Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Women of the United Daughters of the Confederacy celebrated the 100th year anniversary of the local area chapter in Portales on Friday.
The chapter is comprised of women from eastern New Mexico. The members who met on Friday to celebrate the 100 years of the local chapter traveled from Ruidoso, Portales, Clovis and Roswell.
“It’s a moment of great pride and honor to be a member and to honor my ancestry,” Jane Hilliard of Portales said. “We don’t take part in the political aspect of it (the Civil War). We’re not trying to rewrite the war. We are simply searching for the history.”
Janelle Foster, president of the chapter, reiterated that the chapter members do not participate in the political aspect of the war.
The chapter was named the United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter in 1906 then it was renamed to the Ellen W. Jones United Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of the founder on July 20, 1920.
Hilliard has the longest membership of the local chapter. She has been a member since 1956.
Hilliard said one of her fondest memories is when she was a child and visited the Jones household in Portales.
“Mrs. Jones stored memorabilia in a trunk,” Hilliard said. “I always wanted to open it. My mother and aunt said, ‘Don’t you do it’. But she (Jones) would show the family memorabilia to us anyways.”
Hilliard said she was a chapter member when a committee from the United Daughters of the Confederacy put together a salute to the New Mexico flag. Members wrote the salute which is recited today. Chapter members presented the salute to legislators and they approved it unanimously. The salute was created in 1962, 50 years after statehood.
The women have meetings throughout the year and attend national conventions in the fall. Last year’s convention was in San Diego, Calif. The local chapter has 30-35 members who attend the meetings from New Mexico. There are three chapters in New Mexico, the other two are in Las Cruces and Albuquerque.
“We have many dedicated women who are active in the community,” Hilliard said.
Over the course of the chapter’s history, members have helped with the American Red Cross work, provided collegiate scholarships and donated money to the Norman V. Randolph Relief Fund, which assisted widows of Confederate Veterans and to the veteran’s hospitals.
Hilliard said those who are interested in becoming members have to show proof that a relative fought in the war. Birth certificates, wills and service records are some of the items people need to take to the local chapter. The information is researched and also sent to the main office in Richmond, Va. for confirmation.
Membership is open to women no less than 16 years of age who are blood descendants of men and women who served honorably in the Army, Navy or civil service of the Confederate States of America.
Laura Nelson of Roswell sang “A Perfect Day” by Carrie Jacobs-Bond to celebrate the occasion on Friday. Nelson said her grandfather, Martin Van Buren Corn, fought in Texas for the south in the Civil War.
Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega handed the members a certificate proclaiming Friday as “Daughters of the Confederacy Day”.