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Inside this Issue

November/December 2016

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
Honored to Serve
In celebration of Veterans Day, American Spirit salutes three Daughters who have willingly sacrificed for our nation

Volume 150, Numbers 13, 14 & 15
By Lena Anthony
Photographs courtesy of Major General Peggy Wilmoth, Dr. Nancy Taft and Jeanette Barrows

Peggy Wilmoth
Atlanta Chapter, Atlanta, Ga.

Peggy Wilmoth’s childhood dream was to become an Army nurse. That dream has come true and then some. In 2015, after being confirmed by the 
U.S. Senate, Major General Wilmoth became the first nurse in the 106-year history of the Army Reserve to serve as Deputy Surgeon General. In this position, she advises the Army Surgeon General on the mobilization and readiness of Army Reserve medical personnel.

Her Army Reserve career began 35 years ago, when she was commissioned as a captain. A highlight of her career came in 1984, when MG Wilmoth earned the Expert Field Medical badge, one of the most prestigious Army special skill badges.

“It’s extremely hard to earn, and it’s rare for officers to have it,” she said. “But it’s important for a leader to validate that they understand what it takes to be a soldier. It’s important to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

She did just that when her own son and daughter-in-law, both in the Army Reserve, mobilized to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I have not only sent other people’s sons and daughters to war, but I have sent my own,” she said. “I understand the family toll and the family sacrifice of commitment.”

Since joining the Army Reserve, MG Wilmoth has juggled the demands of two full-time careers. Outside of the Army Reserve, MG Wilmoth is a professor of nursing at Georgia State University, where she previously served as dean of the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions. Her focus is on health policy, which she honed as a fellow in the competitive Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows program in 2009. For a year, she worked on Capitol Hill in the Office of the Speaker of the House, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi.

The balancing act can be challenging, but there are two factors that keep her and other reservists motivated.

“We do it for the love of country,” she said. “And we do it because of the bonds of friendship. It’s the people you serve alongside of—your battle buddies—who keep you doing this juggling act.”

As an Army officer and nurse, MG Wilmoth is also committed to good health: She counts running and yoga among her favorite hobbies. She also likes to travel, especially to North Carolina where she can see her son, Michael, daughter-in-law, Tara, and her granddaughter, Emma. Another son, John, lives in Atlanta.

As a woman in the military, MG Wilmoth says her membership in DAR is especially important. “I really appreciate the love of country that bonds Daughters together,” she said.

Nancy Taft, M.D.
Captain William Penny Chapter, Chatham, Ill.

Nancy Taft, M.D., has always been patriotic, but it wasn’t solely a love of country that led her to the Army Reserve just 22 days before 9/11. A single mother of two and full-time nurse, she needed the extra money to help pay her medical school bills and to help send her children, Megan and Nathan, to college.

A surgeon specializing in breast cancer surgery, she graduated from medical school in 2004, and was called up for her first deployment the following year. She spent four months at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, filling in for active-duty doctors who were sent to the front lines in Iraq. Four years later, she deployed to the Forward Operating Base Salerno in Afghanistan, where she helped staff a combat support hospital.

In 2013, she returned to Afghanistan. At Kandahar Airfield, she was part of a forward surgical team, a small, mobile unit composed of 20 medical professionals. The unit practiced hooking up supplies to a helicopter and quickly setting up a triage center upon landing, so that they would be able to perform so-called damage control surgery on wounded soldiers and civilians within 90 minutes of touching down.

“It was intense,” Dr. Taft said. “I was either stabilizing badly injured patients, or was ready to at a moment’s notice. We had to practice every day so that when it happened, we knew it would all run smoothly.”

Dr. Taft initially committed to the Army Reserves for eight years, but she stayed on for seven more. In March 2016, after 15 years, the lieutenant colonel was honorably discharged. After serving her country, she said she has developed a deeper appreciation for her membership in the Captain William Penny DAR Chapter, Chatham, Ill.

“There was nothing more rewarding as a surgeon than to be in Afghanistan in the middle of the war and to be a part of a close-knit team that helps save soldiers’ lives and helps get them home and back to their families,” she said. “I feel so privileged that I got to live a part of our nation’s history. And I came home so grateful that I was born in this country.”

When she left the Army Reserves last spring, she also made another leap—from the Midwest, which had been home nearly her entire life, to a new job in Jupiter, Fla. The self-proclaimed workaholic said she doesn’t have much free time, but she spends it exercising, reading and visiting with family. 

Jeanette Barrows
Roger Sherman Chapter, New Milford, Conn.

Military service is a family tradition for Jeanette Barrows. As a member of the Roger Sherman Chapter, New Milford, Conn., she’s undoubtedly proud of her Patriot, Zadoch Noble. But the eight generations after him have also served, including Ms. Barrows.

