Mary Isham Keith Chapter, NSDAR

Fort Worth, Texas

Organized in August 1898

Mary Isham Keith Chapter, NSDAR, History

Edited by Honorary Regent Joye Kirk Evetts

Mary Isham Keith - Her Life and Legacy

Mary Isham Randolph Keith was a daughter of Thomas and Judith Fleming Randolph of Tuckahoe, Goochland County, Virginia, and granddaughter to Colonel William and Mary Isham Randolph of Turkey Island, Henrico County, Virginia.

About 1733, she married immigrant Rev. James Keith of Scotland, a clergyman of the Church of England, twenty-two years her senior. At thirty-five, Mary found herself a widow with eight children ranging from seven to nineteen whom she continued to raise on her own without any outside help. Although she died just prior to the Revolutionary War, her five sons, three sons-in-law, and eight grandsons all gave service to the Revolutionary War effort. Most notable among her many descendants who contributed to the formation of our young nation was her grandson, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, who dominated the court for over three decades, shaping American constitutional law and making the Supreme Court an independent and influential branch of government.

Mary Isham Keith Chapter, NSDAR, 1898 – 2020

Mary Isham Keith Chapter, NSDAR, has proudly completed 120 years of service to God, Home, and Country. Organized June 15, 1898, and chartered August 5, 1898, it was the first chapter formed in Fort Worth, the third chapter in Texas, and one of the five founding chapters of the Texas State Society in 1900.

The fourteen charter members included: Elizabeth Douglas Keith Bell, Roberta Flournoy Andrews, Martha Redd Fontaine Flournoy, Mary Alice Waller, Mary Burney Jordan Groves, Lortah Knight Stanbery, Mary Dulin Mathes Taylor, Minnie Colburn Naylor, Susan Spratt Polk Rayner, Sallie Polk Rayner Hyman, Susie Polk Hyman, Emma Stockmon Hendricks, Elizabeth Buckley Mims, and Rose Brabson Bullard.

Three charter members -- Organizing Regent Elizabeth Douglas Keith Bell, Rose Brabson Bullard and Minnie Colburn Naylor – were honored to name the chapter for their ancestor Mary Isham Keith, a patriotic mother who had a total of sixteen sons, sons-in-law and grandsons who gave service in the American Revolution.

Charter Member Susan Polk Rayner

Charter member Susan Spratt Polk Rayner, daughter of American Revolutionary soldier Colonel William Polk, was one of few DAR Real Daughters buried in Texas. Mrs. Rayner died in 1909, and was buried at historic Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth. On April 25, 2010, the chapter placed a permanent DAR granite marker on her grave to replace the original DAR marker of 1912, which had disappeared. Mrs. Rayner’s daughter and granddaughter were also chapter charter members.

Chapter members were pioneers in the newly established NSDAR. Under the leadership of organizing regent Elizabeth Bell, members began familiarizing themselves with the national requirements and objectives. When chapter activities began in the community, new members were soon attracted.

As one of the five founding chapters of the Texas State Society, the chapter was hostess to that group in 1903. Chapter members assumed leadership roles state-wide as well as locally. The chapter made a substantial contribution toward the construction of DAR Memorial Continental Hall for which the cornerstone was laid in 1904, followed by annual donations to construction funds for the Administration Building (completed in 1923) and Constitution Hall (finished in 1929).

Since its early years, the chapter has wholeheartedly supported the NSDAR mission of historic preservation, education, and patriotism. The chapter initiated projects to encourage patriotism and good citizenship which became long-standing traditions in the life of the community.


Some of the chapter’s first projects related to education -- sponsorship of annual history essay contests, the awarding of a gold medal to the high school senior doing the best work in American history, and the establishment of a student loan fund in 1928.

A genealogical section in the Fort Worth Public Library was established in 1918, with the presentation of a book case and many historical volumes. The chapter has continued to contribute books through the years. Members also donated hundreds of books to the DAR Old Textbook Library at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos and to the Old Document Room at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches.

The chapter has supported DAR schools through donations of cash and clothing as well as collecting product labels for various educational programs. For many years, the chapter sent boxes of clothing to Ellis Island to assist new immigrants arriving in this country.

