John Clarke Chapter, NSDAR
Social Circle, Georgia
In 1914 when World War I war broke out, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States. In 1915 German aggression against Britain and the United States escalated to intolerable levels. While local men gathered at our founding monument, The Well, and in downtown stores to discuss U.S. involvement in the war, women gathered in homes and churches to discuss their role in supporting our nation. On April 6, 1917, the U.S. declared war, joining its allies to fight against Germany. On April 18, 1917, eighteen women met at the home of Mrs. Sweeny and established the John Clarke Chapter of the NSDAR. Read about our first birthday celebration here and note the reference to our war work.
As Mrs. Sandifer reported on the occasion of the chapter’s 18th birthday, these women did not join just to have another social club; rather, they were a group of women who shared a common bond. All these women possessed a proven direct line to a patriot who fought for this great country in which we now reside.
Our chapter was not founded on money, political gain or favoritism but on patriotism and a deep love of country. It is based on the principles of strong faith, moral values and the belief that we as women can indeed make a difference in our lives both at home and abroad.
The John Clarke Chapter, NSDAR was founded during a time of great progress in the city of Social Circle. Inaugural members such as the Knox women came from an educational background and served as teachers. The Upshaw family built beautiful homes here on the highway, and today those homes graciously stand as a legacy, welcoming guests to our little town. The Wiley family greeted customers and friends at Wiley’s General Store. Mrs. Georgia Adams Godwin had a long record of service to the community and state, as did Mrs. Allene Cook Dally. Together these women formed the backbone of Social Circle and served her well.
The chapter continued their good works through the decades and recorded the chapter’s history in numerous volumes. Today we are able to read about our legacy thanks to their meticulously kept records.
In the early ’20s and ’30s, times were hard in the small farming community. The members of the John Clarke Chapter generously shared their time and financial resources. In the spirit of the objectives of the chapter, these ladies donated thousands of dollars over the years to scholarships and schools for less fortunate young girls and boys. Members hoped that by donating to education, these children would grow up with a sense of pride and ownership. Young women were given a chance to further their education at Berry College, often unheard of in those days. Although a small chapter, chapter members dug deep into their pocketbooks and gave generously every year, continuing to give to the education of America’s young people.
In 1941, America again entered into a Great World War. The John Clarke Daughters never slowed down. Countless volunteer hours were shared with the American Red Cross. These ladies continued to serve God, Home, and Country through preparation and teaching in our county. Members provided classes about conservation, victory gardens, and community preparedness. Their efforts answered the call to help make Georgia and our nation become self-sustaining in turbulent times.
Our chapter remains very proud of her links to our ancestors. In 1982, through the efforts of our historian, Regina Rapier, the grave of John Gresham, Sr. was discovered. The chapter marked the grave in a meaningful, patriotic ceremony befitting this hero of our county and nation and continues with the upkeep today.
Patriots, trappers, and people with dreams often traveled the Hightower Trail in the early growth of Social Circle. The trail was the main thoroughfare from the Savannah low country into the upstate and Cherokee lands of North Georgia. Our daughters, recognizing the importance of the trail, established a historical marker for the trail in downtown. Again, a beautiful ceremony marked the occasion. The marker stands as a testament to future generations of explorers, stating that here in our small town your journey may begin.
Over the years, the women in the chapter have worked to place patriotism and love of country at the forefront. Many children in our local schools have received the Good Citizenship Medal throughout the years as well as scholarship monies. A sense of pride and duty has been fostered in our young JROTC men and women when they are chosen as the recipients of the JROTC Medal of Honor.
In 2001, terrorists struck at the heart of our country. Every American felt and heard the renewed call to serve, just as our ancestors did so long ago. We are honored to have a Blue Star mother among our ranks, Teresa Thompson, and pray for the safety of her son. We are also honored to have a veteran in our ranks, Diane Goga, who served in the United States Air Force. As a response to the attacks, our chapter raised a flag in memory of those brave patriots who perished in the attacks on the Twin Towers, and the flag proudly waves over our police and firefighters as they go about their daily lives, giving selflessly for our protection.
In 2017, we continued the legacy. In honor of the John Clarke Chapter Centennial, the chapter raised monies to once again raise an American flag. Through fundraisers, donations from our community, and the generous support of our local American Legion Post 332, we raised a flag over City Hall in April 2017. Our beloved regent, Mary Lynne Gibbs Reinagel, as a Social Circle fifth grader, won the DAR essay contest. Another formative event in her high school life was attending the American Legion Girls State program. Her sense of pride and duty fostered then brought us to this place in our chapter’s history. Mrs. Reinagel had the honor of raising the flag for the first time over our City Hall.
This act secured our place in history, and in the future. We hope the people of Social Circle, Walton County, and the State of Georgia know the daughters of the John Clarke Chapter, NSDAR are strong in faith. We remain patriotic and fiercely devoted to our country and our ancestry. We have hope for the future of America. God bless America and the women of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.