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Daughters of the American Revolution get hands-on look at history

The study of insects is his vocation, but armed women were the topic of his speech. Dr. Tim Drake, an entomologist at Clemson University, was the keynote speaker at the October meeting of the Captain John Wilson Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution last week at the Thomson-McDuffie Library.

"It was really fascinating," Virginia White said after the meeting. "I'm really sorry more people couldn't come hear it."

Dr. Drake talked about the importance of women in the American Revolution.

"We have a lot of very, very strong women in the Revolutionary War era. ... They served as unofficial spies. ... They passed notes along. ... Many were actively engaged in battle," he said.

During his speech, Dr. Drake touched on Nancy Hart, the famous Georgia Patriot, whom he said "was a very spunky lady."

But most of his speech was devoted to Carolina Patriot Ann Kennedy Hamilton. Dr. Drake said he became familiar with her story through disassembling her house and interviewing her descendents.

Not only did Mrs. Hamilton save her house from being ravaged and burned by a band of Tory militia, but she eavesdropped outside their tents and then forewarned Patriot General Daniel Morgan at Hannah's Cowpens of their arrival.

"She went two days before the battle of Cowpens," Dr. Drake said. "That battle was the major turning point of the war in the South."

When the last owners of Mrs. Hamilton's dilapidated house wanted to bulldoze and burn it, Dr. Drake said he couldn't bear the thought.

"I dismantled the home piece by piece," he said. "I'd like to rebuild it... and restore it into a museum when I get the funds."

While taking apart the 60,000 pieces, Dr. Drake uncovered "a wealth of artifacts." He brought a few to the meeting for show-and-tell, including clothing, shoes, dishes, a patch box, a document box containing newspapers dated 1815, a padlock, snuff box, whale oil canister, Betty lamp, rawhide riding crop, skeins of spun cotton and yarn bobbins.

"Just touching these things is kind of neat to me because they are a direct link to the American Revolution," Dr. Drake said.

The professor also passed around several items for the 18 ladies in attendance to examine up close, including silver shoe buckles he said were worn by Paul Revere.

"It was really a hands-on representation of history," Marguerite Fogleman said. "I don't know if I've ever seen anybody who has taken a house apart like that before.

The DAR is one of the world's largest and most active service organizations that promotes patriotism, preserves American history and supports better education for children. Its members are descended from the patriots who fought in the American Revolution.

Web posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007

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