To aid those studying for U.S. citizenship, citizenship classes were set up in the Fort Worth schools and the chapter provided citizenship study guides from 1921 until the guide became available to download from the NSDAR web site. Through the years, chapter members have served as volunteer instructors for citizenship classes, and the chapter has assisted with receptions at naturalization ceremonies by greeting and presenting U.S. flags to new citizens. Members have also been instructors and active promoters of literacy programs in the community.

The chapter’s first community education programs emphasized conservation and thrift. A prize was given through the Fort Worth Garden Club for the best display of native wild flowers and plants.

Initially, the chapter donated to scholarships awarded by the state and national societies. In 1928, the chapter began awarding annual scholarships to a history student at Texas Wesleyan University and to a nursing student at Texas Christian University. From 2001 to 2017, the chapter awarded the Mullins-Wallace scholarship (named in honor of dedicated chapter members Marion Day Mullins and Camille Shield Wallace) to a student attending a Texas college. In 2018, the chapter began awarding scholarships to students in the Tarrant County College LVN program. American Indian scholarships were also awarded occasionally.

In 1938, Lena Pope, founder of the local orphanage, joined the chapter. Under her guidance, the chapter held sewing classes there for twenty-six years as well as some classes in preparing and preserving foods. Sewing classes were also held at the Girls’ Service League of Fort Worth.

To recognize and encourage good citizenship, DAR Youth Citizenship Medals (formerly Good Citizenship Medals) have been awarded to junior high pupils and DAR Good Citizen Awards to outstanding high school students since 1935. The Outstanding History Teacher Award has been given periodically since 1987. The chapter has encouraged student participation in the annual DAR-sponsored American history essay contests as well as the Christopher Columbus essay contest.


Patriotism has been another major focus of activities since the chapter was started. United States flags have been given to many organizations, including public schools, the Carnegie Library, Lena Pope Home, Boy Scout camp, and Wesley House mission. Copies of the correct use of the flag leaflets (1915) and the American’s Creed (1917) were placed in all the Fort Worth public schools. Flag essay medals were given to youth at the Panther Boys Club.

In 1928, the chapter assisted in forming the Captain William Scott Society, Children of the American Revolution (C.A.R.) and has proudly served as a sponsor since the 1970s when it was reactivated. The Elisha Battle Society C.A.R. was also sponsored for many years. In 1932, the chapter helped form the Major K. M. Van Zandt Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution in Fort Worth.

In 1938, the chapter donated a flag pole and United States flag to the new Fort Worth Botanic Garden which was placed near the shelter house.

In 1987, the chapter donated flags and flag poles to The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth; and in 2006, a Texas flag and star finial were presented for use in The Woman’s Club meeting rooms.

During World War I, the chapter contributed to war efforts as well as to the Belgium Relief Fund, support for French war orphans and the rebuilding of the French village of Tilloloy. Chapter members served in every department of the great “woman’s army” needed in the cantonment city of Camp Bowie (the temporary living quarters built by the army for soldiers). The picture below, dated May 1918, depicts chapter members serving as knitting instructors for the American Red Cross (Courtesy of the New York Public Library Chapter members contributed 470 knitted garments (more than any other chapter in Texas) to American soldiers.

WWI Knitting Instructors - 1918  Embossed brass vase made from a World War I German shell casing

After World War I ended, Chapter Honorary Regent Louise Taylor Connery visited the battlefield of Château Thierry, France where she purchased the above embossed brass vase made from a World War I German shell casing. In 1921, she donated the vase to the chapter in memory of 25-year-old First Lieutenant Bothwell Kane (son of chapter member Garnet Bane Kane & her husband John D. Kane) who was killed in that battle. The vase has been in the chapter archives for almost 100 years.

In observance of the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 2018, the chapter participated with other DAR chapters in wreath laying ceremonies at cemeteries in the Fort Worth Area and the brass vase and red poppies were again displayed.

