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Betsey Hager Chapter
Based in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Meetings are the 3rd Wednesday of every month.

Betsey Hager was born in Boston in 1750 of very poor parents and was left an orphan at nine years of age. As was the custom of the day, she was "bound out" to a farmer nearby. Here she developed into a strong young woman, skilled not only in the household arts but also in the use and construction of tools and machinery, being not only an expert weaver, but able to set up and repair her own loom. Her education included little book learning, but much of the arts of practical life.

At the time of the outbreak of the revolution, she was working for Samuel Leverett, a blacksmith and farmer. For weeks preparation for the war had been going on. Every spare minute Leverett had been at work in a small room adjoining his forge, repairing old matchlocks and muskets with "handy" Betty or Betsey the blacksmith as the faithful helper. Scores of old weapons not used since the old days of Indian wars were thus made serviceable. This work was all done without pay.

At the battle of Concord, Betsey Hager had been one of the first on the scene to care for the wounded. Here she noticed six cannons left by the British and upon examination were sure they could be prepared for use. So they were brought to Leverett's smithy, repaired, and in six weeks were turned over to the American commander.

Besides helping to repair fire arms, Betsey prepared ammunition. Here it is related that on one occasion when she ran out of flannel to wrap the charges, she cut up and used her own underclothing. She was always ready to visit the sick especially among the families of soldiers, becoming skilled in the use of herbs and roots, the “material Medica” of the day.

Shortly, after the war, she was married to John Pratt, one of the Minute Men whose guns she had repaired. In 1816, the Pratts moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. They became prominent and respected members of the community. Mrs. Pratt became especially well known as a doctor. Her heroic life ended at the age of ninety-three. She lies buried at Granville, Pennsylvania, a few miles from her old home. Their descendants are prominent people in northern Pennsylvania.

The important task of organizing Betsy Hager Chapter was officially delegated to Mrs. W. J. Read in December, 1925. On April 20, 1926, in a meeting held at her home, organization was completed with a membership of 21. The chapter was chartered June 8, 1926.

Preceding the formal organization, a luncheon was given for the new members and guests at the Hotel Yancy. After the luncheon the party adjourned to the home of Mrs. Clayton J. Moore, and was called to order by Mrs. W. J. Read, the organizing regent, who introduced the state regent, Mrs. C. S. Paine. Mrs. Paine installed the chapter and officers were elected.

In the first year’s work the keynote for the organization is stuck and precedents formed which determined the course of the future history of the chapter. Among these may be mentioned in particular the following: (1) the printing of excellent year books; (2) the arrangement of interesting programs, almost exclusively along lines mapped out by the Daughters of the American Revolution for national and state work, giving a large place to historical study. Talent is drawn exclusively from the chapter membership, thus securing the interest which comes from individual activity; (3) the placing of sets of genealogical book in the public library from the Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogical Traveling Library; (4) the assumption in full of state and national obligations; (5) the sending of Ellis Island box; (6) contributions to local needs for Christmas cheer, Young Women’s and Young Men’s Christian Associations and Stolley State Park.

In general the formative period of Betsey Hager chapter was marked by seriousness of purpose, high ideals, devotion to the expressed objective of the chapter, a democratic, cordial spirit among the members and a sincere desire to co-operate in the state and national work of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The chapter experienced a rapid growth in membership. Response was made to two national appeals, the flood sufferers through the “friendship gardens”, and restoration of Kenmore.

A handsome walnut gavel and block was presented to the chapter December 18, 1928, by Mrs. G. W. Wiencke, in memory of her father, Dr. H. L. Matthew’s, a Nebraska pioneer and grandson of Gideon Matthews, a revolutionary patriot. The wood was from a tree on the farm where the donor was born. The workmanship was of a boy in the Grand Island high school, Frank Phelps.

The charter members of Betsey Hager chapter are: Henrietta Waird Read, Idella Bollen Atwater, Edna M. Gardner Bastian, Ida Walker Bennison, Blanche Broderick Bottorf, Lydia J. Bradbury, Grace W. Barger Bryan, Henrietta Patten Cousins, Mildred Ione Dewey, Della Showalter Faidley, Hazel Burleigh Hammond, Bertha G. Nye Johnson, Gertrude Lyle Laughlin, Lena Williams Lyle, Evelyn Hartinger Moore, Mary C. Nicholson, Alice Ella Paine, Bertha Patton, Mary Carson Prince, Ruth Kinney Ross, Gwendolyn Kimbrough Seier, Ella M. Sprague, Gladys Wood Steidley, Vernita Barber Vieregg, Patty F. Matthews Wiencke, Wauneta R. Wolcott, Geneva R. Wolford.

In November 1932 the members learned of a grave in the GAR section of the City Cemetery that was possibly a real daughter of a Revolutionary Patriot. After much investigation, it was confirmed that her name was Mary Cather Wood, the daughter of Jasper Cather. She was born at Winchester, WV in 1806, died January 5, 1893. A marker was placed in 1936 on the stone by Betsey Hager Chapter to designate her as a Real Daughter.

The chapter did research work with the WPA on historical points in Howard and Hall Counties. They marked the spot where the Martin boys were pinned together with an Indian arrow.

For membership information, please email Vonna at vonnajackson@yahoo.com