I enjoyed walleye, a fish found in Lake Erie.  On the return trip to the hotel, Robin Lee Rose, State Chaplain gave an excellent driving tour of Columbus.

On Friday morning we drove about two hours to the Christian Waldschmidt Homestead, the home of a Revolutionary War patriot.  Relocating to the New Germany Community in 1794, he built his large stone home which included a store and tavern.  Waldschmidt was a businessman and encouraged new settlement, staffing a church and helping to found a school, and beginning industries vital to the survival of his new home, such as Ohio's first paper mill, a cooperative distillery, woolen mill, sawmill, and a blacksmith shop. http://www.ohiodar.org/waldhouse.shtml

During the Civil War, the house and surrounding grounds were part of Camp Dennison, used primarily as a general training center, recruiting depot, and hospital post.  The house, which was in disrepair, was given to the Ohio DAR in 1941 by Mr. and Mrs. Chester Kroger of Cincinnati. In 1953, the house was opened to the public as a museum.  OSDAR purchased adjoining property, including a smaller fieldstone house that Christian Waldschmidt built for his daughter when she married. This house was used as a guard house for Camp Dennison during the Civil War, and was restored and opened as the Camp Dennison Civil War Museum in 1998. In 1989, the Ohio Society completed the construction of the Memorial Barn, honoring the Bicentennial of the Northwest Ordinance. It now houses an extensive collection of primitive stone cutting and farm tools, as well as a restored Conestoga wagon and a large mural painted by several Junior members. Sandy’s projects were to install siding on the caretaker’s house and install storage cabinets in the barn.

The State Board held its meeting in the Memorial Barn while Docent Darlene West gave me a wonderful tour of the Homestead and Museum.   The loving care given the Waldschmidt Homestead by the Ohio Daughters is most impressive.  The house and artifacts are in excellent condition, including the textiles.  The depth of the collection is amazing. Darlene pointed out unique items in the house, the ABC hinges and a crazy quilt made by sisters from the neckties of suitors, perhaps explaining why they never married.  Behind the house is a delightful herb garden.  The Homestead is open for tours on Sunday afternoons, from May – October.  On September 19th, the Homestead will be the site of a Constitution Day Program in which members will represent each Amendment to the Constitution. 

We enjoyed a delicious lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cornbread at the nearby Schoolhouse Restaurant before driving back to Columbus.   Sandy and Nancy are avid Geocachers and gave me lessons on finding caches.  Sandy has challenged the members to explore geocaching, learn some history and have some fun.

The Hobby Club meeting and dinner was held Thursday night with a theme of “Party like it’s 1885!”  Invited to dress in costume, most wore denim although we had a few school marms, saloon girls, town ladies, ranch hands and sheriffs attending.  Sandy and I were asked to judge the costumes and selected Nancy Wright’s Longhorn and Angela Seiter’s Town Lady costumes as the winners.  We enjoyed playing Cowboy bingo, a modified spittoon game and learning to line dance.  Two Board members, Nancy Wright and Yvonne Hiteshue, were celebrating birthdays, and the audience sang “The Old Gray Mare Ain’t What She Used to Be.” New members of the Hobby Club rode hobby horses around the room while the audience did an encore performance of the song.

The Fun Fair began Saturday morning with a Celebration theme.  Committee exhibits were located throughout the large hotel lobby and ballroom and members had the opportunity to ask questions and interact with each state chair.  To my surprise, the Celebration song was played and the pages performed a Flash Mob dance.  It was impressive!

The highlight of the weekend was the luncheon honoring Vietnam Veterans.  With a large attendance of over 400 members and guests, 52 Vietnam Veterans were recognized, including the all Vietnam Veteran Honor Guard.  Each received a certificate of appreciation, a proclamation from the President, a lapel pin and a bundle of thank you notes, written by members and children. Ohio Daughters generously answered Sandy’s appeal for thank you notes with over 2700 letters.  It was an honor to shake the hand of each of these men and women who answered our nation’s call, thank them for their service and finally welcome them home.

Sandy read a poem by member Elizabeth Baker of Elizabeth Sherman Reese Chapter DAR:

 Thank You for Your Service

Thank you for the service
That you gave so long ago,
When you were sent to Vietnam,
Whether or not you wanted to go.
 
You may have signed up or were drafted,
It makes no difference, you see,
For you fought for our nation,
That says it all to me.
 
I graduated high school,
1968 was the year,
And I watched those from my class
Ship off, while we waited here.
 
So many never returned home,
Others were injured or maimed,
And most received no thanks at all
When they came home again.
 
I didn’t know you on that day,
Some fifty years ago.
So today I salute and honor you
For your service against the foe.
 
May you know there are many
Who understood what you were asked to do,
So I send you this humble tribute,
My way of thanking you.

Also at the luncheon was Richard Baranowski, a recipient of one of our $10,000 Special Project Grants which he received to record the stories of the people of Perrysburg for the community’s 200th anniversary.  He was kind enough to give me one of the first books and to express his gratitude to NSDAR and Dianne Janis, Special Project Grants Chair.  The luncheon concluded with the announcement of a slate of candidates for State Office 2016-2019 by Nancy Wright.

The President General’s Tea was held in mid-afternoon and it was a thrill to welcome 85 members of the Heritage Club, 1890 Giving Circle and Founders Club to the event and to personally thank them for their support of the National Society.  The tea is an informal opportunity to update them on activities at National and to answer questions.

The Banquet on Saturday evening began with a processional by the Heritage Fifes and Drum Corps, a marvelous group playing period appropriate music and leading in the State Officers and Honoraries. The Corps performed a short concert following dinner which all enjoyed.  I shared photos of our Headquarters and talked about the vision of our Founders, the current needs of our Headquarters and the ways in which some of the facilities are being used, as well as progress made on the goals of the Young Administration President General’s Project.  The program included the video debuted at Congress on the Guardian Trust Campaign and I was delighted to commend Sandy for her leadership in being the first state to make a gift to the campaign.  In fact, Sandy went even further, asking her Board to each pledge a gift, which they did.  Further, the Board and Honoraries were so supportive that they established a state goal of $300,000 to be paid over the 3 year pledge period of the campaign.  Thanks to Sandy’s leadership, they have already raised over $40,000.  I have no doubt the determination of the Ohio Daughters has been underestimated and they will exceed their goal!

The Ohio Daughters have been very generous in their support of the President General’s Project and it was an honor to present certificates to 65 Chapters which have achieved 100% participation status. Sandy presented a generous check to the President General’s Project, along with a lovely charm for my bracelet.  Muriel Brooks presented a fabulous needlepoint of an eagle soaring across the mountains at sunset.  It is so magnificent that it looks as if we could touch the feathers! State President of the C.A.R., Lexie Mehl, presented mugs to Sandy and me.  Paula Brooks of the newest chapter, John Hoover, presented a proclamation.

The Heritage Fifes and Drums played for the recessional and then performed another brief concert for the members. The members departed with greater knowledge about DAR, new friends and enthusiasm for the important mission of the DAR. Indeed, it was a Fun Fair!

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