DAR wants his­toric mu­ral no­ticed-

DAR wants his­toric mu­ral no­ticed

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - WHAT'S UP - BECCA MARTIN-BROWN

If you didn’t know bet­ter, you might think LaNita Terry McKin­ney and Cheri Co­ley are talk­ing about the lat­est machi­na­tions on “Game of Thrones.” Both of them can rat­tle off names and events that hap­pened long be­fore they were born — some se­crets, some scan­dals, all of them doc­u­mented far be­yond the lim­its of An­ces­try.com.

They are Daugh­ters of the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion. And they know things.

“DAR is a lin­eage so­ci­ety,” McKin­ney ex­plains with the en­thu­si­asm of a true be­liever. When she mar­ried, “my hus­band’s mother and sis­ter were in DAR, and I took it as a chal­lenge for me to try to prove” she had a “pa­triot” in her fam­ily tree.

She ef­fort­lessly rat­tles off the lin­eage to the an­ces­tor who earned her her DAR mem­ber­ship:

LaNita Carol Terry to Carol Sue Cullen to Ol­eva An­gelina Si­vage to Olivia Louisa Pat­ter­son to Charles Daniel Pat­ter­son to Lucy Hayes Hall to Nancy Sweeney to Daniel Sweeney to Moses Sweeney.

Now she has four to whom she can trace di­rect re­la­tion­ships, in­clud­ing three who served in the mil­i­tary dur­ing the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion and one who was a Quaker but fur­nished beef to Colo­nial troops.

Co­ley, who has proved six pa­tri­ots, says she knew she was el­i­gi­ble for “years and years,” hav­ing grown up be­ing “dragged to ceme­tery dec­o­ra­tions.” “I thought I’d be a rebel and shake those blue-haired ladies up,” she says of join­ing Mar­ion Chap­ter of the DAR. “Now I am one.”

Lately, the two women have been work­ing on a dif­fer­ent kind of re­search. On Wed­nes­day, they’ll speak at a Sand­wiched In pro­gram at the Shiloh Mu­seum of Ozark His­tory on the World War I mu­ral in the His­toric Wash­ing­ton County Court­house. The con­nec­tion? Mar­ion Chap­ter com­mis­sioned the mu­ral in 1920 to honor lo­cal sol­diers killed in World War I, which the U.S. en­tered 100 years ago in 1917. New York artist Wil­liam Robert Steene just hap­pened to be liv­ing in Fayet­teville at the time, and on Feb. 21, 1920, the women of the chap­ter voted “that re­gent make an ap­point­ment with the artist Mr. Steene for DAR to meet in body at his stu­dio, see his work and hear his [plan] for rais­ing money with which to pay for said memo­rial, which will be a mu­ral paint­ing placed in court­house.”

Ac­cord­ing to McKin­ney’s and Co­ley’s re­search, the mu­ral was painted on heavy can­vas in Steene’s stu­dio, then trans­ported to the Ozark Theatre for un­veil­ing on July 5, 1921. “The event was held at the Ozark Theatre be­cause its stage was the only place in the city ca­pa­ble of hold­ing the 8 feet by 36 feet wide mu­ral.”

By newspaper ac­counts, the un­veil­ing was “im­pres­sive in the ex­treme.” The names of 53 — or maybe 54 — killed in war were read aloud by a World War I vet­eran, Col. W.G. Owen­bey, and shortly there­after, the mu­ral was moved to the court­house.

Fast for­ward to 1976, when the lo­cal DAR led a drive to clean and re­store the mu­ral, then to 2009-10, when an­other restora­tion was un­der­taken to co­in­cide with the ren­o­va­tions at the his­toric court­house. Now, the women agree, his­tory lovers need to be re­minded of the mu­ral since the build­ing is no longer the cen­ter of Wash­ing­ton County.

“His­tory is im­por­tant,” Co­ley says. “We need to pre­serve what we have been given. If we want to ‘keep Fayet­teville funky,’ we need to give credit to folks who came be­fore.”

Both women hope they might also in­spire an in­ter­est in ge­neal­ogy. The Mar­ion Chap­ter’s lin­eage com­mit­tee meets Mon­days from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Fayet­teville Pub­lic Li­brary to help those in­ter­ested in their roots.

“We won’t do it for you,” Co­ley says, “but we’ll hold your hand.”

They also want their au­di­ence to know mem­bers of the DAR “don’t sit around and eat bon­bons.” Founded in 1890, the DAR’s ob­jec­tives are his­toric preser­va­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and pa­tri­o­tism. And if they can re­cruit new con­verts, so much the bet­ter.

PHOTO COUR­TESY AM­JAD FAUK

The World War I mu­ral in its en­tirety is 8 feet by 36 feet.

NWA DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE/ANDY SHUPE

De­tail of the mu­ral com­mis­sioned by the DAR to re­mem­ber men from Wash­ing­ton County who died in World War I.

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