One of the best aspects of being regent of my chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is exploring our colonial connections to Georgetown, a neighborhood many of our members call home.
One such connection started out as a sad discovery, but — thanks to the unifying work of like-minded women — was turned into a happy ending.
Last year, as the Constitution Chapter looked ahead to our 120th anniversary, I did some cursory searches online for information on the ladies who started our organization back in 1898.
I happened upon the Wikipedia page of our founding regent, Judith Ellen Horton Foster, and learned about her remarkably progressive life. She was a lawyer before women had the right to vote, an author before most of her peers even considered a college education and a passionate lecturer on politics and temperance when women’s voices were discounted and derided.
While living in Washington at the turn of the 20th century, Foster, along with her equally formidable female law partner, started a DAR chapter to encourage members to study the Constitution and their rights therein. Thus, the name of the chapter we’ve held dear for over a century. We still read the preamble to the Constitution before most of our meetings.
Much to my amazement, I read online that Foster was buried in an unmarked grave at Oak Hill Cemetery. Certainly not, I thought! How could such a trailblazing and important figure be lying unforgotten since her death in 1910? Better question: how were previous chapter leaders unaware of this?
On a rainy afternoon last August, I made the trek to Oak Hill to find her burial place. Soggy cemetery map in hand, I wandered the wet and winding Rock Creek paths and finally found the spot where she lay, as I feared, with no marker, except for the cold plot number.
Thanks to our membership’s quick fundraising efforts and the cooperation of our national historian general, Mrs. Foster now has a beautiful new gravestone, befitting her place in our country and community.
Next month, DARs from the District will gather for a special ceremony at Oak Hill Cemetery and give thanks for her inspiring legacy.