Constantia Chapter celebrates 100th Anniversary

Published 9:00 am Thursday, March 28, 2024

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Suffolk, Virginia —On Feb. 17, 2024, the Constantia Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), Suffolk, commemorated its 100th Anniversary at a special luncheon at the First Lady venue in Suffolk. 

A timeline of artifacts, photos, and scrapbooks were on display. A Patriot tree held ornaments representing each of the chapter’s Patriot ancestors. Regent Lou Ventura welcomed members, guests, numerous State and District officers, and six past chapter Regents in attendance. It was an honor to have State Regent Laurie Nesbitt bring greetings. After appetizers and a buffet lunch, Brucie Standahl, Honorary Regent, presented the program. Chapter members, dressed in period costumes and representing former Regents, shared highlights of each decade of the chapter. One member brought greetings from Anna Mary Riddick, an organizing member of the Constantia Chapter. Miss Riddick was one of the first women in Suffolk to vote in 1920. Three members were inducted into the chapter, bringing the membership to 80. Cake and sparkling cider accompanied a toast to Constantia Chapter and its members, past and present. 

Constantia Chapter was organized on February 21, 1924, by Organizing Regent Blanche Kilby Bell. The chapter had a strong start, with 21 organizing members and 35 charter members. The chapter proudly bears the name of John Constant’s house and plantation. John Constant was the first man to establish a home and business on the banks of the Nansemond River around 1720. His house stood where Cedar Hill Cemetery is now, and his warehouse, Constant’s Wharf, was where the Hilton Garden Inn is now. The original house deteriorated and was torn down by the city. Chapter members, led by Blanche Kilby Bell, raised funds and had a replica house rebuilt on the original brick foundation in 1926. By the 1990s, the house could no longer be maintained in its original location. Robert Baker, whose mother had been an active member of Constantia Chapter, volunteered to have the house moved to its current location behind the R.W. Baker Funeral Home on W. Washinton Street at his expense.  Mr. Baker allows the chapter and other community groups to use Constantia House. Constantia Chapter holds its Book Club and other meetings in Constantia House. 

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Constantia Chapter Daughters are involved in many varied community and national projects living up to the motto, “God, Home and Country.” Constantia members make it a priority to support active-duty military and veterans in ongoing programs. Some of these include sending care packages to Navy ships, Christmas cards to active-duty military, supplies to the Veterans Hospital in Hampton, and donations to homeless veterans. We support local classrooms with school supplies and award a $500 scholarship to a local high school Good Citizen Award winner. A special activity is to sponsor Naturalization Ceremonies for our nation’s newest citizens at the Federal Courthouse in Norfolk. Our Book Club meets four times a year to discuss historical nonfiction. Informal member get-togethers meet monthly to work on Leaders Courses and/or projects. Historic Preservation Awards are presented to several individuals who have been instrumental in preserving our communities. 

The Constantia Chapter sponsored Wreaths Across America at Cedar Hill Cemetery this year. Nearly 200 wreaths were laid on veterans’ graves following a ceremony honoring those veterans. The chapter actively supports the various America 250 projects in our area. One of those projects will be working with the American Friends of Lafayette to sponsor several events, remembering Lafayette’s Farewell Tour in 1824-25. Those events will be taking place in Suffolk in 2025. 

Constantia Chapter meets in Suffolk and Franklin, and our members live in various local cities. Do you have an ancestor who fought or provided services during the Revolutionary War? If you are a woman 18 or older, our members would be glad to help you find your Patriot. Our chapter members would be glad to have you join the Constantia Chapter, NSDAR, as we support Historic Preservation, Education, and Patriotism. Please contact us on its Facebook page, Constantia Chapter NSDAR, or website,