By advocating for preservation and patriotism, the Captain Henry Vanderburgh Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution has kept local history alive for 125 years.
The chapter’s impact can be seen in Evansville through commemorative plaques on historic buildings and wreaths to honor fallen veterans. The chapter also has planted trees around the community and is working to document a historic cemetery within Wesselman Woods. Much of its work includes scholarships for college students, a good citizen contest for high schoolers, and community work supporting active military and veterans. The chapter also gives awards for conservation, community service, and historic preservation to eligible community recipients.
DAR members share a common thread: Each woman can trace her ancestry back to a bloodline ancestor — referred to as a “patriot” — who aided American independence during the Revolutionary War. Membership can require extensive research — applicants must document and verify their ancestry — and DAR leadership helps prospective members trace their lineage to see if they descend from a patriot and prepare their membership application papers.
“I feel that my ancestry would be lost in history if I didn’t acknowledge these men and women that fought for our American independence, that lived, loved, and died,” says Cheri Baumberger, an Evansville native who serves as Indiana’s DAR state registrar; her fourth great-grandfather, Jacob Puckett, was born in Virginia in 1755 and served in the decisive Battle of Yorktown. “So, if I can honor them by documenting that they were here, they won’t fall through the cracks of history.”
Indiana has about 5,000 DAR members across 83 chapters, of which around 200 women are members of the Vanderburgh group. Members gather monthly for chapter discussions, events, and guest speakers, and many members attend an annual conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a Continental Congress meeting in Washington D.C.
Evansville native Natalie Lewis shares a passion for history. She is close with her grandparents and extended family, who have passed down stories from family reunions and lineage books. Natalie learned about DAR from a friend, and its members helped trace her lineage to patriot John Shrode Sr., her sixth great-grandfather who was born in France in the 1740s and served as a private in Pennsylvania’s York County militia. A DAR member since 2020, Lewis will serve as the local chapter’s recording secretary next year.
“I feel like these women are always lifting you up, and you learn something new every time,” she said. “The sisterhood of it has been the best part and what keeps me wanting to be involved.”
Photos Provided By Cheri Baumberger