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.
A Blue Ribbon Daughter
By Lena Anthony
Photograph courtesy of Wendy Faulconer
Volume 148, Number 4, July/August 2014, Page 4
Every August, hundreds of thousands of people flock to rural Sedalia, Mo., population 21,500, for the Missouri State Fair. The historic fairground has been in use since the first state fair in 1901 and is one of few historic fairgrounds remaining in the country. Sixty-four of the fairground buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and unlike many modern fairgrounds, Sedalia’s offers a park-like setting with expansive grass lawns and giant shade trees. The historic buildings and setting are some of the fair’s biggest draws, but they also pose some of its biggest challenges, with upkeep of both consuming large parts of already slim budgets.
Wendy Faulconer takes on those challenges as executive director of the Missouri State Fair Foundation. In her role as the foundation’s only paid employee, Ms. Faulconer works to raise funds that support historic preservation, fairground improvements and agricultural education.
From January through June, Ms. Faulconer builds the foundation’s member donor base, composed mostly of Missouri farmers and other agricultural business owners. In July her focus turns to fundraising events such as the annual Governor’s Ham Breakfast, which draws elected officials and agricultural leaders from across the state. After the 11-day fair is over, Ms. Faulconer concentrates on showing appreciation to the foundation’s members and its 200-plus volunteers, and seeing that the funds raised are put to good use.
One building in dire need of foundation funds is the Womans Building, a three-story Georgian Revival-style house built in 1910. Its first floor is used during the fair, and the basement houses the fair museum.
“It’s the most beautiful building on our fairground, but it’s in need of a lot of renovation,” Ms. Faulconer says.
The first floor once featured a parlor where women could drink tea and enjoy craft displays. The second floor had a nursery and smaller rooms where women could nurse infants and let their children nap, and on the third floor there was a ballroom.
“It really speaks to the value of family and the fair being a place to strengthen family bonds,” she says. “At a time when women couldn’t even vote, they built a special place just for them.”
The fair’s primary aim is to celebrate Missouri’s thriving agricultural industry, but another purpose is to educate the general public, she says.
“I’ve always felt like the key to our success is roots and wings,” says Ms. Faulconer, a member of Thomas Hart Benton Chapter, Warsaw, Mo. “We need strong roots, like knowing where we came from and what made us who we are, so we have good direction for the future. We do that through a fun venue, but the fair is not simply about cotton candy and carnival rides. It’s about education, relationships and fostering agrarian values.”
Ms. Faulconer says she sees a lot of parallels between the fair and the DAR.
“Some of the things that have made our country successful from its birth have been agriculture, work ethic, spirit of independence, and a passion for doing something and doing it right,” she says. “Those fundamental agrarian values are all things our Founding Fathers fought for.”
Ms. Faulconer joined the DAR in 2009 after helping her 14-year-old son, Rayne, with a family tree project in school. She wanted Rayne “to know that he came from a really long line of men of integrity and purpose.”
Active in 4-H, her son has raised calves since he was 8 years old.
“I had no idea what I was getting myself into when he asked if he could show a calf at the fair,” Ms. Faulconer says. “I pay the feed bills, but he does all the chores. That’s his job, rain or shine.”
For more Today’s Daughters, please click here.
To nominate a Daughter for a future issue, e-mail a description to email@example.com.
Pride and Devotion
Photography courtesy of Mark Gulezian/Thinkstock
Volume 148, Number 4, July/August 2014, Page 5
Little is known about the techniques and professional careers of 18th- and 19th-century American artists. Visual evidence is even rarer, but the DAR Museum collection contains an example: a small painting that portrays a young aspiring artist at work. John Wesley Venable’s self-portrait also directs attention to his subject-within-a-subject, his first wife Sarah Farnsworth Venable (1823–1873).
Born in Washington, D.C., John Wesley Venable (1822–1908) began traveling through Maryland and Virginia as an itinerant painter at age 18. About 1842 he moved to Covington, Ky. Occasionally, Venable made the 120-mile journey to Danville, Ky., to further his career as a portraitist and teacher. On October 27, 1846, he married Sarah Elizabeth Farnsworth in Danville.
Venable became a candidate for the Episcopal ministry in 1849. According to Michael R. Averdick, author of a biographical entry in The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky (University of Kentucky Press, 2009), while preparing for the ministry Venable taught painting and drawing at Shelby College in Shelbyville, Ky. Ordained in 1854, Venable began a ministry spanning 35 years and at least four parishes. A plaque commemorates his 27 years as rector of St. John’s Church in Versailles, Ky.
Three of Venable’s handwritten sermons, each showing artistic attention to detail, came to the DAR Museum with the self-portrait.
He spent the final years of his ministry at Grace Church in Hopkinsville, Ky. Venable retired in 1894 and lived the rest of his life in Hopkinsville.
The painting is a gift of Claire Long, Honorary State Regent, Kentucky State Society.
For more National Treasures, please visit the DAR Museum's Featured Objects.
Finding Family on Facebook by Lena Anthony
DAR members share stories of how they’ve connected with relatives and found missing links in their family history using social media tools.
Manhattan’s Magic Map by Bill Hudgins
A Revolutionary-era battle map helped scientists rediscover the remarkably diverse ecology of New York City in 1609.
A History of the American Vacation by Nancy Mann Jackson
Limited economic means—and staunch religious beliefs—kept many early Americans from traveling, but it wasn’t long before they were convinced vacationing was good for the mind, body and soul.
Georgia’s African-American Hero of the Revolution by Robert S. Davis
Despite a flawed 19th-century account of the life of Revolutionary soldier Austin Dabney, a more complete record is emerging.
Spirited Adventures: Monmouth County, N.J. by Courtney Peter
During the Revolutionary War, beaches now known for their bustling boardwalks or isolated dunes served as launching points for Loyalist raids and havens of illegal trade with the British.
Historic Homes: Locust Grove by Jamie Roberts
Preservationists have helped return this Louisville home’s appearance to 1809, the year George Rogers Clark, its most famous resident, arrived.
Our Patriots: George Rogers Clark by Jeff Walter
George Rogers Clark’s daring efforts nearly doubled the size of the United States, adding territory that would become Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
Bookshelf reviews Sons of the Father: George Washington and His Proteges by Robert M.S. McDonald
Plus: President General’s Message, Whatnot and Letters to the Editor
To purchase an issue of American Spirit, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe to American Spirit, visit Subscribe.
Coming in September/October 2014:
Jersey Boys: The Friendship of Aaron Burr, Aaron Ogden and Jonathan Dayton
Researching Scottish Ancestors
The New Sweden Colony in Wilmington, Del.
Our Patriots: Anthony Wayne