The La Grange - Le Portage Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution is the result of two merged chapters, the La Grange-Illinois Chapter and the Le Portage Chapter. The La Grange-Illinois Chapter was founded in 1927 by Organizing Regent Leona Hopper Newbill (Mrs. Thomas Newbill), with 30 members in attendance at the chapter's first meeting. The Le Portage Chapter was founded February 1, 1940, in Riverside, and Bulah Walton Phillips (Mrs. Calvin) was the organizing regent. The two chapters merged in 2003.
Our chapter's most cherished possession is our gavel, which was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Grady. The gavel was carved from a section of a beam used in rebuilding The White House after it was burned by the British in 1814.
In 1930, our chapter placed a plaque on a large granite boulder on the Vial family farm. It is located on the northwest corner of Plainfield Road and Wolf Road in Western Springs, and it marks the last campsite of the Potawatomie Indians in Cook County, in 1835.
The early 1940s found our chapter actively participating in the war effort. We participated in projects to help build libraries in the permanent army camps, sent letters and gifts to servicemen, and performed volunteer work at the Vaughn and Hines VA hospitals. In addition, our members performed 6,000 hours of volunteer work with the Red Cross. We are pleased to have received special commendations for our work with veteran patients.
Our members have also been very generous in their support of the DAR schools. The Le Portage Chapter held quilt shows and bake sales to raise money for the Tamassee School. We have made quilts and collected Christmas and other holiday presents for the children at the school.
Over the years, members have volunteered at the Morton Arboretum or completed conservation service projects in the community. In 1998, our chapter, with the American Legion's Robert E. Coulter Jr. Post 1941 of La Grange, rededicated a living memorial of 13 trees to veterans of all United States wars. We have also planted trees on the lawns of the Riverside Library, the Bedford Park Library, Denning Park in LaGrange, and in 2014, the chapter donated a tree to the LaGrange Park Veterans Memorial.
Today, our chapter members are active not only in national DAR activities, but also at the state and community level, by
Volunteer opportunities abound for members of the Daughters of the American Revolution as we strive to achieve our three primary goals: patriotism, preservation, and education. Volunteering efforts can be made at the national, state, district, and chapter levels.
Through a variety of initiatives, we are continually advancing our work by supporting two DAR-sponsored schools and three DAR-supported schools, by serving our nation's veterans and active-duty military, and by preserving and promoting our nation's history and historical sites.
In addition, the DAR works with primary and secondary schools around the nation, awarding scholarships and individual achievement awards for school-age children who demonstrate exceptional citizenship and who compete in essay contests. We strive to promote education and patriotism with immigrants who are pursuing citizenship in the United States of America. Through a variety of initiatives, we also contribute time and resources to the native Americans who played such a large part in the shaping of our nation.
The DAR actively pursues the preservation of our nation's history and historic sites that are visible to all citizens and visitors to our country. Surely those who have traversed our country have witnessed monuments and markers erected and/or funded in full or in part by our members. The DAR's headquarters in Washington, D.C., which faces The Elipse directly south of the White House lawn, is also home to the DAR Museum — a free museum housing one of our nation's premier collections of decorative and fine arts. The museum's 33 period rooms are a showcase of the collection and offer the visitor glimpses into our country's historical eras, from the colonial period during the 1600s through today.
A quieter pursuit our members are undertaking is the preservation, digitization, and indexing of our vast genealogical holdings. In addition to the 860,000-plus lineages submitted by our members during the application process, the DAR Library (which is open to the public) is the home of more than 150,000 volumes of historical and genealogical works contributed to the library since its inception in 1896. The goal of this project is to make these records more easily accessible to researchers and those assisting prospective members with their applications. Opportunities to help with the indexing of these collections can be done from a member's personal computer via internet access, 24/7.
We welcome members who wish to participate in any degree with which they are comfortable! Membership is open to any woman 18 years of age or older who can prove lineal, blood-line descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence. She must provide documentation for each statement of birth, marriage, death, and generational link. Members are available to assist at every step of the application process. If you are interested in learning more about DAR, please be sure to visit the DAR's national website and our state organization. Contact our chapter registrar to begin the application process.