While serving the National Society as Organizing Secretary General (1941-1944), chapter member Marion Day Mullins became concerned about the safety of DAR records in Washington, D. C. At her own expense, she had the files microfilmed and placed in a Fort Worth bank vault for safe keeping until the end of World War II.

Chapter members wholeheartedly supported World War II home-front efforts by purchasing savings bonds, contributing to the blood plasma fund and other causes, and volunteering thousands of hours for the Red Cross, USO, and U.S. Public Health Service Hospital and Blood Donor Center, for which the chapter received the Red Cross award in recognition of meritorious personal service.

During the Vietnam War, the chapter sent service recognition certificates to next of kin of those killed in Vietnam. In 1972, the chapter donated to the new NSDAR Service to Veterans committee, and it began a long-time relationship of support (money, gifts and visits) to veteran patients at Carswell Air Force Base Hospital in Fort Worth.

During recent armed conflicts – such as the Gulf War Crisis, Iraq War and Afghanistan conflict – chapter members supported the military with gift packages, greeted returning military personnel, and provided assistance to the families of Fort Hood soldiers who were serving overseas.

A 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War commemoration was held November 8, 2014, at Ridglea Country Club, sponsored by Texas State Society District II to honor Vietnam veterans in North Texas. NSDAR President General Lynn Forney Young presented certificates of appreciation to all Vietnam veterans attending. Colonel Thomas Jerry Curtis USAF (Ret), one of the longest held prisoners of war in Vietnam, received the Department of Defense's Certificate of Honor.

National defense has been a chapter priority. Since 1967, outstanding ROTC cadets have received the Bronze ROTC Medal in the JROTC program at the Fort Worth Independent School District and the Gold ROTC Medal in the TCU Army and TCU Air Force ROTC programs.

To recognize outstanding patriotism and service contributions of local citizens, in 1975, the chapter began presenting NSDAR’s prestigious awards such as the DAR Medal of Honor and the Americanism Medal (visit our Awards page to view the full list).

Annual patriotic celebrations include the chapter’s George Washington luncheons as well as Constitution Week luncheons and Flag Day ceremonies which are jointly sponsored by the three DAR chapters in Fort Worth. Chapter member Dr. Martha Johnson earned national recognition twice in the NSDAR Constitution Week poster contest: second place in 2013, and first place in 2014.

In the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, DAR supported national emergency guidelines and complied with large meeting prohibitions, social distancing, and mask requirements while continuing their active support of DAR goals and programs. DAR members quickly mastered holding virtual meetings to conduct necessary business and found safe ways to continue DAR activities and community services. Chapter members sewed and donated over 1500 safety masks.

Historic Preservation

Historic preservation activities began as members supported NSDAR and Texas State Society DAR (TXDAR) activities. In 1913-15, the chapter contributed to the Texas Society’s project to resurvey and mark the Camino Real (or King’s Highway), an historic trail which crossed Texas, stretching from Mexico to Louisiana. Granite markers were placed every five miles along the Texas section which ultimately cost Texas Society DAR over $10,000 and the Texas government $8,000.

In 1921, a massive granite boulder with two bronze markers honoring Fort Worth’s early settlers and historic spots was placed by the chapter on the Tarrant County Court House square, the site of the original army post of Camp Worth (U. S. military post 1849-1853). Named in honor of General William Jennings Worth, the military post was established to protect the frontier against Indian attacks. Merchants and settlers attracted to the area remained to form the town of Fort Worth.

Tarrant County Court House Granite Marker - NSDAR Marker  Tarrant County Court House Granite Marker - Historical Plaque

The chapter placed the name "Mary Isham Keith" in a memorial window of the Valley Forge Memorial Bell Tower, built with funds raised by NSDAR members. Texas DAR contributed toward the purchase of a C-sharp bell which is part of the carillon of 80 bells housed in the tower.

To celebrate the Texas Centennial in 1936, the chapter had the Texas historical plate (below) designed by Fort Worth artist Sallie Blythe Mummert, which was cast by Wedgwood in England. The plates were sold and the profits used to establish a chapter scholarship fund.

