Honoring History, Today

By Wende Schneyer

On November 17, 1936, a group of 18 patriotic ladies gathered at the Kernersville home of Maude Kerner Ring and organized a new North Carolina chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). They named the chapter the Joseph Kerner Chapter in honor of the founder of Kernersville. So much has changed over the last 87 years, but the DAR mission of Historic Preservation, Patriotism, and Education has held strong amongst its members. It is a non-profit, non-political, volunteer women’s service organization that any woman, 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership. The Joseph Kerner Chapter  members are of all ages and range from “locals” to those who previously called other states home. Members are vibrant, active women who are united by their patriotism, love for country, and the opportunity to make a difference in their community, their state, and the country.

One of the earliest documented Joseph Kerner Chapter projects was a marker they placed in 1941 honoring a 14-year-old Revolutionary War bugler named James Gillies, who was murdered by British Dragoons along present day Highway 150 in Summerfield. The marker was recently restored by the Summerfield Historic Committee and the Joseph Kerner Chapter  will be hosting a re-dedication on February 11, 2024, on the anniversary of the young Bugler’s death. 

In 2020, the Joseph Kerner Chapter  sponsored a DAR Historic Preservation Grant of $10,000 for the restoration of the porch of the circa-1870’s weaning cabin located in the Historic Village on the Kernersville Museum property. This DAR program invites any public 501(c)(3) organization to apply for matching fund grants to support historic preservation projects. 

In 2021, the chapter brought the Wreaths Across America program back to Kernersville with a full ceremony honoring local veterans and wreath placement for veterans at Pine Grove Methodist Cemetery. This year, through a partnership with Kernersville VFW Post 5352, the historic St. Paul’s AME Methodist Cemetery, Mount Gur Cemetery, and Eastlawn Gardens of Memory have been added as Wreaths Across America locations increasing the goal this year to honor over 300 local veterans. This year’s Wreaths Across America Day Ceremony will be held on December 16, 2023, at 12:00pm at Pine Grove Methodist Cemetery. Wreath placement opportunities will be available for local groups and organizations at Mount Gur and Eastlawn Gardens. A closing candlelight ceremony will be held at Kernersville VFW Post 5253 at 5:30pm that evening, followed by a remembrance dinner. If you would like to help by sponsoring a wreath that will be placed on a Kernersville veteran’s grave to honor their service and sacrifice, please visit www.WeathsAcrossAmerica.org/NC0437P or email us at JosephKernerDAR@zoho.com. 

Other chapter sponsored veterans’ programs include the Valentines for Veterans drive through breakfast held in partnership with Pierce Jefferson on February 14, Honor Quilt presentations, and Vietnam Veterans Pinning Ceremonies. We are a sponsor of the Triad Honor Flight and our members volunteer at community Honor Flight fundraisers and have served as Flight Guardians. This year, on November 11 we honored the veterans interred at the historic St. Paul’s AME Cemetery with a special Veterans Day Wreath Laying Ceremony. 

The Joseph Kerner Chapter  supports Kernersville students through annual teacher grant opportunities, 5th Grade Essay Contests, Good Citizens Awards, recognition of outstanding JROTC and CAP cadets, and Youth Citizenship Awards to 5th and 8th graders. We also support the children of the Crossnore Community for Children in Winston Salem (formerly the NC Children’s Home) through monetary and school supply donations.  In addition to these local programs, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution awards multiple scholarships to students showing dedication to the pursuit of higher education in diverse areas of study including history, economics, law, political science, medicine, nursing, occupational and physical therapy, elementary and secondary education, chemistry, math, science, and English. 

The Joseph Kerner Chapter takes great pride in providing American Flags for community programs such as Miss Mary’s Childrens Parade and various community Flag Day events. Constitution Week is promoted annually by securing mayoral proclamations, and with displays in the Paddison Memorial and Walkertown libraries. Every October, for the Daughters of the American Revolution Day of Service, they honor the Kernersville community first responders by providing goodie baskets for the Fire and the Police Departments. We also work with the Kernersville Historic Preservation Society for clean-up days and tombstone cleaning at the historic St. Paul’s AME Cemetery. 

Chapter meetings are usually held at 2:00pm on the third Saturday of the month from September through May. For more information on membership, attending a meeting, or on anything mentioned in this article please email JosephKernerDAR@zoho.com or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JosephKernerDAR

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