July 4th Landmark Park

Elizabeth and Alex Hatanaka and 18-month-old Evelyn hold American flags and listen to a public reading of the Declaration of Independence Thursday at Landmark Park. Three-year-old son Viktor is present. Evelyn's father, Bill Smart, is in the background. The family recently moved to the Wiregrass from Utah.

His name was Peter Faust. He fought and died in the American Revolution.

Before that, he fathered children who had children. Part of his line includes Olivia McDaniel, who serves as the Regent for the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

She wore his name Thursday. She dressed in period wear and celebrated the nation’s birthday at Landmark Park by participating in a public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

A handful of residents braved heat, humidity and a swarm of patriotic gnats for the first July 4th partnership between the Daughters of the American Revolution and Landmark Park. Organizers hope the event will grow each year.

Following the public reading, those attending stayed for refreshments, crafts and period games, including “hoop and stick” in which children try to keep a hoop rolling for as long as possible with nothing more than the aid of a stick.

The focus of the day, however, was on the American Revolution. DAR Vice Regent Jessica Gautney can trace her lineage back to John Tudor, who came to the colonies from Wales and fought for the Americans. Her father owns a rifle used in the Revolutionary War.

Gautney was involved in the DAR in Boonesboro, Kentucky, before moving south about three years ago and joining the local chapter. She believes the country is becoming less patriotic as it gets older.

“I think events like this are important so we remember,” she said. “It’s certainly interesting to see what your heritage is.”

McDaniel and Gautney said they were filled with a sense of pride when they first learned they descended from a Revolutionary War soldier.

The reading of the Declaration of Independence was conducted by Dothan resident Ansley Whatley, who can trace his lineage back to Revolutionary War soldier Michael Whatley.

The DAR boasts 185,000 members in about 3,000 chapters. It was founded in 1890.

The local Emassee-Robert Grierson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is looking for members. It is open to any woman 18 years or older who can trace her lineage back to someone who either fought or provided support services during the American Revolution. For more information, visit dar.org and click “membership inquiries” under the Emassee-Robert Grierson chapter.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Follow Lance Griffin on Twitter @EagleLance

Recommended for you

Load comments