Rosalind Ewing Martin Receives Woman In American History Award

Sunday, March 24, 2019 - by Susan V. Lindsey

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution approved the nomination by the Judge David Campbell Chapter the Woman in American History award to the late Rosalind Ewing Martin.   

According to the NSDAR website, the Women in American History award is given to a woman past and present with an emphasis of Women in American History.  

The Judge David Campbell Chapter nominated Rosalind Ewing Martin as she was the chapter's past chapter regent and state regent.

Rosalind Ewing was born on July 28, 1894, to Henry Overton and Minnie Chamberlain Ewing of Lookout Mountain. In 1918, and prior to their marriage, Cyrus Martin served in Company “B” 321st Machine Gun Battalion, Detachment, 82nd Division, as a 2nd Lieutenant. She married Cyrus Griffin Martin in 1925 when they were both 30. 

Mrs. Martin’s initial endeavor in volunteerism began with the chartering of the Chattanooga Chapter of the American Red Cross on June 2, 1917, into which she became immediately involved. Her main job during WWI was to staff the Railroad Canteen. She also rolled yards and yards of bandages and surgical dressing which went to Washington, D.C. for inspection before being sent overseas.

Another duty as a Red Cross volunteer was to watch the procession of soldiers escorting their comrades who died of the flu at Fort Oglethorpe to the train station. The Red Cross volunteers could hear the dirge of the funeral march as soldiers escorted the corpses to the train station. A short service was held before loading the body on the train. As the soldiers left to march back to Georgia, she recalled that the band would strike up a ragtime tune to lift the returning soldier’s spirits. The epidemic was so bad that the undertaker had to call in help and so the Red Cross took on the task of providing food to the funeral workers to keep them going. 

Mrs. Martin joined DAR on Oct. 17, 1918 and her national number was 141726. The following year she was a delegate to Continental Congress for the Judge David Campbell Chapter.

During her lifetime, Mrs. Martin served as chapter regent for five terms, each of which were single-year terms, covering the years of 1921-1925. Her final regency was 42 years later in 1967-68, again a single year term. Mrs. Martin was elected as TN state vice regent in 1945 but, in 1946 assumed the duties of state regent, completing the term of Mrs. Albert Lyons Craig, who died of acute cardiac failure during an operation on July 30, 1946. In Mrs. Martin’s report to the state conference that fall, she states, “In many ways this is a most unusual administration, because first we are working under wartime restriction, second that perhaps I am the first regent, and I sincerely hope the only regent who will serve the second year without election but ruling of the National Society.” (History of the Tennessee Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1990)

While state regent, and attending Continental Conference, she held an all day, informal reception in the Tennessee Room where the portrait of Andrew Jackson by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl hung. This portrait, a gift of Mrs. Martin in February 1941, still graces the wall of the Tennessee State Room. 

During her regency from 1921-1925 of the Judge David Campbell Chapter she presented the DAR Library a copy Goodspeed’s History of East Tennessee, published in 1887, which contained the histories of 30 counties. In 1923, Miss Ewing headed the effort to pack boxes for immigrant women at Ellis Island. The boxes were filled with items such as material for sewing, needles, silk and wool for knitting and crocheting. These boxes were to be used to teach so that the women at Ellis Island could pass the hours while waiting at the immigration port for the privilege of entering the United States. (Chapter minutes, October 12, 1923.)

A series of newspaper articles from May to June, 1924, chronicles the chapter’s quest to place a bronze marker on the grave of Judge David Campbell. Although the chapter located and planned to mark the grave of Judge (Major) David Campbell in Rhea County during her term, the marking did not occur until July 4, 1925. In 1926, the chapter recognized the need for the out-of-publication Ramsay’s Annul to be reprinted. Mrs. Martin was placed in charge of the arranging the reprint and within one month the decision to proceed was made. This was mainly due to the ‘full report’ provided by Mrs. Martin. A budget was set for $25 to be spent on circulars and advertising. Fifteen hundred copies were ordered and, although, initial sales were strong with orders being received daily and over 600 books sold during the first year, when the Great Depression hit, sales waned. It would take until 1941 for the chapter to break even with sales of 1,000 books.

During the intervening years of 1929 to 1935, she served on various committees and as delegate to both the state convention and Continental Congress. She served on numerous chapter committees. Because of her love for the library, having given numerous books to the Chattanooga Library, local school libraries, and the DAR Library, was bestowed the honorary title of Librarian for Life by the chapter. 

In 1939, Mrs. Martin served as hostess at the luncheon for the Judge David Campbell chapter meeting. In 1940, the four Chattanooga chapters of the DAR endorsed Mrs. Martin for candidacy as state regent. However at the election, Mrs. William Lambert was elected as state regent. 
With the war just around the corner, Mrs. Martin’s volunteerism did not stop with the DAR. At the February 1941 meeting, Mrs. Martin made a plea for Bundles for Britain. These were donations to the Mother’s Kitchen, yarn for knitting, and articles of children’s clothes. The treasurer’s report from March 13 to April 10, 1941 shows distributions to be $10 and chapter donations of $36 for the Bundles for Britain fund.  Mrs. Martin offered a plea for furnishing for the soldier’s center to include tables, floor lamps, ash trays, pictures, mirrors, books, magazine and out-of-town newspapers. She also asked for donations for the recreational room for the Army post in Ft. Oglethorpe. At this time she was serving as a representative of both the chapter and on the American Legion’s Auxiliary for the meeting to consider plans for the recreational room.

