If you think the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) are a bunch of ladies wearing hats and white gloves, sitting around drinking tea and bragging about their esteemed ancestors, think again. Today’s DAR ladies are interested in history, genealogy, patriotism and community service.
On Saturday, November 20, the Annuttaliga Chapter of the DAR in Brooksville took on the tedious task of cleaning the headstones at the Chinsegut Hill cemetery. Assisting the women was Andrew Lumish, known as the “Good Cemeterian”. He is considered an expert on restoring headstones of graves and the mission of his non-profit organization, The Good Cemeterian Historical Preservation Project, is to “preserve and honor the past through inspiration and education.”
Lumish, who has a special place in his heart for veterans and veterans’ cemeteries, states, “I hire veterans to work with me. One of the first veterans I met would talk to me and tell me all kinds of things. It turned out that he had undiagnosed PTSD and, unfortunately, committed suicide.” After restoring a few monuments Lumish quickly understood that this was a calling and made it his life’s goal to continue on this mission which grew to include researching each individual and recalling their life stories.
Among the people whose final resting place is the small fenced-in graveyard adjacent to the Chinsegut Hill house are several Ederingtons, a family that occupied the home in the 1800’s; and Edgar Snow, the child of Charlotte Ederington Snow and Joseph Snow.
The gravestones, which had turned brown from the elements, became much whiter after two hours of painstaking work by the group. You can’t use any hard objects on the stones and all of the brushes that are used have soft bristles. The group even used toothbrushes to get into the small crevices. The biological solution that’s applied is approved for use on gravestones. These markers won’t turn bright white immediately; it takes a few months for them to get whiter.
When talking to these ladies, one gets an insight into the more personal aspect of history. For example, Terri Dioquino, the local chapter’s Regent (an office comparable to president), is the descendent of a well-known officer in the Continental Army. Mordecai Gist was a member of a prominent Maryland family and became a Brigadier General and he was distantly related to George Washington. He fought in a number of battles and was even present when the British surrendered at Yorktown.
Joy Miller is the Registrar of the chapter and helps people trace their genealogy so they can determine if they are related to a revolutionary era patriot and thereby eligible for membership. One’s ancestor does not have to have fought. In fact Ms. Miller traces her ancestry to Ezekiel Webb, a Quaker living in Pennsylvania. Being a Quaker, he didn’t join the military, but he supported the cause in other ways.
“You could have been related to a woman. Women in those days took care of the home while the men were away fighting, paid the taxes, maybe fed the soldiers or nursed them in the hospitals,” remarks Ms. Miller. The members of the local DAR chapter are not only proud of their heritage, but also of the contributions they are making to their community. For example, they recently collected money to purchase gift cards for some of the residents of the Baldomero Lopez State Veterans Nursing Home.
“We are an organization that is dedicated to promoting historical preservation, education and patriotism,” remarks Ms. Dioquino. If you think your roots may go back to the Revolutionary War period, the DAR welcomes you to look into membership in their organization. They will help you with the research. For more information, email Teri Dioquino at [email protected] or log onto https://annuttaligadar.wixsite.com/annuttaligadar/contact-us
If you would like more information or want to donate to The Good Cemeterian Historical Preservation Project go to www.thegoodcemeterian.org