Visiting the Garden State

May 8, 2014

Following a relaxing week at the ranch, I spent one day in the office and then flew from DC to Philadelphia the morning of April 24th for the 122nd New Jersey State Conference, Connie Olde, State Regent.  Greeted at the airport by Connie, Vice President General Debbie Refior and Junior Membership National Chair Cecile Wimberley, we drove about an hour to the historic town of Princeton, NJ, home of the fourth oldest college in the nation. Other guests included Julia Rogers, State Regent, DC and Pamela Wright, State Regent, Texas.  It was such fun to be together as Pamela, Connie, Debbie and I all served as Pages.

While New Jersey is famous for its seashore, it’s also known as “The Crossroads of the Revolution”.  The battle of Princeton was a decisive victory for General Washington and Princeton served as the nation’s capital from June 30 - November 4, 1783. With a state theme of “Reflect on the Past – Light the Future”, Connie chose lighthouses as her emblem.  The New Jersey Society has 2700 members in 47 chapters and owns the Isaac Walton House, the oldest house in Mercer County, built in 1708.

Following a delicious dinner in a nearby Italian restaurant, the conference began Friday morning with a joint breakfast with the Ex-Regents’ Club and the State Officers’ Club followed by the first business meeting. It was a privilege to present certificates to 31 out of the state’s 47 chapters which achieved 100% participation in the President General’s Project – an amazing accomplishment in the first year of an administration.  It was a thrill to hear that 66% of the New Jersey chapters reported over 38,000 hours of community service in their Celebrate America reports.

Luncheon featured military historian, Art T. Green, who brought several relics of the American Revolution and discussed flintlock muskets.  The Outstanding American History Teacher was presented (and we all wished we’d had a teacher with his enthusiasm) and the essay and Good Citizen winners were recognized.   Rather than the usual centerpieces, Connie asked chapters from one district to bring items which they could then decide where to donate.  In the fall they featured teddy bears and this time they collected patriotic books. 

I welcomed 40 members of the Heritage and Founders Clubs to a Reception prior to the Banquet.  After presenting the keynote address, Connie presented me with a check for the President General’s project and a New Jersey charm.  I was stunned when Diane Oliver, State Registrar, gave a PowerPoint presentation on my New Jersey roots.  She and Nancy Kritch, conference chair, and Gail Hahn, researcher extraordinaire, found more documents in a matter of weeks than I’d found in 20 years of research, including at least two additional patriots.  They were so thorough that it even included photographs of the areas in which they lived, the churches they attended and the cemeteries in which they were buried.  Before I could recover my composure, they presented a huge binder with copies of all the documents as well as a summary on each of the families.  When Nancy gave me a t-shirt saying “Once a Jersey girl, always a Jersey girl” I proclaimed that I am proud to be a Jersey girl! Nancy also presented a wonderful drawing of my grandsons drawn from a photograph.  I can almost hear them laughing.

We briefly visited the Page party and I shared with the Juniors that my best friends are women I met as a Page and that I hope they, too, will build lasting friendships in DAR.

My time in New Jersey ended early Saturday morning as I headed to the Pennsylvania conference.  Unfortunately, I had to miss the Junior Membership Breakfast at which Cecile Wimberley was the speaker.  I’m sure all were showing their pride in Junior Membership. 

I am eager to return to New Jersey to be with the other Jersey girls and to visit the places where my ancestors settled in the 1600s. 


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