In October 1941, a news article Speaking of Knitting - Mrs. Martin Does 196 Sweaters in Less Than a Year, covered her remarkable service in defense activity for the Red Cross at the beginning of World War II. Her prowess in knitting was commended. During that year she produced 12 pairs of socks, 18 caps and 19 pairs of mittens, in addition to the sweaters. She said that it was not done in single sittings but by carrying her knitting everywhere she went and doing a few stitches now and then. That fall, in October, Mrs. Martin was elected to head the Cookie Project which kept two cookie jars filled for soldiers at the Service Men’s Club in the Memorial Auditorium. This project was the effort of patriotic groups, including the local DAR chapters, which shared the responsibility of filling the jars. Over the next four years, she was one of four blood bank chairmen from the DAR to the American Red Cross. She also solicited money to help establish Chattanooga’s first blood plasma bank. 

In 1945, Mrs. Martin was elected as vice regent for the TSDAR, but was appointed as regent upon the death of Mrs. Albert Lyons Craig. The State History gives a brief review of her time as regent with one of the most notable things accomplished was visiting 23 of the 63 chapters when the country transitioned from a war footing.

In 1947, Mrs. Martin was named Woman of Year by the Curling Ironers Club. A list of Mrs. Martin’s endeavors in public service was given. At that time, she was TN DAR state regent, vice chairman of the National Defense committee of the NSDAR, a regent of the Magna Charter Dames, the past president of Kosmos Woman’s Club, vice president of the board of directors at the Chattanooga Library, and a member of the American Library Association. The article also included that she was the past president of the Chattanooga Writers Club; the Summers-Whitehead Unit, American Legion Auxiliary; Gen. A.P. Stewart Chapter, UDC; and the Volunteer Chapter, US Daughters of 1812, of which she was serving as the national recording secretary. In addition to these organizations, Mrs. Martin was the state president of the Chattanooga Committee of Colonial Dames and had held office in the Daughters of American Colonist and the Little Miss Mag Day Nursery. Additionally, she was a member of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants and the Daughters of Barons of Runnymemde. Mrs. Martin was also cited in the same article as sponsoring the idea of raising funds for a local blood bank; promoting the Buddy Bag projects; serving as Red Cross Motor Corps chairman; staff assistant; assistant chairman of knitting, and as chairman of three zones in residential districts during Red Cross drives. Also in that year, Mrs. Martin was appointed as the national chairman of the National Defense committee.

In 1956, Mrs. Martin served as co-chair for the Armed Forces Day parade. She also attended Continental Congress where she rose to defend the McCarran-Walker Immigration and Nationality Act. When the Act passed in 1952, it was vetoed by President Truman, but Congress overrode his veto. Even in 1956, it was still under contention. The act did little to control immigration, but “was hailed by supporters as a necessary step in preventing communist subversion in the United States, while opponents decried the legislation as being xenophobic and discriminatory.” The bill also removed previously established racial barriers and provide much more strenuous screening of potential immigrants.

Mrs. Martin Blasts at UN appeared in the Chattanooga Times on April 18, 1958. While a delegate at Continental Congress, Mrs. Martin called for withdrawal from the UN by the US. Although other delegates to Congress counter her argument, the President General, Mrs. Fredric A. Groves, called for a vote and the UN withdrawal became national policy for the 186,000-member patriotic organization.

In February 1959, Mrs. Martin attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a new annex to the Old Ladies Home, now called Oak Manor. The new section would be named honoring her many years of service in the Old Ladies Home Association, including her service as president and vice president of the association.

In April 1959, Mrs. Martin was the chairman for the President General’s reception at the 54th State Conference held in the Chattanooga area.

In 1967, Mrs. Martin was elected as regent of the Judge David Campbell for a fifth time. The state conference was held in Chattanooga during her tenure as regent. 

Mrs. Martin continued her service with Judge David Campbell Chapter and various other patriotic and service organization until her death on Feb. 12, 1983. She was a DAR member for over 66 years. She is interned at Forest Grove Cemetery, 4016 Tennessee Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37409, plot: Section K 128 S280.  Mr. and Mrs. Martin had two children, Cyrus Griffin Martin, Jr. (deceased), and Mary Ewing (Martin) Tucker.

(References not cited in the article include newspaper clipping from the Chattanooga newspapers, the Washington Post, Washington, DC, from our Chapter Scrapbooks, 1919-1988.)

Initially prepared for New Horizon/Bridge Course, 2018; rewritten for Grave marking, 2018

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