Texas Historical Plate designed by Sallie Blythe Mummert  Mrs. Charles A. Culberson’s Gown, part of a collection of gowns of the First Ladies of Texas

Chapter member Marion Day Mullins, while serving as Texas State Regent (1937-1940), selected as her regent’s project the establishment of a collection of gowns of the First Ladies of Texas (wives of Texas Governors and United States Presidents and Vice Presidents) which was presented by the Texas Society DAR to Texas Woman’s University in Denton. The chapter donated Mrs. Charles A. Culberson’s gown (above) as part of this collection.

In 1954, the chapter marked a tree of historical significance at the Greenwood Cemetery entrance. This large live oak tree (later designated a bi-centennial tree which was alive at the time of the signing of the Constitution in 1787) marks the spot where community leader Charles Turner buried gold which provided financial aid to Fort Worth during the critical years of the Reconstruction Period.

The chapter also gave $100 toward the grave marker for General Edward H. Tarrant (for whom Tarrant County was named) which was placed at Pioneers Rest Cemetery in Fort Worth.

The NSDAR Museum correspondent docent program was started in 1982, to provide information about the museum’s outstanding collection through local community presentations. The chapter’s team, one of the first formed in the nation, has won numerous top state and national awards and its members have been recognized for their outstanding efforts. To date, over 300 programs have been presented to about 10,500 people by 25 chapter docents; currently, there are twelve active docents and one docent-in-training.

The Texas Sesquicentennial was celebrated in 1986, by sponsoring an historical marker for early Texas cattle baron C. C. Slaughter.

In 2009, the chapter awarded the new NSDAR Historic Preservation Medal to preservation architect Arthur Weinman and sponsored the Taylor Cemetery (a small 1864 family cemetery in rural Hunt County) for designation as a Texas Historic Cemetery. The chapter presented the Historic Preservation Recognition Award annually 2011 through 2013.

The chapter regent’s project for 2009-13 was dedicated to historic preservation projects which included updating the chapter history, researching the lives of the fourteen charter members, placing NSDAR insignias on the graves of the eight charter members buried in Fort Worth, purchasing grave markers for two charter members, and purchasing a new granite NSDAR grave marker for charter member Susan Polk Rayner (DAR Real Daughter) to replace the original grave marker which had disappeared.

In 2018, as part of the chapter's 120th anniversary celebration, a granite DAR commemorative marker was placed at Mission Burial Park South in San Antonio at the grave of chapter charter member Susie Polk Hyman Matlock (granddaughter of DAR Real Daughter Susan Polk Rayner).

Chapter Anniversaries

When the chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1948, the chapter was the second largest in the state with 233 members. “Golden Anniversary” contributions included $3,000 to the Texas Society’s scholarship fund at Sul Ross State Teachers College at Alpine, $100 to the redecorating and refurnishing of the Texas Room in Memorial Continental Hall, and donations to scholarships at Kate Duncan Smith and Tamassee DAR schools. The anniversary luncheon at Colonial Country Club was attended by 170 members and guests, after which flowers were taken to the graves of deceased chapter members.

The chapter marked its “Diamond Anniversary” in 1973, reaching a membership of over 350 members. For the years 1977-80 the chapter was the largest chapter in Texas, and the chapter achieved the DAR Golden Honor Roll each year during the decade of the 1970s. Also, the chapter 1898 charter was beautifully framed for display.

The chapter's 450 members celebrated the chapter 100th anniversary in 1997-1998 with centennial designations on activities throughout the year -- programs, a full-page ad in the DAR magazine, special certificates for new members during the centennial year, and increased scholarships.

At the gala centennial celebration luncheon held at The Woman's Club of Fort Worth on May 7, 1998, chapter members and guests were honored to hear the initial performance of “The Soul of America,” a song composed by chapter member Harriett Clemons for the occasion and for which she won the first place award in the NSDAR American Heritage Music Contest.

"The Soul of America"

Oh they came from the East and they came from the West, And the North and the South were joined in the quest,

And God in His mercy put them to the test, For they were the soul of America.

There were those who sought to find a solution, From the patriots who drew up the constitution, To the Daughters of the American Revolution, Any one who had a voice, Any one who made a choice, For liberty, For you, For me.

