Of the thirty-eight members of the Gunnison Valley Chapter in 2001, twenty are local; the others live elsewhere.
Gunnison Valley Chapter was chartered on February 25, 1917 with eighteen members signing the charter. This charter is one of the few numbered Colorado charters issued.
This Chapter is the oldest patriotic organization still in existence in Gunnison.
With the enthusiastic band of eighteen patriotic women, much work was accomplished in the years that followed. A quote from the first minutes stated, "The Regent, Mrs. Shackleford, presided with grace and dignity." "The American Golden Rule", she said, "was to love your neighbors as yourself and your country more than yourself."
This Chapter continues to support Veteran activities in peacetime and war. Each year the Chapter has a program dedicated to our Veterans and takes gifts and other articles to the nearest VA hospital in Grand Junction. A member has received an award for 1000 hours of Veteran volunteer service, and other members have given many hours of service to Veterans.
Since 1917, this Chapter has knitted articles for soldiers and rolled bandages in support of the war efforts, and now in peacetime our members bake cookies for the disabled Veteran's ski clinic held in Crested Butte, Colorado. Gunnison Valley Chapter of the NSDAR organized the Gunnison Red Cross Chapter soon after it was established in Switzerland in 1917.
Constitution Week has been very important to us. During this week, our Chapter initiates activities at the schools, the churches, through newspaper articles and a Proclamation from the Mayor to inform the Gunnison Community of the importance of our Constitution. The churches and schools are asked to participate in "Bells across America."
To recognize our American history, we sponsor the American History and Christopher Columbus Essay Contests as well as the American History Teacher award. We present American History Programs at our meetings and also honor George Washington through weekly news articles. During 1999, our Mayor recognized the 200-year anniversary of the death of George Washington with a Proclamation.
By donating a display case to the Gunnison Pioneer Museum, our Chapter has been able to display many historical articles including our 1976 Bicentennial quilt, which was made and signed by Chapter members. Also, President and Mrs. Gerald Ford and our 1976 NSDAR President General signed the quilt. Other memorabilia on display include antique dishes, a 13-star flag, our Chapter Charter, and a picture of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was found in a Gunnison attic.
We have three new grave markers for our deceased members. These are for Jean Besse, Winona McKee, and Mary Margaret Doyle.
Members have documented records of all Gunnison County cemeteries and the early records of the Episcopal Church, showing births, deaths, and marriages, which have been kept from its founding in the early 1880's. These records have been placed in the genealogical section of the local library and sent to the State and National DAR.
This Chapter honored a member of the community for gathering and selling aluminum cans. From his efforts, about $1800 each year is donated to the Gunnison Health Care Center. The Hartman Rocks Users' Group was awarded the NSDAR Conservation medal and certificate for its outstanding clean up and restoration work in the Hartman Rocks Recreation area.
This Chapter has awarded a medal and certificate to the Good Citizen each year since 1952.
We continue to support our Indian Schools with clothing and soup labels.
Twenty-five, forty and fifty-year certificates were given to our members.
HISTORY OF CHAPTER NAME
The Gunnison Valley Chapter was named for forty-one year old Captain John W. Gunnison, who, as a United States Army Topographical Engineer with eleven years of wilderness surveying behind him, camped along the river in 1852. The Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, selected him to survey a railroad route through the Rocky Mountains crossing the Continental Divide at a point near Cochetopa Pass. His work paved the way for the Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Rail Road built in the early 1880's from Salida over Marshall Pass to Gunnison, through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and on to the West. Captain Gunnison lost his life to Indians in Utah in 1853.
The Gunnison River, Town, County, and Valley were also named for Captain Gunnison.
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