Inside this Issue
Glimpse into the lives and passions of the diverse group of women who comprise today’s DAR membership.
Take a step inside the DAR Museum for a closer look at its fascinating collection.
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.
No Horsing Around
By Lena Anthony
Photograph courtesy of Erika Gonzalez
Volume 151, Number 9, May/June 2016, Page 5
Erika Gonzalez was just 4 years old when she first rode a horse. By the age of 12, she owned one. Today, she owns two. In the barn, these horses answer to George and Blake, but on competition days, they are known as Copper Dancer and Yes, This is It—names that pay respect to the horses’ thoroughbred racing pedigrees.
During equestrian competition season, which runs late March through the beginning of November in her home state of Maryland, Ms. Gonzalez rides at least five days a week, sometimes six, depending on which horse she’ll ride in any given event. George is her primary horse and generally enters intermediate-level competitions with her; Blake is younger and currently competing at a lower level (that means the fences he jumps are lower and wider). Some years, Ms. Gonzalez travels south for the winter, training in an equestrian community like Aiken, S.C., or Ocala, Fla.
“The horses love going south because it’s warmer for them,” said Ms. Gonzalez, a member of Goshen Mills DAR Chapter, Gaithersburg, Md. “It also gives me a head start on the season, which I sometimes need depending on what my goals are for that year.”
In 2014, Ms. Gonzalez (and George) won second place in the amateur division at an international equestrian event in Lexington, Va. She qualified for the event by placing in five previous ones and was there as a representative of the United States.
“Competing for the United States was an amazing and rewarding experience,” she said. “Not only to recognize all the hard work it took us to get there, but also to compete against amateur riders and professionals alike from several different countries. Qualifying was a win in itself, but coming in second place made it even sweeter.”
She’s in the amateur division because she’s not an equestrian by trade. Ms. Gonzalez balances her passion for riding with a full-time job as an environmental scientist. Previously, she worked in petroleum remediation, helping return contaminated sites back to or close to what they were before a spill occurred. In March, she started a new job helping construction sites comply with state environmental regulations.
For the past 10 years, Ms. Gonzalez has served as a volunteer coach and mentor for young equestrians through the United States Pony Club. In addition, she rescues retired racehorses and retrains them for equestrian competition. Blake is her second rescue from the Charles Town Races in Charleston, W.Va.
“You basically have to start from scratch and teach them how to be a horse again,” she said. “There are many people in the equestrian world who think that they can’t place in an event unless they get a horse from Europe, but they lose sight of the natural talent we have here in this country. These former racehorses are extremely athletic and have great brains. All they need is a little time.”
Admiration of American racehorses comes naturally to Ms. Gonzalez, who has pride for both her Revolutionary War and Hispanic heritages. In high school, she was selected to participate in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute for young Hispanic leaders; today, she serves as Corresponding Secretary for her DAR chapter.
“It adds diversity to my experience as an American,” said Ms. Gonzalez, whose father permanently immigrated to the United States from Chile when he was 21.
“Having a Patriot in my family grounds me here and helps me see how important it is to support the work our Founding Fathers did in making this such a great country. At the same time, my Hispanic heritage helps me connect to more people and understand why so many people want to be a part of this American dream.”
Ms. Gonzalez spends most of her free time in the barn with her horses. She does leave some of it for her fiancé, Adam, whom she’ll marry in September.
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Photography by Mark Gulezian
Volume 151, Number 8, May/June 2016, Page 4
Pocket watches have been around since the 1400s. The invention of the tempered coiled steel springs in place of a pendulum made possible handheld watches like the one above. This sterling silver example dates to around 1710 and is signed by P. Menetrier of Amsterdam (figure 1). Featuring its original hour and minute hands, the silver face is elaborately engraved with Roman and Arabic numerals. Birds, strap work scrolls, tendrils, a scallop shell and grotesque masque decorate the center of the face.
The outside decorations pale in comparison to the inside. Upon opening the watch, an elaborate engraved interior can be seen. The top is engraved with an Arabesque motif of intertwining leaves, flowers, birds, a cherub’s head and even a squirrel. These elements are made out of gilt brass.
The mechanical part encompassing the gears and spring is located below the embellished top (figure 2). Two important parts of the watch’s mechanism can be seen. The spring is visible on the left above the case hinge. Wrapped around the spring is a steel chain. To the right of the spring is a large gear with a grooved conical element. The chain connects both the spring and gear together. When wound, the chain pulls on the spring and regulates the uncoiling that in turn helps the watch maintain accurate time.
Both men and women wore pocket watches. These could be expensive when new. In probate inventories they range in value from 4 pounds for a plain silver model to 18 pounds for a gold-cased version. In today’s currency that would be approximately $300 to $4,400.
For more National Treasures, please visit the DAR Museum's Featured Objects.
Cycling Through History by Rex Hammock
Experience America’s history in a whole new way: on a bicycle. The bicycle tourism industry has grown rapidly over the years, with more people journeying America’s historic byways on two wheels.
Seeds in Circulation by Lena Anthony
Seed libraries—collections of seeds available to the public—are sprouting up all over the country. These special libraries tell part of the history of America’s cultural heritage, and inspire a new generation of gardeners.
Time After Time by Elise Warner
We rely on our smartphones today, but in 3500 B.C., the Greeks and Egyptians used shadow clocks to measure time. Over centuries, scientists have mastered the art of timekeeping.
The Burning of the Gaspee by Bill Hudgins
June marks the 234th anniversary of the burning of the HMS Gaspee, one of the earliest acts of Patriot defiance. The attack created such outrage in Great Britain that some claim it was the first “shot heard ‘round the world.”
Spirited Adventures: Wichita, Kansas by Courtney Peter
Wichita was founded as a cattle trading town, but today, this heartland city is known for its educational and recreational opportunities.
Historic Homes: Lasell Hall by Jamie Roberts
Hurricane Irene damaged Lasell Hall in Schoharie, N.Y., but DAR members and community volunteers joined together to restore it.
Our Patriots: John Jay by Courtney Peter
Co-author of the Federalist Papers and the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, Jay was a staunch supporter of patriotism and the Constitution.
Plus the President General’s Message and Whatnot
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To Come in July/August 2016:
Long May it Wave: Annin & Co. Flagmakers
Playing in the Colonies
Regulators of North Carolina