Continuing with last month’s theme of Trenton history, I wanted to share with you some projects by local groups who are working to preserve and document the stories that make up the roots of our communities.
I recently met with Nancy Chascsa and Lugene Flores of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. If you are not familiar with the DAR, it is a national group, established in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C.
They are a non-profit, volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children. The group supports veterans’ affairs, provides scholarships and even runs charter schools.
The local chapter of the DAR is the Monguagon Chapter, established in 1993. This chapter encompasses all 18 Downriver communities. They work to donate to veterans organizations, provide scholarships through a writing contest and do other community projects. They also clean and place flags on veteran’s graves at Oakwood cemetery in Wyandotte. There are currently 55 members, according to Flores, who meet the second Saturday of the month.
The group is working diligently to replace the marker for the War of 1812 Battle of Monguagon. This was the first battle of that war, between American forces and the Canadian, British and Native American fighters on August 9, 1812, and was the only battle won in Michigan by the Americans. The site, located at Elizabeth Park, was at the time the Wyandot tribe village of Maguaga. The Battle of Monguagon marker was originally placed in 1962 by the State of Michigan at Elizabeth Park, visible from West Jefferson near the Grosse Ile free bridge.
Chascsa explains that because the marker is owned by the state, is located at a Wayne County park, and sits within the city of Trenton, the responsibility has become a group effort.
The marker has been removed and will be replaced by a brand new marker, paid for by the State of Michigan. The city of Trenton is footing the bill for the removal and replacement of the marker, and Wayne County has leveled the overgrown shrubs and prepared the area. The Monguagon DAR has taken on the responsibility to re-landscape and maintain the area.
The group did not receive a matching-funds grant from the National DAR that they were hoping for, so to help with this effort, the group is raising funds and looking for volunteers to help with the landscaping.
They want to plant native plants that are drought-tolerant and won’t become overgrown, according to Chascsa. The group also hopes to have a small dedication ceremony and reception Aug. 9, the anniversary date of the battle.
The local Monguagon chapter took this project on in part because they are named after Monguagon, and because this year is the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.
“This is the biggest project we have taken on,” said Flores. The group is hoping to inspire community interest in the preservation of the marker.
If you would like to donate, checks should be made out to Monguagon Chapter, NSDAR and mailed to P.O. Box 834, Allen Park, MI 48101. Donations are tax-deductible. To contact Nancy Chascsa for more information on how to help, or information on joining the DAR, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Lugene Flores at email@example.com.
To become a member of the DAR, you must be able to prove your direct lineage to anyone who supported the American Revolution, Chascsa explained. The DAR can help people determine this by helping to trace genealogy.
The Trenton Historical Society also has several exciting events in the works. Chairperson of the group Carol Hendricks told me about some of the interesting projects under way:
A book signing by the authors of the book “Coney Detroit,” which tells the story of the history of the Coney Dog in the area, as well as the Greek families who made the American and Lafayette Coney Island restaurants famous, will be held at Mom’s Restaurant, 2691 Fort St., at 7 p.m. Aug. 27. Come and have a Coney Dog while meeting the authors and pick up a copy of the book. Gus and Sia Dimopoulis, the owners of Mom’s Restaurant are Greek and know a lot about the history of Greek emigration to the area, according to Hendricks. Sounds like an interesting (and delicious) evening!
The Society again will have a booth at the Trenton Mid-Summer Festival, where you can pre-order the new book, “Images of America: Trenton, MI,” which will be printed at the end of September. Also for sale will be the book “Snug Harbor,” written by Lucy Shirmer, who was a longtime resident of Trenton, as well as the book “Dear Sarah,” a collection of letters written by James Pardington, a Civil War soldier from Trenton, to his wife Sarah, during the war.
The current and past years’ Historical Calendars will also be available.
The Historical Society has been working with Trenton Public Schools to make Trenton history a part of the district’s curriculum. I will have more information on that project as it progresses.
For further information on the Trenton Historical Society, please see the organization’s Website at www.trentonhistoricalsociety.org, or contact Carol Hendricks directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (734) 676-4375.
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