Franke: a DAR Induction

February 22, 2023

by Mark Franke

I am proud of my wife. Now that can be taken as a generalization, given that we have been married for more than 50 years. But in this instance it is very specific.

Earlier this month she was inducted into membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

That is a big deal. I am a Son of the American Legion based on my father’s service at D-Day and then again during the Korean War but I only had to trace lineage back one generation. Tommy, my wife, needed to document generation by generation to a veteran of our War for Independence.

A Chinese proverb goes something along the lines that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. In my wife’s case it also involved multiple dead ends when either a single link could not be documented or the ancestor in question was in a collateral family line. Still, she persisted.

What got her research started was information received from a cousin that a family grave was found in Terre Haute which pointed to a possible Revolutionary era connection. This proved to be a false alarm but once the train left the station, it was on an express line.

She began with her paternal grandfather, diverted from him to her maternal grandfather, and then finally settled on her paternal grandmother as the best path to take. Literally hundreds of hours were spent on the internet after subscribing to ancestry databases and newspaper archives, all of which left her just shy of the necessary documentation.

She even did the DNA testing thing. She received results, valid in her mind but specious in mine. However, I am a scientific Luddite and don’t trust this sort of thing as a matter of creed.

There were some dark days during all this research. She would not have made it through if it were not for the friendly and expert assistance offered by the local DAR chapter and the genealogical librarians at the Allen County Public Library. Not only did they find sources hidden to my wife, they continually encouraged her to keep moving forward during those times of emotional and intellectual despair.

She did learn some interesting facts about her European forebears. One, himself a cognatic descendant of the House of Stewart, was created Earl of Rothesay by Scottish King David II but the title reverted permanently to the crown and was carried by James VI to England when he succeeded Elizabeth as king of all Great Britain. If I can trust the internet, and why shouldn’t I, the title is still personal to the royal family, currently held by Prince William for use when he is in Scotland. I doubt it warrants a private tour of Buckingham Palace by invitation of Cousin William but it does invest bragging rights over my peasant farmer ancestors.

She also learned that another ancestor in this Scottish branch was hanged, drawn and quartered as a Roman Catholic martyr during Elizabeth’s (the first one) reign. I wish I had known this when we first married as her devout Free Methodist grandmother, the one in this martyr’s line, was appalled that Tommy married a Lutheran, no better than a Catholic in her piety. Maybe it’s a good thing I couldn’t bring this up at the time or she might have erected a stake and began gathering firewood.

I suggested that perhaps I could qualify as a Son of the American Revolution — and there is such an organization — but only if I could claim one of the Hessian troops hired by King George to supplement his army. All my ancestors, German to a fault, immigrated to America after 1800. Perhaps there is an organization for sons of the Thirty Years War  . . .

Again, this is a big deal. The process not only provided a treasure trove of family history, it also opened up an avenue for patriotic community service. I suspect my wife will get involved with DAR’s educational programming given that she is a retired teacher and principal. DAR stands for many of the same principles as the American Legion and now we each have our own calling to promote the best of Americanism in a time when it is sorely needed.

Induction ceremonies are special. In this case our two local grandchildren were present to witness it. They politely sat through the entire two-hour meeting including all the committee reports and then stayed for the guest speaker, although I should confess that the speaker was their 14 year-old neighbor reporting on her community service project supported by the local DAR chapter. She is an impressive girl, no doubt the subject of a future column.

DAR’s motto is “God, Home and Country.”  God doesn’t need their help but America and its homes surely do. Now my wife is officially part of this worthy cause.

Mark Franke, M.B.A., an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review and its book reviewer, is formerly an associate vice-chancellor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.


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