Ms. Barrows is a Hospital Corpsman First Class in the U.S. Navy Reserve. She enlisted in 2000 after receiving her paramedic’s license—and a letter from the Navy expressing interest in her joining.

“For patriotic reasons, I had wanted to be a part of the military when I graduated from college, but I wasn’t able to join,” she said. “When I got the letter, I realized this was the chance to finally be able to serve my country.”

In 2014, Ms. Barrows deployed to the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan for seven months. She served as the lead petty officer for the 12-bed trauma bay, which treated serious casualties. On one occasion, after a nearby medical clinic was bombed, the trauma bay treated 50 patients in the span of four hours. “But that was a rarity,” she said. “Every day was not like that.” In fact, many of the injuries Ms. Barrows saw in the hospital were construction-related. 

When she wasn’t working 24-hour shifts, Ms. Barrows spent a lot of time on her own. “I was there during the drawdown, so there wasn’t much to do in terms of entertainment,” she said. Luckily, Internet service had improved, so she could Skype almost daily with her family.

When she returned home, she resumed her job at the Girl Scouts of Connecticut managing the organization’s adventure programs, such as archery, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

“It’s so rewarding to see girls get outside and do the things that challenge them to be stronger and grow into smart, self-reliant young women,” she said.

Using her skills as a paramedic, Ms. Barrows volunteers as an EMT and teaches first aid and CPR in her community. She’s also a member of her local garden club.

During her deployment, the New Milford, Conn., Garden Club planted flowers in her honor. “They sent me a picture and let me know what they had done,” she said. “These four planters in the middle of downtown were spilling over with red, white and blue flowers, and it was all for me.”


For more Today’s Daughters, please click here.

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

National Treasures
Pewter Power

Volume 150, Number 12, November/December 2016, Page 16
Photography by Mark Gulezian

From the earliest days of American colonization and far into the 19th century, pewter was an integral part of day-to-day living. Pewterers’ wares included spoons, plates, bowls, tankards, lamps, chamber pots, inkstands, nursing bottles, buttons and even sundials.

The Danforths were one of Colonial America’s foremost families of pewterers, and the DAR Museum owns several of their pieces. Patriarch Thomas Danforth owned a shop and sold pewter and other metal wares in Norwich, Conn., starting somewhere around 1733. His son, Thomas Danforth II, who moved to Middletown, is often called Connecticut’s most important pewterer not only for his exemplary skills, but also for his training of apprentices and successful business practices. His six sons followed him in the trade, and at least 19 members of subsequent generations became pewterers or pursued allied metal trades from 1755 until about 1873.

The Danforths worked in several Connecticut towns, as well as Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., and Augusta, Ga. Since the chronicle of their lives is complicated by the duplication of Danforth given names and family trademarks, Connecticut Pewter and Pewterers by John Carl Thomas (Connecticut Historical Society, 1976) is a helpful resource for clarification of family history.


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

More Articles

How the American Santa Claus Conquered Christmas by Karl Felsen
American Spirit traces the stories path of St. Nicholas, from his real-life origins in Asia Minor to his modern—and American—identity as Santa Claus.

A Breath of Fresh Air by Lena Anthony
Since the late 19th century, charitable organizations have used nature to nurture needy children. Discover how the Fresh-Air Movement got its start and how the cause endures today.

‘Our Trusty Friends’ by Bill Hudgins
Serving as scouts, guides and warriors, the Oneidas played a critical role in the American Revolution. The 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua recognizing Oneida sovereignty, land rights and tax freedoms remains in effect today.  

Over an Open Hearth by Samantha Johnson
Generations of Americans have experienced the satisfying crackle of food cooking over an open heart. For colonists, it was a necessity; today, it’s born of a desire to create food slowly and methodically, with old-fashioned, time-tested methods of our ancestors.

Revealing Alaska by Courtney Peter
Searching for the elusive Northern Passage, which would shorten trade routes to the East, Captain James Cook led an expedition that offered one of the first records of the land that would become America’s 49th state.


Spirited Adventures: San Diego, Calif. by Jamie Roberts
After a few false starts, colonists began arriving in San Diego in the late 18th century. Today, this “birthplace of California” retains much of its early allure.

Historic Homes: Pennsylvania House by Courtney Peter
A place for pioneers to rest, refresh and refuel, this stately Springfield, Ohio, former inn is now under the care of the Lagonda DAR Chapter.

Our Patriots: Andrew Pickens by Jamie Roberts
After distinguishing himself as a militia leader in the Revolution, the Scots-Irish Patriot settled in South Carolina and represented the state in the U.S. House.

Plus the President General’s Message and Whatnot

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To Come in January/February 2017:

A Day in the Life of an Archivist
Thieves in the Archives
Early American Handwriting
Windsor Fry