According to Webster's, "Dame" is a title of courtesy given to the mistress of a household or a woman married to a knight, or a nonhereditary title bestowed by a monarch. In modern-day terms, it is a description of a classy, smart, fine-looking female who has a walk that makes men think of things they should never consider.
It stands to literary reason that to be called Dame is an exceptional honor; it quickly tells us that this woman is fine, honorable and classic, or possesses a high stepping and undulating manner of crossing the street.
However, to be known as a Dame of the XVII Century, it is necessary to have the right ancestors. So those of you who are interested in being referred to as Dame Mary or Alice or Sarah, start digging into your family history; it will be well worth your time and energy. Just keep searching for a parent who arrived here in the 1600s. It can be as late as December of 1699, and if your relatives owned land, voted or made the census records, you are in. You are not searching for great landowners, college-educated statesmen or officers of great bravery in whatever army, just folks who helped to build this country with purpose and goodwill.
This group of dedicated women makes sure that our history is taught to the children of this country, that teaching provides them with pride in our accomplishments as a nation.
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The Dames of the XVII Century are profoundly interested in keeping history in the forefront of all the young minds, which, at times, have an interest in or wonder about those that came before them.
The South Carolina state president of the Colonial Dames, Mrs. Ronald Johnson Horton, said it better than anyone else; "Being a member of this society is such an honor and pleasure for me! To think that my ancestry has been documented from me to my parents to each generation of grandparents is still a sense of awe and grateful pride. To know their names and the exact places where they lived and the children they had and the neighbors who lived nearby and what they accomplished during their lives, gives me a sense of close family ties and love for each one of those ancestors."
Members should be proud, for this organization has been instrumental in helping to preserve the nation's history and records, in maintaining colonial sites and erecting markers that tell of that location's contribution to the sagas that fill our state archives. They graciously fund scholarships for young Americans and encourage teachers to tell truthful facts about our country's history. They carefully preserve the lineages and coats of arms of our armorial ancestors. They always honor and remember our veterans and take great pride in remembering the first years and the great struggles of this grand democracy, never minimizing the social and physical entrenchments our ancestors encountered.
Along with all of those pure ideals and actions, there is the simple joy of meetings. Women seem to reap many benefits from sitting in a group and discussing whatever. They do not need epicurean lunches, a simple cookie and a glass of sweet iced tea is all that is necessary. They talk, laugh and make plans for the next time they meet and where that event is to be held. They enjoy the host house and perusing all of her ancestral trappings, and then telling about what they or their sisters have.
At the last local meeting, the social part was delightful, but looking out the front door was the icing on the cake. Can you imagine, this day in time, a place where one can see green grass as far as the eye can perceive? A few bare-limbed trees dot the landscape, all 50 or more acres surrounded by tall slender cedars, magnificent oaks and other hardwoods that will bring so much pleasure and beauty in the hot days of summer. Seen in the daylight hours, one can allow the imagination to soar, to dream of turkeys marching in single-file lines safe and protected in this Mecca, which is surrounded by new businesses, loud cars racing to the next stop light and houses where signs proclaim outrageous bargains. In the very middle of all of that, there is this place, quiet, safe for the deer, raccoons and all the others that are finding themselves homeless. An absolute haven, protected by folks who treasure the magnificence of rural beauty and the blessed pleasure of quiet.
It was in this place that these Dames gloried in the miracle of remembering all that has been accomplished and all that is to come. Those women who do not judge, they simply welcome. For after all, they are from the same time in history, all from different areas and different backgrounds, however all enjoying the same blessing. They have been here a long time and their ancestors were brave and single-minded. They were people who unknowingly left their heirs this great gift of belonging.