Written and read by Gertrude O’Donnell at the Chapter's 100th Anniversary Celebration Litchfield Inn, Nov. 7, 1999
I am happy to say that Mary Floyd Tallmadge Chapter, DAR, at present, is doing very well. We are adding members, and welcome new members always.
In the past, the chapter has had its up and downs. In 1965, it was not very active. However, Joyce Cropsey came along and revitalized it and we have been functioning successfully, I think, in reaching our organization’s goals of promoting history, education and patriotism: HEP! We like to call it our “HEP” organization!
Today we are celebrating the founding of our chapter, Nov. 17, 1899, with Joyce, again, as our regent. Former regents who are here today are Barbara Gowen, Ronnie Schoelzel, Barbara Francis, Betty Allcroft, and Martha Woodward.
The chapter actually started as an adjunct of Judea Chapter in Washington (CT), but on Nov. 17, 1899, Litchfield was organized with 26 charter members. The first regent was Elizabeth Barney Buel, who later achieved state and national offices. Mrs. George C. Woodruff was Vice-regent, Mrs. Allan McClean Recording Secretary, Miss Minerva Buel, Corresponding Secretary, Miss Ruth McNeil, Treasurer, Mrs. Henry Wessells, Registrar, and Mrs. M. B. McLaughlin Historian.
Incidentally, many of these names are familiar to me, (although I didn’t know them personally!), because they are buried in East Cemetery, with which I am quite familiar!
Mrs. Buel was probably on of the most dedicated members of the early days of the Lfd. Daughters of the American Revolution. One of the most memorable projects she spearheaded was the installation of the beautiful stained=glass window in the Litchfield Historical Society building facing the Congregational Church across East Park. That was in 1907. It involved raising a considerable amount of money, in which the DAR and many Litchfield residents participated. This is a beautiful work of art, dedicated to the men of Litchfield town and County who served in the Revolution. It is spectacular when illuminated at night. It depicts a winged youth with drawn sword in his right hand and a branch of laurel in his left. Unfortunately it can’t be seen in daylight due to subsequent alterations in the building which was build in 1900 dedicated to Julia Tallmadge Noyes, a granddaughter of Mary Floyd Tallmadge, as a public library for the town of Litchfield. The chapter raided substantial funds and contributed.
In 1912, Miss Josephine Richards compiled a list of those honored and it was published as the “Honor Roll of Revolutionary Soldiers of Litchfield County.” There were many distinguished guests from throughout the state and nation in the 200 who attended the dedication ceremony when Mrs. Buel presented it to the Society.
In 1976, Joyce Cropsey made another valuable contribution to the records of Revolutionary Soldiers of Litchfield County by publishing a “Register of Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Litchfield County” in commemoration of the bicentennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This book is still available by contacting members of the chapter.
Sept 8, 1934 a boulder was placed on the former site of the Miss Piece’s Female Academy on North Street, which was resented by the chapter to the Litchfield Historical Society. Due to stormy weather, the ceremony was held in the Congregational Church. (I don’t think the boulder was in the church, however!)
Our chapter is involved at present in many programs; town, state, and national. We sponsor scholarships for history students graduating from Litchfield High School, and donate medals to Middle School students for excellence in history. We have a happy meeting each year when we give the “Good Citizen” medals to seniors of Litchfield High School, Wamogo High School, and Forman School, with tea and delicious refreshments served, too!
A flag is donated each year locally: the firehouse, the borough, the town hall, the Conn. Junior Republic, etc. Clothes and donations of money are given each year to the national DAR schools in Georgia and Alabama. Ellsworth House in Windsor, which is owned by the state DAR, also receives support from the Litchfield Chapter, as does the Jonathan Trumbull House in Lebanon.
One of the outstanding programs sponsored by the local chapter and recognized for merit by the National DAR, was awarding of certificates and medals to members of the Bantam Tyler-Seward-Kubish post of the American Legion for their ongoing monthly ceremony honoring American veterans at the All-Wars Memorial site in Bantam.
Mary Floyd Tallmadge chapter is proud, too, of having initiated the annual tributes to Oliver Wolcott, signer of the Declaration of Independence for Connecticut, and Col. Benjamin Tallmadge, husband of Mary Floyd in East Cemetery every Fourth of July. We are now joined by the SAR and representatives of the Litchfield and Bantam American Legion posts, the VFW of Torrington, plus firing units from Watertown.
Also, in commemoration of the national bicentennial, in 1976, we placed a bronze plaque on the grave of Mary Floyd Tallmadge in the same cemetery. She died, unfortunately, at the age of 42, leaving her husband, son, and daughter.
Our most successful fund-raiser for many years was the Arts and Crafts show, which included a delicious lunch, bake sale, and which entailed a great deal of work and baking and preparation. There was great co-operation by the members in the chapter area. But, with so much competition for similar events, we were unable to attract sufficient exhibitors this year. We’ll see what this brings.
Two years ago, we initiated the volunteer recognition program, in keeping with our aim of more participation in local activities, and that is the program we are observing today.
With assaults on our flag both here and abroad, it is more important that ever, for America and to keep the spirit of patriotism and love of country alive, and this is what MFT is attempting to do."