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Daughters of the American Revolution in Kansas

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (or NSDAR) was founded in 1890. Headquartered in Washington D.C., the DAR is a volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to preserving American history, and educating children, and promoting patriotism.

The DAR was established in Kansas in 1896 and has helped promote history throughout the state from its 19th century beginning through the present. The Kansas DAR has completed many projects and is involved in current ones that help tell the story of Kansas history.

DAR monument at Pawnee Rock in Barton County, KansasIn 1903 the Kansas chapter kicked off a campaign to place historical markers along the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas. It acquired red granite stones for the markers and by late 1906 were installing them. One hundred years later the Kansas DAR surveyed all the Santa Fe markers in Kansas and made repairs. Deteriorated bases were replaced, the stones cleaned, and the lettering was re-lithographed.

Pawnee Rock sits within 100 yards of the Santa Fe Trail. It is a very prominent landmark in Barton County. This rock formation was a natural high point used by travelers, and it marked the halfway point on the trail. Trail travelers considered  Pawnee Rock one of the most dangerous spots on the trail. Pawnee Rock State Historic Site is operated by the Kansas Historical Society. To commemorate the site, in 1912 a 30-foot granite obelisk was placed by the Woman's Kansas Day Club, a consortium of women's clubs, which included the Kansas DAR at the time. The Kansas DAR placed one of the red granite Santa Fe Trail DAR markers at the gate to Pawnee Rock.

In 1922 the DAR acquired a two-thirds acre tract of land containing the Pueblo ruins, known as El Cuartelejo in Lake Scott State Park, Scott County, Kansas, from Herb and Eliza Steele.  This is an extremely valuable historic site as it is the furthest northern pueblo in North America.  It was settled around 1664 by a group of Taos Indians fleeing from Spanish persecution in New Mexico. The Taos lived with a group of Plains Apaches known as the Cuartelejo band. They built a seven-room pueblo and irrigation ditches for their crops. Before 1680 the Taos were captured and returned to  New Mexico. The Picuris later resettled El Cuartelejo in 1696. They were returned to New Mexico in 1706. The pueblo then fell into ruin until all that was left was the foundation and artifacts.

DAR monument at El CuartelejoIn 1897 Handel T. Martin and S. W. Williston, paleontologists from the University of Kansas, leading an archeological investigation, verified the ruins. In 1925 the Kansas DAR installed a 12-foot granite obelisk to mark the site. In 1970 the Kansas Historical Society performed archeological work at the site and stabilized the pueblo foundation. The elements have eroded and damaged the site and the Kansas DAR, the Kansas Historical Society, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism partnered to develop a plan to preserve and interpret the site. In 2012 the Kansas DAR donated the property to the Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism in addition to $17,000 to be held in trust toward the future development of an educational center at El Cuartelejo.

The Kansas DAR and the Council Oak Chapter installed a monument called “Madonna of the Trail” in Council Grove in 1928 to provide a symbol of the courage to the women who helped settle the American frontier. There are 12 Madonna of the Trail statues erected in 12 states along the National Old Trails Road.

The Kansas Daughters also has a research library located in Dodge City. The library is open to the public.

Entry: Daughters of the American Revolution in Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2011

Date Modified: April 2018

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.