The D.A.R.’s Last “Real Daughter” Died in 1943, 160 Years After The Conclusion of the American Revolution
You may think that the Daughters of the American Revolution is a moribund organization that no one cares about anymore.
If that is the popular perception, then of course we at Stuff Nobody Cares About would care.
I had given the Daughters of the American Revolution as much thought as the nocturnal habits of the ocelot. That is until I ran across a 1925 article about Mrs. Louisa Capron Thiers who was celebrating her 111th birthday. Besides reaching an incredible age, Thiers was the daughter of a participant in the Revolutionary War making her an actual daughter and member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has had over one million members since its inception in 1890. Currently there are 185,000 members.
The DAR is a volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism and preserving American history. Membership is open to any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background. There is just one requirement which you cannot buy or barter. You have to prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.
When the DAR started there were hundreds of “Real” Daughters of participants in the Revolution. Around 1895 the DAR set up a committee to locate and corroborate all the women who were Real Daughters. Many of the Real Daughters recollections were eventually collected by the organization, chronicled and set in print.
So when Louisa Thiers (b. 1814) passed away in Milwaukee, WI on February 17, 1926, there was no mention in her obituary if she was the last surviving Real Daughter of the American Revolution.
The Revolution ended September 3, 1783. Let’s say a Revolutionary soldier who was twenty-years-old when the war ended had a child forty years later when he was sixty. How many child born in 1823 would live into the early twentieth century? Realistically not many daughters of Revolution soldiers could be alive in 1926? Louisa Thiers had to be the last one, right?
After Thiers death, at least 16 Real Daughters were still living. As late as 1931 there were still seven Real Daughters alive.
Annie Knight Gregory was the daughter of Revolutionary War soldier Richard Knight. When Richard Knight entered the Revolution along with his own father, he was just 11-years-old in 1778.
Annie Knight Gregory was born March 23, 1843 in Liverpool, PA. At the time of her birth her father was 66-years-old and was married to his third wife. Richard Knight died in January 1850 when Annie was six-years-old. She remembered her father as a tall man with curly hair and of dignified military bearing. When Mrs, Gregory joined the DAR on November 4, 1897 she was the youngest Real Daughter.
From Youngest to Last
On the occasion of Annie’s 100th birthday Mrs. Gregory received greetings from President Franklin D Roosevelt. In the midst of World War II Mrs. Gregory said she was proud of the opportunity to buy a war bond, “It will be my investment in the future of my great-grandchildren, just as my father and grandfather invested in the America we enjoy and defend today.” Annie Knight Gregory died a few months later December 17, 1943, the last Real Daughter of the American Revolution.
So what is so special about that longevity? The overlap in her father’s life and her own spanned 177 years.
The DAR website effectively summarizes how mind-blowing the Real Daughters connection is:
The Real Daughters are not only fascinating for living long lives through the beginning years of our country or because of their Revolutionary fathers, but because they also encourage an understanding of the youth and originality of the United States. The knowledge that the combined life spans of a father and daughter could reach as far back as the American Revolution and go through the beginning of World War II is remarkable. Ultimately, the Real Daughters were honored by the DAR because they were “living links” and active participants in America’s history.
In an age when history is being revised and obliterated it is important to remember and point out our “Real” history.