By Bonnie Briscoe, DAR member
Contributed Photo/Courtesy Gila Valley DAR: From left, DAR Gila Valley Chapter Regent Helen Masten welcomes new members Tammy Pursley with her husband, David, and Natalie Baker with her husband, Doug. The new members received a DAR pin, and their supportive husbands received a special DAR pin recognizing them as “Husbands of DAR”.
GRAHAM COUNTY – Two more new members, Natalie Baker of Thatcher and Tammy Pursley of Safford, were welcomed to the local Daughters of the American Revolution Gila Valley Chapter. Regent Helen Masten recognized their approval for membership from the National Society and had them take the oath of DAR membership from Chaplain Kerry Kelley.
In order to join DAR, there are always personal reasons that lead up to wanting to be a member, in addition to fulfilling the requirement to document direct lineage to a patriot during the American Revolutionary War.
For Natalie Baker, she was always told stories by her parents of ancestors in both her family lines. As a freshman in college, she took her first genealogy class, which later became the hook that got her to collect more background information about her ancestors. Her mother maintained that her side of the family had a relative who fought in the American Revolution.
Natalie wanted to see if this was true or just a story passed down through the family. To do this, she attended an annual Ranck family reunion in Pennsylvania, which included a tour of the Ranck family stone church and a nearby family cemetery. Several headstones were honored with flags and notations of military service, some from the American Revolutionary War.
It was at this reunion that Natalie learned more about Samuel Ranck, a direct patriot in her family line, who served as a corporal as he fought in the Battle of Long Island and other conflicts. One of the DAR records mentioned that he may have crossed the Delaware River with General Washington. In discovering this information, Natalie developed a deeper interest in joining DAR and attended one of the chapter’s Constitution Week programs. This was the start of her DAR journey.
For Tammy Pursley, it was the love of genealogy, the passion felt in discovering more about those on her family tree. She delved into each family line, entering information where available and filling in where ancestors were missing. She has documented as much of her family’s history as she could find and continues to look for new sources, a challenge she says, that is “an enjoyable addiction”.
When patriots from the American Revolution began showing up, Tammy developed a strong sense of pride in being a descendant of those who helped the cause for independence. She wanted to deepen that pride and patriotic feeling by joining DAR. In doing that, she would be able to provide a legacy of her family so that future members could connect with the generations in her line in order to become members of DAR.
In going through her family tree, she found 11 patriots, and seven of those were used in the past to join DAR. Of those seven, it was Lemuel Rogers who Tammy used to join DAR since his line of proven generations matched up with hers. In 1776, at the age of 41, Lemuel joined the Connecticut Continental Line and worked up to the rank of corporal. Two years later, according to some records, he died at Valley Forge under General Washington in Chester County, Pennsylvania, leaving behind a wife and seven children. He was a patriot who made that ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we have today.
Discovering patriots and their patriotic efforts is one of the major missions of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This organization was founded in 1890 to preserve the memory and spirit of those who contributed to securing American independence. Today there are over one million members who have joined the organization since its founding. DAR is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization with more than 190,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide. On the national, state, and chapter levels, DAR participates in projects to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism.
Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background who is interested in taking her own journey in search of a patriot in order to join DAR, can contact Chapter Regent, Helen Masten (928-899-4482), Chapter Registrar, Bonnie Briscoe (928-428-5904) or any member of the Gila Valley Chapter. To learn more about the work of today’s DAR and this chapter, visit www.dar.org and www.gilavalleydar.weebly.com.