Mrs. Dietrich reminded members to register soon if planning to attend the DAR State Conference April 3-6 in Franklin. This year’s conference dinner will feature a “Murder Mystery.”
Vice regent Laura Boyd introduced guest speaker and local attorney Paul Dietrich, whose topic was “Joseph Kerr, Patriot Spy.” Kerr was born in Pennsylvania in 1750 and at an early age moved with his parents to North Carolina.
He was born with several deformities and a speech impediment. But he was indignant at the ravages of the British and Tories and, despite his personal obstacles, offered his services to the Patriot army as a spy.
Though a very intelligent man, Kerr was perceived as ignorant and harmless by the British due to his difficulty speaking. But this misperception gave him an advantage, in that it enabled him to move among the British soldiers, gathering vital information to pass along to Patriot troops.
At one point, Kerr was offered room and board by Mary Ramage Dillard and her family. Dietrich and his mother, Mariann, are descendents of Dillard who also served as a Patriot spy. He read a poem he penned about his ancestor titled “Mary Dillard’s Ride.”
Jane Lucchesi reported Gov. Bill Haslam has allocated several million dollars in the state budget for the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home planned for this area. A golf tournament will be held at the Chatata Valley Golf Course on June 7, with proceeds going to support construction of the home. Additional information about the fundraiser can be obtained from the local Veterans Service Office located at the Bradley County Courthouse or from any member of the SETVH Council.
Joy Harden, American Indian chairman, reported on the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park in Birchwood. The granite walls there are etched with the names of Cherokee people who were forced from their homes and marched to Oklahoma in 1838 as part of the Trail of Tears. This is the 175th anniversary of the removal.
The walls depict the 2,500 family names from the Cherokee Nation Census of 1835, also known as the Henderson Rolls. Each panel represents one of the seven Cherokee clans: Bird, Wild Potato, Deer, Long Hair, Paint, Blue and Wolf.
National Defense Chairman Jeannine Scott’s topic was “Kathy Champion, American Hero.” Champion served 27 years as a transport officer in an Army Special Forces combat unit transporting wounded soldiers to safety in Baghdad. She survived seven IED explosions, but was wounded in Iraq.
After being permanently blinded and confined to a wheelchair, Champion continues to volunteer, helping wounded veterans and the guide dog program. She is also a DAR member, a mother of two, and a grandmother of three. Her motto is, “What is in you is bigger than what is in your way.” Champion is writing a book about her experiences, and it will be in the book stores this coming fall.
During the business session of the meeting, Linda Foster gave the treasurer’s report, and Gussie Ridgeway read the minutes of the previous meeting. Conservation Chairman Ann Cherry provided suggestions for water conservation in the home and yard.
Those present sang “Happy Birthday” to 98-year-old member Rinehart Lackey and to prospective member Bobbi Liner.
Mrs. Dietrich thanked hostesses Ina Kagel, Jane Lucchesi and Laura Hixson before adjourning the meeting.