OHIO VALLEY — The Return Jonathan Meigs Chapter of the The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) met Saturday to review their accomplishments of 2015 and plan for the new year.
Local historian Michael Gerlach presented a program for the group on the topic of local black history.
Michael Gerlach highlighted a bit of Middleport/Meigs County Black History through the story of a grandfather and grandson who came out of post– bellum Middleport and whose contributions are still an influence to the town and the county today.
The massive numbers of newly freed slaves as a result of the ongoing Civil War were still in danger in southern states. The speaker made the analogy to modern refugees, civilians fleeing a war torn country with few physical possessions and of a culture distinct from the (at the time) primarily German Middleport.
The ease of integration varied, and while the Ku Klux Klan and other anti-immigrant forces would eventually swell after the war, initially the freed slaves settled in the north and began building better lives. Samuel B. Allen emigrated to Ohio after being freed from slavery near the end of the Civil War. Despite lacking formal education, the “industrious” Samuel B. Allen opened several highly successful restaurants and hotels in southern Ohio, including what became the premier establishment in Middleport. The building would later become the La Salle, a Middleport landmark.
His grandson, Sam C. Allen, became a mover and shaker of jazz music, as a member of Josephine Baker’s travel band, credited by Dizzy Gillespie in shaping his career.
Such stories in black history often remained buried, and the subject of the presentation only recently came to the attention of Gerlach, an expert historian of the area.
“Here were two men Middleport can claim as their own, two important individuals, and I just now am learning of them,” he said. “The history here was right under my nose this whole time.”
In 2015, the Meigs Chapter of DAR celebrated 107 years of membership in the national organization, which was founded on Oct. 11, 1890. During this period in U.S. history, there was a revival in patriotism and renewed interest in the beginnings of the United States. Women who wanted to express their patriotic feeling were frustrated by their exclusion from men’s organizations and decided to form their own.
The women dedicated themselves to “promoting patriotism, preserving American history and securing America’s future through better education for children”.
Upon review of the Meigs chapter’s activities during 2015, it was noted that more than 2,244 volunteer hours were recorded as members served in a wide range of community projects, including the cleaning and restoring of the area around the site of young George Washington’s only overnight stay in Ohio.
The group received awards from several committees: Celebrate American!, DAR American Indian, Constitution Week, Americanism, National Defense and President General’s Project.
One of the highlights of the year was regent Opal Grueser’s chairing of the OSDAR 90+ Celebrants’ Committee. Members attended the state conference, Fall Fun Fair and district meeting.
A project of the group is collecting box tops and UPC labels from participating merchandise. The tops and labels are sent to participating DAR schools.
Active military families were sent more than 21,000 manufacturers coupons and Wounded Warriors was provided with more than 700 stamps to be used in one of their rehabilitation programs. The group also sent more than 60 books and magazines to the Meigs County Library and a local nursing facility, and about 300 bookmarks were provided to local schools and libraries.
DAR is one of the most inclusive genealogical societies in the country. The organization includes woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background. Applicants must prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution to become a member.
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.