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WHAT WE ARE DOING AND
GOOD WORK OF ARMY AND NAVY CHAPTER OF
WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
AMONG the patriotic labors of organizations of women in all parts of the country during the war with Spain, the good work of the Army and Navy Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, ought not to be overlooked. The members of this Chapter are wives, widows, and daughters of officers in the Regular Army and Navy. The Chapter holds its meetings in Washington, but has many non-resident members, the regular attendance being about half the membership.
At the outbreak of the war societies were formed in many States for making and furnishing various supplies to the soldiers, especially the volunteers from their own States, and for aiding the destitute families of men who had gone to the front. The Regular Army and Navy belong to the country at large; there is no State which feels an especial care for them or for the families they leave behind. This the Army and Navy Chapter realized, and knowing the conditions of garrison life, they foresaw much suffering among the families of soldiers in the field, and felt that here was their opportunity for work.
The pay of a private is $13 a month, with board, lodging, and a certain amount of clothing for himself, but no allowance for his family. Under these circumstances, the women must earn money for their own support. They can usually find employment sewing and washing for the garrison, and going out to service in officers' families. At a frontier post this is all they can do; near a city they may find other work. When troops are ordered suddenly into the field, as they have been this summer, there is no time or means to provide for the women; they are simply left behind. When a volunteer obeys the call of his country and goes to fight her battles, he leaves his wife in his own State, and in case of need she is not friend
less; but when a "regular" marches away with his regiment he leaves his wife a stranger in a strange land, far from her home, and with her means of support gone. Many women are thus living near deserted frontier posts, with no work and no money to move to find work elsewhere. Add to this the delay in paying men in the field, and the irregularity of the mail service, which made it impossible for them to send money home, and it will be readily understood that the suffering this summer has been very great.
At the meeting of the Chapter the first Monday in May, a committee of five was appointed to organize a relief society. The sum of $50 from the Chapter treasury was voted them, and they at once called weekly meetings for sewing. The response was immediate. Not only members of the Chapter, but their friends gave money, materials, and clothing, attended the sewing meetings and corresponded with friends at a distance about cases of need. All through the hot summer the work has been carried on. Officers were kept on duty in the city, hard at work in the War and Navy Departments, and their wives and daughters busied themselves caring for wives and children of enlisted men whose duty to their country called them away. Very soon there were sad stories of widows and orphans, helpless and penniless. In one case an officer wrote home to his wife that he had just read the burial service over a sergeant in his company, killed at Santiago, and she must do all she could for the poor fellow's widow and children. A tew days later the officer himself was killed, and his widow, no longer able to help the woman, asked aid for her from the Army and Navy Chapter. They sent a package of clothing for the four children, mourning for the widow, and money for food, and received in reply most grateful letters. Another soldier's widow wrote from a far western post thanking the Chapter for their help, saying she felt as if there were somebody who cared for her. One woman, not knowing where to turn for help, wrote in despair to Mrs. McKinley. She was ill and the money her husband sent her was lost in the mail, leaving her and her children destitute among strangers. The letter was given to the Army and Navy Chapter, and money and clothing were sent her promptly.
All cases are carefully investigated, either by an officer, a member of an officer's family, or a clergyman, thus making sure that there is real need and that the beneficiary is worthy.
A recent report of the summer's work by the Chairman of the Relief Committee shows that they received donations of $426.03, 300 yards of material, fifty new garments, and a large quantity of partly worn clothing. The sum of $305.46 was disbursed chiefly for rent, and food, with a small amount for materials and expenses on packages sent out. More than thirty families of soldiers and sailors were assisted, some as far west as Texas and Idaho, and others nearer home. Since the date of the report more money and clothing have been received and given, and continued aid must be sent to women already on the list. There has been no public appeal in the papers, but through the efforts of members of the Chapter many donations have been received. Woodward & Lothrop have given seventy-five yards of material, and the United States, Adams, and Southern Express Companies have made great reductions in express charges on packages of clothing. Three generous donations of money, amounting to $225, have been given by the National Relief Association of the Colonial Dames of America, through its treasurer, Miss Elizabeth Byrd Nicholas. Americans in Paris have sent $38.10 through Miss Porter, daughter of the United States Ambassador to France. Many private donations have also beeen made.
Although the war is over, the suffering still lasts, and certainly the widows and children of the brave men who fell doing their duty deserve all that can be done for them. Their chief need is help in moving to a new place and finding work to support themselves. The pension of a soldier's widow is only from $5 to $8 a month. The wives of absent soldiers are still .2 care. The chaplain's wife at Fort Sherman, Idaho, writes that unless the regiment returns she does not see how the women will get through the winter. Doubtless this is the trouble elsewhere, and inquiries are being made about the condition and prospects of the women left at other posts. The majority of the regiments have not returned to their posts, nor will they do so, as they must do garrison duty in Cuba, Porto Rico, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Philippines. The Army and Navy Chapter therefore feel that their work is but just begun.
Donations of clothing and materials are welcome, but the great need is money, for rent, food, and traveling expenses. All gifts will be giatefully received and acknowledged by the Regent of the Army and Navy Chapter, Mrs. George M. Sternberg, 1019 Sixteenth street; or by the Chairman of the Relief Committee, Mrs. C. H. Alden, 1740 R street.
GROTON MONUMENT HOUSE.
The Groton Monument House, which is in the custody of the Anna Warner Bailey Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, and which had been closed for weeks to allow of changes and improvements, was formally reopened at four o'clock November 17th, by interesting exercises accompanying the depositing of the "Sealed Box of Records," under the main entrance to the Monument House.
Prior to the interesting exercises, there was a special meeting of the Chapter at the Bill Memorial library, where the guests were received and escorted to the Monument House, the school children joining in the escort and making a very impressive scene. There were quite a number assembled, and the exercises opened with the singing of the hymn, "For Home and Country.” After the hymn, Mrs. Cuthbert Harrison Slocomb, the earnest and indefatigable Regent of the Chapter, made the following interesting address :
Members of the Monument Association and Our Guests here assembled: You are to-day welcomed by Anna Warner Bailey Chapter of Groton and Stonington, Daughters of the American Revolution, to assist in placing beyond peradventure a few valuable statistics concerning this house and its historic surroundings. Tradition tells us that its solid walls were constructed of "the stone which the builders rejected" supplemented by a few outlying bowlders roughly split; and this you may see for yourselves. That it was created for "a keeper" or janitor's residence is clearly proven by the following memoranda of Philo Little, whose duty it has been for twenty-six years to treasure the finances and records of the Monument Association in a most conscientious and orderly fashion.