Daughters of the American Revolution, started in 1890, became the collective voice of patriotic women frustrated with the lack of an avenue for self-expression. This organization gave women a platform to express powerful and patriotic voices, preserve history and educate the public.
The Anna Warner Bailey chapter in Groton commenced in 1892 with more than 110 members. Abby Day Slocomb was chosen as the first regent. Handpicked by the DAR Connecticut state regent, she had it all: pedigree, local history and was known as a tenacious and determined individual. She initially declined but when asked again accepted, writing in her logbook, "I had a patriotic obligation and when I was asked again, I picked it up.”
The group undertook tasks such as preservation of all local pertinent historical objects and ephemera and secured the Fort Griswold building, which served as a DAR meeting house and museum. But, the true grit of our local DAR chapter lies within the story of our state flag.
With a meeting place and museum in order, DAR wanted a state flag to hang within. As none existed other than an unofficial colonial military flag, in 1984 Slocomb wrote and sent a statement off to the General Assembly of Connecticut: “There has never been any one of the distinctive flags born by the colonial troop in Connecticut in the revolutionary war or in any of the areas in which the troops of this colony have been engaged by your honorable predecessors as the flag of the state of Connecticut”
In short, she wanted a state flag and flanked by her DAR women and political allies, Slocomb set a plan in motion to design the state flag (at that time called a memorial). In 1895, a joint house resolution was passed to adopt a state flag and Slocomb produced two designs inspired in part by the original 1639 Connecticut seal.
Slocumb, determined to secure this project, met with much resistance. The Merriam Post, Grand Army Republic petitioned the prospect of a state flag in favor of the military flag. John James Goodwin, Sons of the American Revolution and President of the Society of Colonial Wars, submitted two designs of his own.
“The public and press received Goodwin’s designs without criticism,” says Alice Sheriff, member of Fort Trumbull Management Unit assigned to archive historical state flag documents. She continues, "(Slocomb) was undermined by the Hartford Courant, which published only Goodwin’s designs.”
Goodwin rebuked the DAR design saying the Rococo was too fanciful and not a legitimate representation of New England. Sheriff adds that he even contacted the chapter to offer what Slocomb considered to be underhanded alternative color suggestions evident in her handwritten remark on their correspondence calling him a ”Serpent”.
In 1897, after “two years of pegging away,” as Slocomb describes it, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Groton chapter was awarded the State flag design. The final design included the Rococo shield containing three supported fruit bearing grapevines representing the three colonies: New Haven, Saybrook, and Connecticut. Written below was“Qui Transtulit Sustinet” which translates as - He Who Transplanted Still Sustains.
Both flags designed by DAR now hang within the Fort Griswold Museum, one original and one replica. And more than 110 years later, the proud DAR Anna Warner Bailey Chapter still meets on the second Thursday of every month, surrounded by history they have so ardently fought for and preserved.