Local D.A.R. Organized in ’24; Created Park



Niobrara County Library staff photos
Niobrara County Library staff photos

Last updated: September 7, 2018

The Lusk Herald
August 17, 1961

On September 12, 1924, a meeting was called at the home of Mrs. Elvira Olinger for the purpose of organizing a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Lusk, Wyoming. Mrs. Cora Beach, then a resident of Lusk, made most of the arrangements and prepared the applications for membership.

At this meeting the following women were present: Nellie S. Agnew, Elvira Olinger, Julia Roy, Olive Johnson, Lenora Giinther, Esther Mendenhall, Florence Godfrey, Ruth Teas and Mabel Edmonson. Shortly after this meeting the names of Veda Stratton, Martha Wiltse and Nattie Leach were added to the organization, making in all thirteen charter members.

At this initial meeting, Mabel F. Edmonson was elected the first regent, with Elvira Olinger as vice regent. Other officers elected at that time were: Lenora Giinther, secretary; Esther Mendenhall, treasurer; Ruth Teas, registrar; Julia Roy, Historian.

The name of “Robert Campbell Chapter” was chosen at the first meeting and the chapter was officially notified of its acceptance by the National Society on October 8, 1924.

At the March, 1926 meeting, a motion was adopted asking the National Society to approve a change of name for the organization from “Robert Campbell Chapter” To “Luke Voorhees Chapter,” in honor of a former proprietor of the Cheyenne & Black Hills stage line, and also a former treasurer of the State of Wyoming, who had played an important part in the development of Eastern Wyoming. The official approval of the change in name by the National Society was received in December 1926.

The monument marking the site of old Fort Hat Creek was one of the first projects initiated and carried to a successful conclusion by the chapter. This marker, which is now off the main highway, was dedicated July 4, 1927. The marker was built by the late John H. Roy and the principal address at the dedication was delivered at the dedication was delivered by Congressman Charles E. Winter.

One of the early projects of the Luke Voorhees chapter was to promote interest in patriotic subjects among the schools of Niobrara County. In pursuance of that objective a prize has been offered by the chapter for the best essay on a patriotic or historical subject selected by the chapter, to be participated in by students of Niobrara County schools. This project has created intense interest and is still carried on by the chapter.
Without doubt the most important project initiated and pursued to a successful conclusion was the acquiring of the land which now makes up the George Washington Memorial Park, which has provided so much enjoyment to tourists as well as residents of Lusk and Niobrara County.

The creation of the George Washington Memorial Park in Lusk and the preservation of the Pioneer cabin, which is the official home of the Luke Voorhees chapter, DAR, found their beginning when the late Eugene B. Willson, in January, 1929, offered to donate his homestead cabin on the Running Water to the local DAR chapter, provided it could be moved to some suitable location in Lusk.

This pioneer building was built by Mr. Willson as his homestead cabin in early 1880, and was the first building to be erected in what is now Niobrara County, but then a part of t Laramie County with Cheyenne as the county seat.

Following the acceptance of Mr. Willson’s offer, in January, 1929, a search for a suitable site was the principal activity of the local DAR until title to the lots was obtained and later conveyed free of charge to the city of Lusk for park purposes, the DAR retaining only the land on which the cabin is located.
The obtaining of titles to the lots now comprising the George Washington Memorial Park is a story in itself, and a brief resume will have to be sufficient in this brief review of DAR activity.

By buying up tax titles, securing quitclaim deeds and trading some lots for others in the proposed park site, title was finally secured to Lots 1,2,3,4,11,12,13 and 14, in Block 29. It was originally intended to secure the entire block, but outside opposition developed and Lots 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 were acquired by others for residence purposes. However, Otto Klemke and Albert P. Bruch donated one-half of Lot 5 in order to give the park more space, and lot 10 was donated by the Pioneer Townsite Company.

In the fall of 1929, the Willson pioneer cabin was moved from its original site at the Willson ranch on Running Water and set up on Lot 4. All labor in tearing down the cabin, marking each log and transportation to the cabin site in Lusk was done by volunteer labor, mostly male members of DAR families and other interested friends.

The DAR held its first meeting in the cabin on July 8, 1930, and regular meetings have been held there since that time. The cabin was appropriately dedicated at the State DAR conference held here in September of 1930.

MEMORIAL PARK OFFICIALLY DEDICATED

The George Washington Memorial Park was officially turned over to the city by the DAR with appropriate ceremonies on Monday afternoon, August 15, 1932. A parade from the Armory to the park was arranged by George Gibson, commander of the American Legion Post, the organizations participating being the National Guard, American Legion Post, Legion Auxiliary, War Mothers, Boy Scouts and DAR members. The old Cheyenne & Black Hills stage coach, now in the Lusk Museum, was driven by Russell Thorp, who also made a brief talk touching on the pioneer cabin and the significance of the old coach. The principal address was made by Hon. George E. Brimmer, who had been appointed by President Hoover to promote the George Washington Memorial Parks in every county in Wyoming. Presentation of the land on behalf of the DAR was made to the city for park purposes by Mrs. Nellie Griffith and was accepted by Mayor John F. Harkin, thus closing one of the most important as well as interesting transactions by a public-spirited organization in the history of Lusk and Niobrara County.

While the total number of members has decreased in the last few years and hasn’t kept pace with the growth of the community, yet the DAR fills an important niche of the business and social life of t Lusk and Niobrara County. Three DAR State Regents had been selected from the membership of the local chapter since its organization – Mrs. Olive Johnson, Mrs. Floyd Deuel, and Mrs. Lee Stoddard – and three State conferences have been held in Lusk. The first State conference was held here in September, 1930, the second in June of 1939 and the other in September 1939.

It is quite likely that with an increase in population and a renewed interest in historical lore by the coming generation, the local DAR chapter will take on new life and continue to occupy an important place in community activity.




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Debbie Sturman, Director
425 South Main Street, P O Box 510
Lusk, WY 82225-0510
Phone: 307-334-3490
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