Brief History of the Port Tobacco Chapter(written in 2018)
Naming of the Chapter
The charter members chose the name “Port Tobacco” for the first chapter ever organized in Charles County, Maryland, to pay tribute to its original county seat, a colonial center of religious life, culture, wealth, commerce, society, and politics. There are few places in the United States where history has been made and lived so vividly and excitingly as in picturesque four-hundred-year-old Port Tobacco. The first recorded visit by the white man was by Captain John Smith in 1608 with Jesuit missionaries arriving in 1634. Port Tobacco was a naval port of entry in colonial days and one of the business seaports in the New World. Its religious heritage is well known. St. Thomas Manor was granted to the Jesuits in 1649 and was the colonial seat of Catholicism in Maryland. The Church of England established Port Tobacco parish in 1692. The first Presbyterian Congregation in the United States worshipped here from 1657. Mt. Carmel, the first convent of religious women in the United States was founded in 1790.
Many patriots who helped shape our nation’s history were born or lived in Port Tobacco. A few of these include John Hanson (First elected President of U.S. under the Articles of Confederation in 1781), Thomas Stone (signer of the Declaration of Independence), Doctors James Craik and Gustavus Brown (physicians to George Washington) and General William Smallwood (commander of the Maryland Line).
The organizing meeting of the Port Tobacco Chapter NSDAR was held in 1964 at "Mulberry Grove" in Port Tobacco, Maryland, the home of the first regent, Mary Edelen.
The chapter received its charter in 1965. As of 2017, there have been 22 regents and membership has grown to about 80 members.
The chapter has received many awards and certificates that are preserved in scrapbooks containing records of its activities the past 52 years.
Following the National DAR motto, "God, Home and Country," the chapter has marked the graves of eight local Revolutionary War soldiers and the graves of 34 deceased members. It also has supported such National DAR projects as the DAR schools, scholarships, DAR Good Citizens, ROTC, the DAR Library and Museum in Washington, D.C.,and the upkeep of the DAR buildings, as well as the State Chapter House in Baltimore, Maryland.
Local chapter projects have been contributions to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, the Southern Maryland Studies Center at the College of Southern Maryland, and naturalization ceremonies, as well as participating in conservation and literacy programs. Port Tobacco Chapter NSDAR members have brought in diapers and gift cards for the USO at Indian Head to support military families there. They have sent cards to the troops and donated needed items to Chaplain’s Closet at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. They assisted a student with providing troops with Silly String to identify explosive trip wires and have provided laundry detergents and soap to soldiers.
Members have toured such historic places as Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Yorktown, Virginia; Habre de Venture (home of Thomas Stone); NSDAR Headquarters and Museum; Mount Vernon, Virginia; the Maryland Veterans Museum; and have observed national holidays by joining local ceremonies and parades. They have joined the Thomas Stone SAR chapter at dinners and grave markings.
The Port Tobacco Chapter NSDAR sponsors many student awards, contests and scholarships. Its members conduct a local student awards ceremony and reception each spring to recognize the local, state, regional, and national award winners of the Junior American Citizens and American History Essay contests.
Members transcribe and index genealogical records for DAR, FamilySearch.org, and other genealogical societies and organizations. Members have transcribed old Stone family letters for the National Park Service at the Thomas Stone National Historic Site. Several members have written personal family histories.
Members have participated in research, archaeological digs, and restoration of the colonial county seat, Port Tobacco. They have cleaned up cemeteries and documented tombstones. Several members have served as docents at various historical sites in the area.
The chapter has conducted several genealogy workshops over the years, primarily focused on prospective members but also helping current members who are working on supplementals. They have also had several programs on various genealogical topics such as the Family History Center and its resources, FamilySearch.org, using maps, pension records, and DNA.
The chapter has donated to “George Washington: Back in the Schools” to provide a portrait of George Washington in all the Charles County Schools.
The Port Tobacco Chapter NSDAR places a Constitution Week display in the La Plata Public Library and obtains a proclamation from the Charles County Commissioners annually for the month of September.
Chapter members have created a partnership with the Maryland Veterans Museum. The chapter holds their annual Student Awards Ceremony at the museum, participates in Patriot’s Day with a booth about DAR, and even has a member on the museum’s board.
In 2015, the Port Tobacco Chapter NSDAR celebrated its 50th anniversary with four events. In March, members visited DAR Headquarters, Museum, and period rooms. In June, members and their families enjoyed a picnic at a local park with a rousing game of cornhole. In September, the chapter held a Retro Tea at historic Mount Aventine with several state officers attending. To end the celebrations, members and their husbands attended a gala dinner in December followed by a slide show presentation of the chapter’s first 50 years.
In 2016, the Historic Preservation Committee designed and set up an exhibit called “Women during the American Revolution” at the Maryland Veterans Museum at Patriot Park with biographies of twelve women who contributed in many different ways to the revolutionary cause.
In 2017, chapter members researched and designed a pull-up display of the “Proprietors of Port Tobacco” displayed in Stagg Hall, an historic home in Port Tobacco, that used to be the home of one of our members.