So they came from the East and they came from the West, And the North and the South are joined in the quest,

And God in His mercy has put them to the test, For they were the soul of America.

The sons of America, The daughters of America, The children of America are free, Let us not forget, America,

The lives lost, America, The battles fought, to pay, For liberty, For you, For me.

So, we come from the East and we came from the West, And the North and the South are joined in the quest,

For God in His mercy will put us to the test, For we are the soul of America,

The mind of America, The voice of America, The heart and Soul of America. America!

To celebrate the chapter's 115th anniversary, a ceremony was held at historic Oakwood Cemetery on April 1, 2014, to rededicate the NSDAR insignia at the graves of: founding regent Elizabeth Douglas Keith Bell, honorary regent Norma Rutledge Grammer, Real Daughter/charter member Susan Spratt Polk Rayner, and charter member Sallie P. Rayner Hyman. A luncheon followed.

The chapter's 120th anniversary luncheon was held September 15, 2018, at Ridglea Country Club with 145 attendees, including: state officers and committee chairs, Texas State Society District II members, and guests. Texas Society DAR State Regent Susan Tillman was the featured speaker whose topic was the 19th Amendment. A proclamation issued by Tarrant County Commissioners Court declared "September 15, 2018, as Mary Isham Keith Chapter Day throughout Tarrant County."

Other 120th anniversary events included: publication of the book "Our Patriots", a collection of patriot ancestor biographies submitted by members of the chapter during the 120th anniversary year; placement of a granite DAR commemorative marker for chapter charter member Susan Polk Hyman Matlock at Mission Burial Park South in San Antonio with State Historian GeorgiAnne Brochstein participating; and the gala George Washington Birthday Luncheon at which Gordon R. England (29th U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense who also served as the 72nd and 73rd Secretary of the Navy) recounted the navy's crucial role in winning the War for American Independence, based on his documented research.

Under the leadership of Regent Dawn Needles, the chapter's 345 members are carrying out the chapter theme "Extending the Hand of Friendship as We Serve Our Community and Nation."

Mary Isham Keith Chapter members at the 2019 Constitution Luncheon

Looking to the Future

For 130 years, the NSDAR mission has remained the same but, through the years, DAR programs have adapted to meet the changing priorities of the National Society as well as the changing needs of DAR members. Effective chapter communication with members is essential in our current fast-paced society. Email has taken the place of regular mail as the primary method of keeping members informed, and a chapter newsletter (with photographs) was started in May 2009 so that members who are unable to attend meetings would still feel connected to chapter activities. Chapter, state and national websites enable chapter members to have instant access to important DAR information. In 2015, to meet the rising popularity of social media, the chapter began a Facebook page for the public as well as two closed Facebook pages -- one for chapter members and one for chapter juniors.

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic brought major changes to the lives of all Americans. NSDAR, and its members, met this crisis by complying with social regulations and requirements while still actively supporting DAR goals and activities. When group meetings were not allowed, DAR members held virtual meetings to conduct necessary business. To strengthen DAR connection and commitment among members, a new communication tool -- membership videos featuring pictures of members engaged in various DAR activities --was developed and sent periodically to members by email.

In the years ahead, NSDAR will be challenged to communicate the DAR message effectively and to provide opportunities for DAR members and the community to be involved in reaching the important goal of an informed and responsible citizenry who believe in the principles upon which this country was founded.

We honor the past and look to the future as we "Rise and Shine for America" in service to God, Home, and Country!

