Rachael Bissell is the newest member of the Dona Ana Chapter of the National Society of the American Revolution (DAR) as of Oct. 5. Here is a statement from the DAR-Dona Ana Chapter:
She joins a multitude of other new national members this month who took the organization over the million-member mark for the first time since its founding in 1890. The DAR Million Member Celebration continues through the rest of October.
DAR currently has185,000 active members across the world.
Bissell was welcomed to the local chapter by the 50 members of the Las Cruces DAR, including Sarah Clark, Georgie McDougle, and Blanche Goldsmith.
The Las Cruces members cite a variety of reasons for belonging to DAR. All have the common interest of genealogy research and discovery. Otherwise, their interests are as varied as the offerings of the DAR society itself.
Members can choose to participate with committees as diverse as school essay contests, women's issues like domestic violence, historic preservation, and veterans issues including providing bus fare and personal care items for homeless veterans. During this year's Christmas season the Dona Ana chapter is participating with the Wreaths Across America project that will place wreaths on veterans' graves.
"I can pick and choose where I want to spend my time as a member," reports Nelson of the approximately 40 committees on which she can choose to serve. She now contributes to DAR by indexing Patriots (veterans of the American Revolution) for the national organization, a task she very much enjoys from home. In past years her favorite committee was working with essays of young children and teens vying for the Good Citizen Award. She explains that she liked helping young people preparing to further their lives and see the world.
Clark's enthusiasm for DAR is broad, but her primary passion is genealogy research. She is the Dona Ana chapter's registrar who helps prospective members prove their ancestry to a veteran of the American Revolution.
"I love doing genealogy research," explains Clark. "I am a puzzle enthusiast, and I think that successfully submitting applications for prospective members is similar to completing puzzles successfully."
Clark also says there seems to be something inherent in many people wanting to know about their heritage. "I am one of those people," she says.
Clark joined her mother's chapter in Silver City in 1974 at age 19.
"DAR and genealogy have been around me all my life. I'm a fourth-generation member," Clark says. Because DAR has always been in her life she says it never seemed like a big deal.
"It was very surprising for me at first to see how important and moving it is for many of the applicants to join our society," she adds, noting that to see this is very rewarding. "I love helping people achieve something that they thought was unattainable and that is so meaningful and personal to them."
Aside from the genealogy aspect, Clark says she likes the friendships that develop and working together toward achieving common goals.
"I am also proud to be an American", she says, "and it's something personal and meaningful to know with certainty that many of my ancestors were vital in establishing such a remarkable country."
Georgie McDougle's initial interest in joining DAR was a desire to be a part of the prestigious group.
Once she joined DAR she found she loved all parts of the society, including service to country and community, "but especially the friendships."
"I joined in 1995," recalls McDougle. "I enjoyed it so much I put my daughter, Stephanie, in two years later."
McDougle also likes that members are diverse and that there are chapters around the world.
Clark, who organized a DAR chapter in Vienna, Austria, concurs with the international aspect, as well as the diversity.
"The society was started by women who were white and probably Christian (although I don't know their religious affiliations for sure), but those were the predominant populations and religions in the United States in 1890. Today, we are a diverse group with members of a wide variety of ethnicities and religious beliefs. Like society in general, our organization has developed and changed over the years, and for the better."
A case in point is the Dona Ana chapter's newest member Rachael Bissell. She descends from Tomas Antonio Lopez who was a Revolutionary soldier in Santa Fe.
The Dona Ana chapter of DAR meets the third Thursdays of the month September through May. Call Mary Lee Shelton at 575-644-5121 for more information.
The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution is a nonprofit, nonpolitical volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history and securing America's future through better education. To qualify for membership applicants must present documented proof of descendency from a patriot who participated in the American Revolution.