Early History of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Chapter NSDAR

Laura Ingalls Wilder Chapter NSDAR was organized October 10, 1986, under the leadership of Ailene (Harlan) Luckhurst as organizing regent. The rich history of our chapter is told by organizing member and Honorary Chapter Regent Bonnie Lein: “My grandmother, mother and aunt, had originally been members of the Aberdeen DAR chapter which disbanded. I joined them when they then transferred to the Huron DAR chapter. After this chapter also disbanded, my mother decided to forge a new chapter of Daughters in her hometown of Clark, South Dakota. With ladies from the Watertown, South Dakota area, their first meeting was held in the old REA (Rural Electric Association) meeting room in Watertown. As it would happen, my daughter’s wedding fell on the exact same day but I promised my mother I would be there to sign the organizing paperwork. In the hectic activities of mother-of-the-bride, I did not make it to the organizing meeting but my mother, determined, brought the papers to the church basement so I could sign, returned to finish the meeting, and made it back to the church in time to be seated as grandmother of the bride.”

The first chapter meetings were held in the tiny café portion of the gas station at the junction of South Dakota State Highway 20 and United States Highway 212 between Watertown, and Clark, South Dakota. Later, meetings were held one month in Clark and the next in Watertown, with one meeting per year in Clear Lake.  In the second year, the members were hostesses for the state DAR convention in Aberdeen which was a huge undertaking for the new little chapter. Their annual project became the “Good Citizens Tea” held each spring. Members also organized the American History Essay Contest at the Watertown Library. Their fund-raising project for many years was a “Bake-less Bake Sale.”

 In choosing the chapter name, the founders sought to perpetuate the memory of local author Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House children’s book series. In 1879, Laura Ingalls and her family moved from their home in Walnut Grove, Minnesota to Dakota Territory as Laura’s father, Charles, was offered a job as timekeeper and paymaster for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad. The family spent their first winter in the Surveyor’s House as Laura describes in her fifth book, By the Shores of Silver Lake. “Pa” later bought his homestead southeast of DeSmet, South Dakota. Chapter Daughters are proud to perpetuate the memory of this amazing daughter of the prairie.

Past Regents Laura Ingalls Wilder Chapter NSDAR

1986—1991  Ailene (Harlan) Luckhurst 
1991—1997  Mary (Orville) Anderson         
1997—2003  Dorothy (Lee) Fuller 
2003—2009  Bonnie (Dick) Lien 
2009—2012  Ramona Moe (Jerome) Ustrud 
2012—2017  Bonnie (Dick) Lien