History of our Tent

Detached Tent #23 was named after Mary Chesebro Lee, who moved to the Delavan area in 1847. She spent nearly three years during the Civil War in or near southern combat Commission and hospital units as a nurse. In recognition of Mary Chesebro Lee's contribution to the establishment of the Wisconsin School for the Deaf, it was decided to hold the Induction/Installation ceremony there on May 19, 2012. National DUVCW officers conducted the ceremony in Hannon Hall. Members were sworn in and pinned, and refreshments, music, and a silent auction were part of the celebration. There are 29 charter members of Tent #23. (Click on pictures to enlarge.)

Civil War History

Before Our Tent - Mary Lee Tent #12

The Chartering of the Mary Lee Tent #12, Delavan, Wisconsin

While the organization, initiation and installation of the Mary Lee Tent #12 members and officers did not receive headlines in either the “Delavan Enterprise” or the “Delavan Republican”, it was newsworthy enough to warrant front page coverage in both of the local newspapers.

Officially organizing on December 10, 1928 at the American Legion Hall in Delavan, 35 local ladies under the leadership of the Wisconsin Department President, Julia Lewis of Oskkosh and Hattie Gould met to charter their tent. The group was the largest to charter in the entire state of Wisconsin. The tent voted to keep their charter open another 30 days allowing those women who wished to join but did not have sufficient proof of ancestry to a Civil War veteran, time to complete the necessary paper work. Nine of the original group of ladies had already been affiliated with the DUVCW as members of the Mary Wardrobe Tent in Elkhorn. Feeling that they “could do better work” for the veterans in the Delavan area, prompted the organization of the new tent.

The tent was known as the Mary Lee #12, named in memory of the Delavan woman, who on hearing about the serious illness of her son, Elon Lee, in a southern hospital went to care for him. She continued her service as an army nurse for the duration of the war.

On Friday, January 4, 1929 the Mary Lee Tent met to install its newly elected officers at the American Legion Hall in Delavan. Julia Lewis of Oshkosh was again present and conducted the event. The Elkhorn tent was present to offer sisterly support and “exemplify the work of the tent”. The officers installed were Mary Tyler, president; Laura Huntley, senior vice president; Daisy Sikes, junior vice president; Amy Willis, chaplain; Nellie Austin, treasurer; Amerial Waite, council no. 1; Alta Dunham, council no. 2; Nora Cannon, patriotic instructor; Gladys Tyler, secretary; Stelia Hatch, press correspondent; Edith VanDeBogart guide; Helen Brooks, guard; Henrietta DeVoy, assistant guard; Doris Anderson, musician; Ruth Dunham, color bearer no. 1; Marcia Austin, color bearer no. 2; Margaret Boutelle, color bearer no. 3; Irene Moore, color bearer no. 4 and Belle Matteson as council no. 3. Mrs. Lucille Finch of Elkhorn acted as the installing guide for the ceremony. The veterans of the Civil War from the Delavan area were invited to attend as special guests.

The Mary Lee Tent’s charter became official as of January 7, 1929 with a total of 54 charter members listed in the organization. At a later date, another 20 women would be initiated into the organization.