The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded on October 11, 1890, by a group of pioneering women. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the society has continued its motto “God, Home, and Country” ever since.
On Monday, December 17, 1894, Valley Forge Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded when nine women assembled in the parlor of the residence of Miss Jane Hayman in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Officers were elected and Valley Forge Chapter, NSDAR came into being as an integral part of the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution with a membership of thirteen.
Anna Morris Holstein (9 April 1824 – 31 December 1900) an American organizational founder, Civil War Nurse, and author, was the first regent of Valley Forge Chapter, NSDAR. She suggested using Valley Forge as the name of the new chapter to honor and remember the history and significance of Valley Forge on the American Revolutionary War.
Anna Morris Holstein.
Photograph provided by and used with the permission of Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Valley Forge served as an encampment for the Continental Army during the winter of 1777-1778. About 11,000 soldiers marched in to set up camp at Valley Forge. Here, the once segmented militias recovered and trained to emerge as a more cohesive army under the direction of General George Washington. During the winter, intermittent snow and rain, together with shortages of basic supplies made living conditions extremely difficult. Before the encampment was over, more than 2,000 were lost to numerous diseases caused by inadequate and poor food and improper sanitation. Today, Valley Forge is a National Historical Park dedicated to educating and preserving this important part of our American history.
Anna labored to preserve Washington’s Headquarters and laid the groundwork for the area around the headquarters in Valley Forge to become Pennsylvania’s first State Park in 1893.
On June 17, 1911, Valley Forge Chapter, NSDAR, erected and dedicated a monument reverencing the memory of those who perished at Valley Forge. The inscription on the bronze tablet reads: “In memory of unknown soldiers buried at Valley Forge 1777-1778. Erected by Valley Forge Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution”. Today, we acknowledge there may not be unknown soldiers buried in the encampment area, but the celebration on the anniversary of that original dedication continues annually, as the chapter now honors all unknowns wherever they are buried in whatever war they fought.
Valley Forge Chapter, NSDAR Boulder.
Chapter Photo used with permission.
On Monday, June 19, 1916, the 138th anniversary of the evacuation of Valley Forge by the American troops, Valley Forge Chapter, NSDAR, assembled in the temporary Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge to carry out the dedication of a prayer desk to the memory of Mrs. Anna Morris Holstein. The desk is a beautiful work of art and on it is engraved this inscription: “To the glory of God and in Memory of Anna Morris Holstein, who in War served the Nation as a Nurse, and in Peace preserved Washington’s Headquarters, this desk is given by the Valley Forge Chapter, D.A.R., of which she was the founder and first regent. 1916”.
A three-story brownstone house on the corner of Main and Knox Streets in Norristown served as the official home of the chapter for nearly 40 years, 1945 to circa 1985. The house, dedicated as the Mary J. Davis McShea Memorial Chapter House, was willed to the chapter by Mary’s sister. Times and needs change and the McShea house was eventually sold. The proceeds of that sale continue to be a substantial asset allowing the chapter to perpetuate its service to community.
Today – the Valley Forge Chapter, NSDAR, Daughters continue to honor our heritage and strive to make a difference in our communities. We treasure the linage to our Patriots who fought for the independence of our nation. If you have family ties to the mid 1770s in America, you might be related to a Patriot too. Contact us and start your own DAR journey.
Anna Morris Holstein Prayer Desk.
Chapter photo used with permission.
Image from chapter historic records, used with permission.