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Inside this Issue

March/April 2017

Glimpse into the lives and passions of the diverse group of women who comprise today’s DAR membership.

National Treasures
Take a step inside the DAR Museum for a closer look at its fascinating collection.

More Articles
Learn about the interesting historical articles from this issue.

To Come in Our Next Issue
Preview the exciting stories to be featured in the next issue of American Spirit.

Today's Daughters
Answering the Call

Volume 151, Number 2
By Lena Anthony
Photograph courtesy of Steve Vorderman

Sister Elise Kriss devotes her life to education

After growing up two blocks from her Roman Catholic parish school and church in Indiana, Sister Elise Kriss’ decision to become a sister felt like a natural step in her life’s journey. As a young girl, she was always available to help with Mass and tidy classrooms after school dismissed for the day, and she enjoyed the close relationships she formed with the sisters there. And so, in 1965, three months after graduating from high school, Sister Elise joined the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, Ind. In 2016, she celebrated her Golden Jubilee, commemorating 50 years of service to the congregation.

As a sister, she has been devoted to the Catholic Church’s educational mission. She taught fifth through eighth grade for eight years, then was promoted to school principal. In 1984, she moved to higher education, after earning a doctorate. Since 1993, Sister Elise has served as the president of the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind. Under her leadership, the school’s enrollment has more than doubled, and its reputation has grown to include multiple regionally recognized programs, including those in the creative arts and health sciences.

Capping off the academic growth, last year the football team won the National Association of Intercollegiate Activities (NAIA) National Championship game—and Sister Elise was cheering from the sidelines.

“Our football program is 19 years old, and we’ve had winning seasons for 18 consecutive years,” she said. “It has really helped make our once-sleepy institution more visible, and the support from the Fort Wayne community has been great.”

The university has also expanded its footprint, thanks to Sister Elise’s leadership. She has overseen completion of several new academic buildings and residence halls, as well as the acquisition and restoration of two historical buildings in downtown Fort Wayne two miles from campus.

“The city was really happy to see us purchase these buildings and bring new life to them,” she said.

The former Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce building now houses the University of Saint Francis School of Business, and the former Scottish Rite center has become the school’s performing arts center and music technology
studios. Two new construction projects are currently underway, including a new chapel and laboratory addition to Achatz Hall of Science.

As president, Sister Elise oversees all aspects of the university, which means meetings with vice presidents, architects, deans and donors are all part of her day. As an involved member of her community, she also serves on several local and state boards.

“I spend a lot of time relating at all levels, including to students, faculty, staff, board members and the community,” she said. “Each day is different, and it’s very fast-paced.”

Her schedule also includes time for prayer and devotion. “The sisters and I pray together in the morning and evening,” she said, “and we always have dinner together.”

Sister Elise spends her free time tending her garden, swimming, reading or visiting with family, including her sister Cathy Minor, with whom she joined DAR.

Last December, Sister Elise invited her fellow members of the Mary Penrose Wayne DAR Chapter, Fort Wayne, Ind., for a chapter meeting in a restored family home that serves as the school’s administrative building. At the meeting, Sister Elise delivered a talk about the genealogy of the family that lived there before hosting high tea in the ballroom.

“Because of my schedule, I don’t get to participate in DAR as much as I’d like,” she said. “But I do appreciate what happens at the meetings and the projects we support. I believe it is such important work.”

For more Today’s Daughters, please click here.

To nominate a Daughter for a future issue, e-mail a description to

National Treasures
A Sterling Example

Volume 151, Number 2, March/April 2017, Page 4
Photography by Mark Gulezian

The hallmark on the bottom of this sterling silver coffee pot indicates that the Philadelphia shop of Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardner made it between 1824 and 1830. A large factory, Fletcher & Gardner made all sorts of silver items ranging from simple teapots to presentation cups, wine coolers and cruet sets. The factory employed the latest technology, including die-rolled and stamping machinery to make borders and other decorative elements. The decorative bands applied to this coffee pot were made using the die-rolled process.

The firm sold their wares to other retailers. This coffee pot also bears the stamp for Baltimore silversmith Robert Campbell. Campbell then sold it to Washington, D.C., jeweler Seraphim Masi, who promptly placed his stamp on the piece. The engraved monogram “MW” is likely of the unidentified original owner.

This tall and vertically shaped coffee pot is accompanied by a matching teapot that is squat and round. Coffee or tea can be served from either, but the differences in shape might have facilitated easy identification when serving coffee and tea together.

For more National Treasures, please visit the DAR Museum's Featured Objects.

More Articles

How Coffee Became the Patriotic Pour by Bill Hudgins
In Colonial America, coffee houses served as forums to complain about British rule. As dissatisfaction with Great Britain increased, Americans gathered in them to organize protests and plan for revolution.

Julia Ward Howe: A Student of Progress by Courtney Peter
The author of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” met opposition in her quest to create lasting art and combat social injustice, but Howe continued fighting for abolition, women’s rights and her own creative voice.

Sarah Kemble Knight’s Adventure of a Lifetime by Lena Anthony
Knight’s journal of her five months’ travel from Boston to New York City in 1704 offers a rare, firsthand glance at the observations of a clever, amusing and frank Colonial woman..

Margaret Fuller: A Beacon for Women by Michael Barnett
Fuller’s book, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, profoundly impacted the women’s rights movement, inspiring the 1848 Womens Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y.

The Old Moneymaker by Megan Hamby
Familiar with how depreciation can devastate an economy, early leaders knew that establishing a strong monetary system was key to the new nation’s success. The Coinage Act passed on April 2, 1792—225 years ago.


Spirited Adventures: Nacogdoches, Texas by Courtney Peter
Billed as the oldest town in Texas, Nacogdoches is also known as the state’s Garden Capital, featuring blooming azaleas and other showy foliage in meticulously tended public gardens.

Historic Homes: The Huntington House by Damien Cregeau
Home to Revolutionary General Jedediah and Faith Trumbull Huntington, this 1765 Norwich, Conn., landmark houses several families’ worth of military, women’s and art history.

Our Patriots: Sarah Franklin Bache by Jamie Roberts
It’s no surprise that the daughter of Benjamin Franklin believed in the Revolutionary cause, but Sarah Bache also used her influence to help soldiers in the long winter at Valley Forge.

Plus the President General’s Message and Whatnot

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To Come in May/June 2017:

Junipero Serra: The Father of California
The New York Stock Exchange Rings in Its 225th Year
Colonial Iron Works
Saving Monticello