Visiting the Sunflower State

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
October 23, 2015

Three days after returning from our visit to Australia, I flew to Kansas City, MO on September 10th where Kristi Kocher, State Chaplain, met me at the airport and drove me 74 miltes to Topeka, the State Capitol, for the State Meeting. 

We had lunch with State Regent Brenda Judd Dooley and several of her officers before driving to Council Grove to visit the Madonna of the Trail Monument which was placed by the DAR in 1928.  Greeted by Council Grove Chapter Regent Monna Metzger and many of the members, we posed for a group photograph before enjoying refreshments in the home of the Morris County Historical Society.  Monna gave an informative history of the Santa Fe Trail and explained that the large tree stump in the yard, now referred to as the Post Office Oak, was the site where Santa Fe Trail travelers left messages to inform others of trail conditions.  The town was named for the treaty signed on August 20, 1825 by U. S. Commissioners and Chiefs of the Great and Little Osage tribes to establish the right-of-way for the Santa Fe Trail across Osage lands. 

The Kansas DAR placed 97 markers along the Santa Fe Trail in 1906-1907. One hundred years later, then State Regent Shirley Coupal’s project was to locate and repair each of the markers.  We visited the Santa Fe Trail Marker at Council Grove that site which was one of the many makers restored during Shirley’s administration.  Shirley now serves on the Board of the Santa Fe Trail Association.

The Kansas Society has 3,000 members in 60 chapters and it was a pleasure to greet many of them during an informal dinner at the hotel with the members that evening.  Brenda not only hosted a dessert reception in her room but had baked many of the delicious goodies.

Kansas is nicknamed “The Sunflower State” after the State Flower.  The state was named after the Kansas River. The River was named by the French after the Kansas, Omaha, Kaw, Osage and Dakota Sioux Indian word "KaNze" meaning, in the Kansas language "south wind."

Brenda’s theme is “Our Roots Run Deep into the Future” and her State Regent’s project is in two parts:  creation of a scholarship for male descendants of KS DAR members and replacement of lights for the state flags in the NSDAR Library with LED lights.  Additionally, the Kansas Society sponsors the lovely Kansas Chapel behind the Museum Gallery in our Headquarters.  We are honored to have such an intimate and peaceful setting in our Headquarters.

On Friday morning, September 11, Vice President General Mary Frisch, Past Registrar General Patricia Carpenter and I were treated to a guided tour of the State Capitol.  Susan Metzger, National Chair Leadership Training, was recently appointed the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and arranged for Governor Sam Brownback to welcome us to his office.  A major refurbishment of the Capitol was completed last year at a cost of $300 million.  I have a whole new appreciation for the cost of refurbishing old buildings and am grateful that we are only trying to raise $25 million for an endowment fund for our headquarters restoration and preservation!

Returning to the hotel, lunch was held in the Emerald Ballroom followed by two informative workshops.  NSDAR Major and Planned Gift Specialist Carrie Hull gave an interesting program entitled “Where does my money go?” which focused on the gifts from the Kansas Daughters to the National Society. A workshop on properly preserving photographs and paper was presented by Darrell Garwood, Archivist and Preservation Coordinator, Kansas State Historical Society.

One of the highlights of every state visit is welcoming our donors to the President General’s Tea which provides an opportunity to visit informally and share the many ways in which their gifts are used at the National Society.  I invited the members to ask questions and they are always varied.  I’m often asked how much time I spend in D.C. (a lot!), where I live while there (in a condo owned by NSDAR), do we have cattle on our ranch (yes), and what the most exciting experience has been (meeting the Queen).

Brenda called the Banquet to order that evening with a gavel made from wood from John Brown’s cabin.  The gavel had been presented to then State Regent Sarah Guernsey who served as our 10th President General 1917-1920.  Despite serving as President General during the tumultuous years of World War I, Mrs. Guernsey proposed the construction of our Administration building and the Kansas Daughters furnished the employee lunchroom.

For the keynote speech that evening at Dinner, I showed a Power Point presentation of how our buildings are used during the 51 weeks of the year when our Continental Congress is not meeting as well as some of the needed restoration.  Brenda presented a very generous check from the Kansas Society to the President General’s Project and a charm for my bracelet.  I had the opportunity to present 100% participation certificates to the many chapters who had supported the President General’s Project. The Northeast Regents Round Table surprised me with a check for the President General’s Project as well.

Sherri Smith eloquently read a moving poem on 9/11 which was followed by The Sunflower Singers who performed a patriotic medley, accompanied by Sgt. McCaskle of the Big Red Band on the trumpet. The Distinguished Citizen Medal was presented to Lt. Col. Daniel Reece of the Kansas National Guard who was driving to work when he noticed a residential fire and rescued the residents of an apartment complex housing people with physical disabilities and mental challenges from the fire.

Brenda recognized 75-year member Louise Putnam Corrick of the Topeka Chapter and it was delightful to greet her with a hug in appreciation for her loyal years of membership.

Catherine Johnson, Regent of the Dodge City Chapter, presented a Dodge City Marshal badge.  I certainly hope my childhood hero, Marshal Matt Dillon, does not need my help!

As I had an early flight to Philadelphia the next morning, I regretted not being able to stay for the remainder of the state meeting which included a Committee Fair, Board of Management Meeting and Lunch.  Bless Kristi Kocher’s heart, we left the hotel at 6:00 AM to return to Kansas City and she was returning to the meeting in Topeka, over an hour’s drive each way!

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