National Organization History
On May 30, 1885 in Massillon, Ohio five young women watched as their fathers and brothers laid wreaths and strewed flowers on the graves of men who had died during one of this Nation’s greatest conflict. They too were determined to honor these men and decided to meet to discuss what they could do. They held their first meeting on June 3, 1885 at the home of Eva Merwin. In attendance were Olive Howald, Harriet Knapp, Frank (Frances) Merwin and Bertha Martin.
Subsequent meetings were held on June 10th and 20th. On the 20th fourteen young women took the obligation, the ritual improvised from the “National Alliance Sons of Veterans of the United States of America,” today’s Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. The obligation was given by James N. Merwin of the Sons. (James was Eva Merwin’s brother and the future husband of Harriet Knapp.) These fourteen young women were May Bowman, Mattie Brannan, Olive Howald, Mame Huber, Minnie King, Harriet Knapp, Bertha Martin, Amy Elizabeth Merrill, Bertha Merwin, Eva Merwin, Frank Merwin, Levo Stevens, Nellie King and Maud Stevens.
The first President was Minnie King, who served from June 1885 to December 1885. The fledgling organization incorporated within six months on December 12, 1885 as the “National Alliance Daughters of Veterans of the United States of America.” The signers of the Original Articles of Incorporation were Minnie F. King, Bertha Martin, Olive Howald, Eva Merwin and Amy Merrill.
The first Massillon tent adopted the name Mrs. Major McKinley Tent 1 on May 8, 1886. Two years passed before the next tent was organized, Mrs. John A. Logan Tent 2, on May 14, 1888 in Alliance, Ohio. By May 1890, eight tents were organized in five states, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, making it possible under the Constitution to call for a National Convention.
The first National Convention was held in Quincy, Illinois on June 25-27, 1890. Twelve delegates traveled from Massillon and Alliance Ohio; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Quincy, Illinois; Keokuk, Iowa and Kearney, Nebraska, representing 194 members. M. Estella McMillan was elected as the first National President.
Though supported by local posts of the Grand Army of the Republic, it was not until September 1900 that the “National Alliance Daughters of Veterans of the United States of America” was endorsed by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) at their 34th Annual Encampment in Chicago, Illinois.
Twenty five years later, in September 1925, the name was changed to the “Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War” at the 35th National Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Another nineteen years passed, and in September 1944, at the 54th National Convention held in Des Moines, Iowa, the name was changed once again by adding the suffix 1861-1865 to the name. Signed by President Ronald Reagan, the “Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865,” Federal Charter was granted by Public Law 99-172, December 9, 1985.
The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865 is one of only five Allied Orders that was recognized by the Grand Army of the Republic. The others are the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Women’s Relief Corps, the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic.
In August 2010, at the 120th National Convention in Springfield, Illinois, the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865 celebrated its 125th anniversary.
The “Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865” (DUVCW) is a not for profit organization formed for the daughters of Union veterans to perpetuate the memories of their ancestral fathers who served in the Civil War, to honor their loyalty and their unselfish sacrifices to preserve the Union, and to keep alive the history of those who participated in that heroic struggle for the maintenance of our free government.
We honor our Veterans through service projects which are of benefit to the public at the local, state and national level. The organization’s objectives are:
- Building and maintaining a Museum of Civil War history, admission to which shall be free and open to the public, in the city of Springfield, Illinois, as a repository of Civil War documents, artifacts, and cultural relics.
- Maintaining a library in connection with the Civil War Museum, admission to which shall be free and open to the public, containing the official volumes of the War of the Rebellion Records, Civil War genealogical files, Adjutant General reports of the various States, military and biographical records and accounts of the individual service of Union Soldiers, Sailors and Marines and members of the Revenue Cutter Service, diaries, letters, relics, and other records.
- Encouraging the preservation of monuments, historic sites, documents, relics, and the records of the individual service of Union Soldiers, Sailors and Marines and members of the Revenue Cutter Service.
- Disseminating and teaching American history, particularly the history of the Civil War period, through the establishment of scholarship programs at the National and State levels, the presentation of American flags to youth groups and newly naturalized citizens, and the sponsorship of contests of educational merit.
- Cherishing, maintaining and extending the institutions of American freedom; to foster true patriotism, love of country, and to aid in securing for mankind all the blessings of liberty.
- Commemorating the deeds of the Union Veterans of the Civil War on May 30 and/or Memorial Day and observing all Patriotic Anniversaries as may be appropriate.
- Caring for veterans of all wars through volunteer programs in Veterans’ Administration medical centers and in homes and other institutions maintained by the States for the welfare of American veterans and providing aid to descendants of Union Veterans of the Civil War and those who are worthy and needy.
- Participating, in a spirit of cooperation and reciprocity, in programs with other societies devoted to American history, veterans’ affairs, or community interests.
We encourage all daughters who descend from one or more Union Veterans to join with us in honoring their ancestors.