2016 American Heritage Contest - Watercolor - first place national winner - Miss Ann by Dr. Martha W. Johnson

2016 American Heritage Contest - Watercolor - first place national winner, "Miss Ann" by Dr. Martha W. Johnson

Honorary Regents

Elizabeth Douglas Keith Bell (Mrs. William S.) 1898-1902

Sarah Minna Chalk Scott Hyman (Mrs. Harry) 1902-1905

May Hendricks Swayne (Mrs. John F.) 1905-1907

Lora Young Lofton (Mrs. John T.) 1907-1908

Fru Becton Wortham (Mrs. Louis J.) 1908-1910

Mary Eckman Lydick (Mrs. John E.) 1910-1911

Roberta Flournoy Andrews (Mrs. Robert) 1913-1915

Louise Taylor Connery (Mrs. Charles W.) 1915-1917

Rachel Spurlock Umbenhour (Mrs. D.R.) 1917-1919

Alma Evans McLean (Mrs. W.P.) 1919-1921

Edith Attwell Taylor (Mrs. Sam H.) 1921-1923

Sarah Henderson Carlock (Mrs. R.L.) 1923-1925

Emily Colston Tipton (Mrs. Eugene) 1925-1927

Mary Kingsberry Fain Fender (Mrs. R.W.) 1927-1929

May Richards Waples (Mrs. J.G.) 1929-1931

Julia Hale Steele (Mrs. C.H.) 1931-1933

India Hankins Beall (Mrs. E.H.) 1933-1935

Marion Day Mullins, PhD 1935-1937

Lillian Fuller McLemore (Mrs. R.H.) 1937-1939

Eunice Brooks Freese (Mrs. Simon W.) 1939-1941

Josephine Campbell McChesney (Mrs. Floyd) 1941-1943

Kate Hill Leonard (Mrs. Nelson) 1943-1945

Ray Saunders Reimers (Mrs. Charles D.) 1945-1947

Genevieve Ringo Priest (Mrs. Dan H.) 1947-1949

Myrta Ikard Thompson (Mrs. William) 1949-1951

Hattie Lipps Wilkes (Mrs. Earle C.) 1951-1953

Elizabeth Hood Huster (Mrs. William E.) 1953-1955

Camille Shield Wallace (Mrs. Karl E.) 1955-1957

Norma Rutledge Grammar (Mrs. R.N.) 1957-1959

Hazel Thompson Stephens (Mrs. Roy C.) 1959-1961

Izora Wilkes Johnson Moore (Mrs. H.P.) 1961-1963

Beryl Wallace Wilkinson (Mrs. Jack G.) 1963-1965

Cleo Pratt Walthen (Mrs. Proctor K.) 1965-1967

Julia Thompson Pool (Mrs. Walter C.) 1967-1969

Gloria Dublin Whitson (Mrs. David H.) 1969-1971

Crystelle Robert Wickett (Mrs. Kenneth L.) 1971-1973

Ann Randel Tucker (Mrs. John O.) 1973-1975

Paulyne Robbins Harmonson (Mrs. A. B.) 1975-1977

Elizabeth Crawford Livermore (Mrs. Francis S.) 1977-1979

Nancy Collier Sherman (Mrs. Winthrop C.) 1979-1981

Martha Fields Minton (Mrs. Jerry D.) 1981-1983

Virginia Hamilton Rogers (Mrs. William A.) 1983-1985

Lesbia Word Roberts (Mrs. William E.) 1985-1987

Joye Kirk Evetts (Mrs. Harold G.) 1987-1989

Terry Collins Koehler (Mrs. R. B.) 1989-1991

Linda Jenkins Anthony (Mrs. R. Ted) 1991-1993

Jean Allen Price (Mrs. Earl P.) 1993-1995

Rosemary Willeford Davis (Mrs. George J.) 1995-1997

Elizabeth McCluer Smedley (Mrs. Gordon L.) 1997-1999

Virginia Rudd Long (Mrs. Henry L.) 1999-2001

Colleen Lynch Petosa (Mrs. Michael A.) 2001-2003

Welba Smith Dorsey (Mrs. Edwin D.) 2003-2005

Linda Elam Johnson (Mrs. Harold V.) 2005-2007

Willadean Evans Ball (Mrs. Henry F.) 2007-2009

Paula Grigsby Smith (Mrs. Gerald N.) 2009-2013

Judith J. Carrier, PhD 2013-2015

Virginia Gunter Brown (Mrs. Fred M.) 2015-2017

Gwendolyn Henry Boyd (Mrs. Kirby L.) 2017-2019

Dawn Joder Needles (Mrs. Rick Loyd) 2019-2021