The Nathan Hale Chapter was organized November 30, 1895, on the 113th anniversary of the day that the British acknowledged the Independence of the American colonies. The history of Nathan Hale Chapter begins with Minnesota’s first Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter: the Saint Paul Chapter. Organized in 1891, the Saint Paul Chapter was also the first chapter in the Northwest and boasted that 25 of its 26 founding members were also charter members of the National Society DAR. As the Saint Paul Chapter steadily grew, a few members of the chapter started a second chapter in the capital city: the Nathan Hale Chapter.
The forming of the new chapter was an amicable situation. At the first meeting, Saint Paul Chapter Regent, Mary Montfort, extended greetings to the new Regent Caroline McWilliams. Eliza Newport, Minnesota state regent, also spoke to the newest chapter that day. She gave a practical talk on the work of the society, endorsing the idea of this second chapter as a smart move and in the interest of the entire organization.
The new chapter began with six Daughters who transferred their membership from the Saint Paul Chapter and seven new members/Daughters. From the Nathan Hale Archives, December 28, 1898:
“The chapter aimed to run closely on the lines defined in the national [NSDAR] constitution, which is done in the study of United States history, in observing our flag days and there being no revolutionary spots to mark in our state – by raising funds for the erection of a suitable memorial to a revolutionary hero.”
Caroline Esther Nason Howard McWilliams (Regent November 1895-April 1898) guided the young chapter through its beginning years. During her tenure, the chapter wrote and amended its Articles of Incorporation, acted as hostesses for the national Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic and studied our nation’s founders. In two years, the membership had tripled. From the beginning, the Nathan Hale Chapter began collecting funds for a permanent monument to honor the patriot-martyr Nathan Hale. At the conclusion of her term as regent, Mrs. McWilliams became the chair of the Memorial Committee.
(The photo is of Caroline Esther Nason Howard McWilliams in 1896. This is the original copperplate used to print her likeness in the “Daily Bulletin” of the GAR Encampment. From the Nathan Hale Chapter Archives.)
Nov. 15, 1895
217 Summit Avenue
My dear Mrs. Schurmeier,
Your letter of the 14th with the official communication in regard to the organization of a second chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution has been received.
In reply I would say that you have not only my sanction but my hearty approval. I have always advocated smaller chapters and certainly in Saint Paul there is room for at least two. Anything that I can do in any way at any time to aid you I will be very glad to do.
With congratulations for so auspicious a beginning and asking that you will kindly notify me at your earliest convenience of your election of officers and the name adopted.
I am very sincerely,
Eliza E. Newport
State Regent for Minnesota
to Mrs. Henry [Frankie] Schurmeier
600 Holly Avenue
(Letter from the Nathan Hale Chapter Archives.)
Founding of Nathan Hale Chapter written by Karrie Blees, 2018.