In 1890, the First Lady of the United States, Caroline Scott Harrison, became the first President-General of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. She retained this position despite poor health until her death from tuberculosis in 1892.
The following excerpts from the chapter minutes give insight into the beginnings of the Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter. You will note that, following the practices of the time, even in the minutes the ladies were known only by their spouses’ names.
On February 2, 1894, seven members of the National DAR met at the home of a personal friend of Caroline, Mrs. C. C. Foster. Also in attendance was Caroline’s daughter, Mrs. J. R. McKee, then the current Vice President of the National Society DAR. At the time, twelve members were required to form a DAR chapter. Eleven ladies had shown interest.
Eleven days later on February 21, 1894, the required twelfth member had been acquired and another preliminary meeting was held. Mrs. Foster announced that National had appointed her Indiana’s First State Regent. Officers for the new chapter were elected at the meeting. Mrs. M. E. Vinton, sister of the newly appointed State Regent, would be the first chapter regent. Mrs. U. C. Atkins was Treasurer, Miss Katherine Merrill was Historian and Mrs. J. R. Lilly was secretary/registrar. The ladies present unanimously agreed on the name Caroline Scott Harrison for the chapter’s name.
It was announced that a portrait of Caroline had been commissioned to be painted by Daniel Huntington. The cost would be $300. $75 was contributed by the Orphans Asylum where Caroline had been active during her time in Indianapolis; $200 was contributed by Miss Katherine Merrill with the remaining amount contributed by other friends of Caroline. This became the official First Ladies portrait of Caroline. Later a copy was made and presented to the Benjamin Harrison home here in Indianapolis.
On May 10, 1894, the first official chapter meeting was held at the home of Mrs. M. E. Vinton, Regent. Dues were set at $2 per year with $1 of that being sent to the National Society. Mrs. J. L. Griffiths, Mrs. W. F. Winchester, and Mrs. George Sloan were given the task of creating the chapter’s constitution and bylaws and Miss Katherine Merrill became the first speaker for the chapter with a report on the early history of the state of Indiana.
From these humble beginnings came the chapter that was to become the largest chapter in Indiana and the second largest in the United States.
Caroline Scott Harrison Book of Regents
- A Color Pictorial by Joann Wasson