Ezra Parker Chapter, NSDAR

History

On November 15, 1927, a group of Royal Oak women met at Lone Pine Inn and formally organized a new DAR chapter. Mrs. James H. McDonald, who sponsored the chapter, had worked untiringly to make this happen.

The chapter was named for Ezra Parker who participated in the conflict at Lexington and in the battle of Bunker Hill. After declining a commission, he fought as a sergeant in the Battles of Bennington, Bemis Heights, and Saratoga. In 1835 he moved with his son William to Royal Oak, Michigan, and settled in the area that is now Woodward Avenue and Thirteen Mile Road. On July 15, 1928, the chapter dedicated a bronze marker in his honor at his grave in the Royal Oak Cemetery in Royal Oak, Michigan.

The marker for Private Elijah Drake was also dedicated in Royal Oak Cemetery on July 15, 1928. On October 15, 1939, Hannah Wentworth Chase’s grave marker was dedicated in Royal Oak Cemetery. Hannah was the daughter of American Revolutionary War Patriot James Wentworth and Letitia Tilden. On May 5, 1940, the chapter dedicated a bronze marker on the grave of Lydia Gilbert Bull Parker in Royal Oak Cemetery. Lydia was the wife of early Michigan settler William Morse Parker (son of chapter namesake Ezra Parker), the daughter of American Revolutionary War Soldier Asher Bull, and the granddaughter of American Revolutionary War Patriot Aaron Bull.

In 1951, Soldier Walter Blount’s grave was marked with a DAR marker in the Union Corners Cemetery in Troy, Michigan. In 1975, the chapter dedicated grave markers for Private Silas Sprague and Private Samuel Niles in the Crooks Road Cemetery in Troy, Michigan. Chapter member Lois Lance worked for three years to get a new plaque placed on the grave of Lydia Gilbert Bull Parker, and it was dedicated on July 20, 2000. After a good many years of research and collecting documentation, another chapter member’s efforts paid off with the authorization of a grave marker for Abigail Stoddard Drake, wife of chapter Patriot Private Elijah Drake. The chapter celebrated this accomplishment with a grave dedication ceremony on May 19, 2016. Ezra Parker Chapter, NSDAR, decorates these eight graves annually right before Memorial Day with ceremonies at each marker. It is a pilgrimage that chapter members are honored to make.

From the small group of charter members in 1927, membership in the new chapter surged to 89 by the end of 1964, and by 1976 (the U.S. Bicentennial), membership had soared to 168 with 24 chapter Junior members. The chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary on November 15, 1977, with a program by State Regent Bernice Triplett Behr on the “First Ladies of DAR.” The chapter issued gold-covered yearbooks to members and made a movie to commemorate the celebration. The chapter was proud to present organizing member Dorothy Skinner Fleming with her 50-year pin.

Ezra Parker Chapter, NSDAR, donated an Empire sofa to the Michigan Period Room at the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C., during the 1980s. In 2002 the chapter donated a 75th-anniversary booklet and chapter history to the Americana Collection, and in 2003 chapter member Helen Tenhave donated a bible and tea table that had belonged to her American Revolutionary War ancestor, Private William Torrey, to the Americana Room. To celebrate Constitution Day, chapter members gather at the corner of Thirteen Mile Road and Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, near the site of the family farm that once belonged to Ezra Parker, to ring bells with the rest of the nation for Bells Across America. The chapter was excited to accept the Spirit of Royal Oak award from the Royal Oak Historical Society in 2004.

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