Daughters of the American Revolution chapter to celebrate 100th anniversary

Published 12:39 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

DOWAGIAC — A local group of women is set to celebrate a century of promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism in the Dowagiac area.

The Captain Samuel Felt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is celebrating its 100th anniversary at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10 at the Hudson Memorial Building at 179 N. Jones St. in Marcellus.

“It’s such an encompassing organization,” said Chapter Registrar Jane Wagel, of the DAR. “Members have traced their ancestry back to a person who did something to contribute to the cause of the establishment of the cause of the United States of America. It could be that they fought in the war. It could be that they provided food for soldiers. It could be that they sold a horse to the army — anything.”

Founded in Dowagiac in September 1921, this chapter has benefitted from many local women as members.

“The purpose of the DAR is to further the education of our history — the patriotic participation of soldiers or veterans,” Wagel said. “We do a lot with different veterans’ homes. If they tell us they need something … our chapter will collect things they need.”

The first meeting was hosted at the historic Criffield-Whiteley house in Dowagiac. Sara Ethel Whiteley was a founding member of the chapter and led its efforts to honor veterans of World War II with a memorial highway and park in Cass County.

Over the years, the chapter has been involved in many community projects that promote

patriotism, historical conservation and community service in the area, including the marking of a stage coach stop near the intersection of Gage Street and Glenwood Road in Wayne Township.

The Captain Samuel Felt Chapter also marches in the local Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades.

“We’re really involved as a presence, but not as a representative of any political cause,” Wagel said. “Their goal is to educate the populous, especially children. We go into schools and read stories or pass out flags, so we are actively involved in community organizations.”

One particular project stands out to Chapter Regent Paula Johnson.

“Our favorite project of the chapter has probably been the Good Citizens,” Johnson said. “We’re always looking for patriotic citizens who are true to the core values of the United States.”

Created in 1934, the Good Citizens Contest award is given to a high school senior who demonstrates their “dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism in their homes, schools, and communities,” according to the DAR website.

“These ladies have been a marvelous group of women to work alongside and to be a partner with them has been a joy,” Johnson said. “I’m very proud of what this chapter has done.”

Kelly VanWormer, Michigan State Regent of the DAR, also will be present and speak to the group. Refreshments will be served.

Due to lack of resources, the organizers said they would like to keep attendance low.