Chapter History

The picturesque and romantic atmosphere which clings to the Ancient City, blending the gay colors of the three flags with the grayness of the walls of Fort San Marco, hovered over the genesis of its chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  The story breathes of lavender and old lace and of history alive, for it was the great granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson, a lady of the old school, who first sent delicately penned notes to some of her friends in St. Augustine, inviting them to her home for the purpose of forming a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

She was Maria Jefferson Epps Shine, the wife of Dr. William F. Shine, a resident of St. Augustine.  Her grandmother was Maria Jefferson, daughter of the third President of the United States. Maria was born August 1, 1778, known then simply as Mary Jefferson.  While her father was Minister to France, he sent for his motherless daughters to come to Paris.  Mary was eight years old and was placed in a convent there, her name being changed to "Maria."  She married John Wales Epps of Eppington, Virginia.  Dying while young, Maria Jefferson Epps was survived by one son, Francis, who was the father of the founder of this chapter.  The story of Maria Jefferson was gleaned from the pages of the letters of Thomas Jefferson, which are preserved in a book belonging to his descendants.

Mrs. Shine's mother, Susan Margaret Ware, was also a descendant of colonial patriots.  One of her grandfathers was Col. Thomas Carr, a Revolutionary War soldier, and another was Francis Beacon, who performed a heroic deed in 1776 by carrying important dispatches from General Clark in Georgia to General Greene in South Carolina, swimming the Savannah River on horseback and crossing the company's line.  The Maria Jefferson Chapter may well be proud of the ancestry of their founder.

Mrs. Shine was appointed organizing regent by the State Regent, Mrs. D. G. Ambler, and her appointment was confirmed by the National Board, on May 7, 1896.  The enthusiastic group set to work to prove their descent from Revolutionary War soldiers, a task much simpler in those days than it is today.

Before the organization was completed, however, Mrs. Shine's failing health took her away from St. Augustine, and she died with a dream of her charter unfulfilled.  With the loss of her guiding personality there was a temporary lack of interest, but it was revived and fostered by the other interested ladies.

Mrs. Anna S. Woodruff was asked to organize the chapter in Mrs. Shine's place, and was appointed and confirmed as organizing regent on February 3, 1898.  A charter was granted March 26, 1898, the number being 408.  The names on the charter are as follows:  Mrs. Anna S. Woodruff, Regent; Mrs. John T. Dismukes, Vice Regent; Miss Julie Dismukes, Secretary; Miss E. W. Gailliard, Treasurer; Mrs. E. P. Sampson, Registrar; Mrs. R. C. Gailliard, Mrs. James P. Dodge, Mrs. S.S. Hubble, Miss Emma Wescott, Miss  P. E. M. Bainbridge, Miss Anne E. Everett, Miss E. A.  Everett, Miss M. E. Alexander, Mrs. George W. Gibbs, and Miss E. X. Epps. 

The names on the charter roll present at a glance the settled character of the city in that day.  It was an oasis in a sunny but uninhabited state.  Its barracks and its facilities for entertaining guests from the North made the city a Mecca for charming cultured winter visitors who have from the very first enriched the character of St. Augustine's population and who later made cosmopolitan the air of all Florida's cities.  Maria Jefferson Chapter was the second chapter in the state of Florida. Today many Florida Daughters who work together in DAR owe their heritage to humble beginnings of small groups such as this one.

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