THE FOUNDING OF MELZINGAH CHAPTER
Founding Melzingah Chapter Regent,
Katherine Wolcott Verplanck
Reflecting on the founding of Melzingah Chapter, nearly 40 years after its organization, charter member Anna Dean Kendall recalled that in 1895, times were changing, cities were being electrified, phonographs had come into use, the horseless carriage was being talked about, and even aviation was being considered. "Perhaps," she wrote in the early 1930s, "we feared traditions would be lost forever." And so, she and 11 other women gathered to conduct the first meeting of a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, on November 13, 1895, in Matteawan (now Beacon).
The first order of business was selection of a name. Melzingah was selected as "the most pleasing to the ear and also associated with the old tradition of the place." The chapter's charter was delivered by the New York State Society of the DAR on June 4, 1896, and was presented to our Founding Regent, Katherine Wolcott (later Verplanck), at the Madam Brett Homestead, at that time owned by Madam Brett’s Great Great Great Grand daughter and her family.
Chapter members took an immediate interest in preserving local historic sites. The graves of approximately 50 Revolutionary War soldiers were marked, and impressive monuments were raised at significant Revolutionary War associated sites in southern Dutchess County. Road signs were erected to denote locations of colonial interest.
One of the most prominent of Melzingah's monuments is the tall stone "beacon" dedicated July 4, 1900, atop Mount Beacon. It was dedicated to the men who were stationed atop the mountain during the American Revolution to maintain a series of signal fires. To this day, it serves as a reminder of their valor and as a symbol for the city that chose the name "Beacon" in recognition of the site's significance.