cahawba chapter nsdar
OLD CAHAWBA: FIRST CAPITAL OF ALABAMA
When Cahawba Chapter was organized in 1945, the founders took its name from the first capital of the State of Alabama, located below Selma at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers. The name “Cahawba” comes from a Choctaw name meaning literally “waters above.” The Choctaw Indians who settled in the territory knew of the river’s rage. They call it “OKA UBA.” When white men heard the Indians say “OKA UBA,” they interpreted the words as “Cahawba.” It is possible that the name originated from a Creek word meaning “extensive canebrakes,” an apt description of the land bordering the Cahaba River.
Carved out of the wilderness in 1819, Cahawba, a fully functioning capital city by 1820, was visited by Lafayette in 1824. However, the city lost the designation as state capital when the state government was moved in 1826. The town continued to prosper and became the cultural and commercial center for central Alabama’s wealthiest cotton planters.
Many gracious antebellum homes and businesses were built, only to be suddenly and mysteriously abandoned shortly after the Civil War. Once home to thousands, Cahawba is now a ghost town, a place of picturesque ruins, and an important archaeological site. Referred to as “Old Cahawba,” the site is managed by the Alabama Historical Commission and a park has been established to provide extensive research and restoration.
History of the Cahawba Chapter
In 1945, Nell Winston Fallaw saw the need for a group of women to form a chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR or DAR). This dream was organized by career women in Birmingham, Alabama. Starting with a membership of twenty-nine, the chapter grew by attracting teachers and business women interested in high ideals, aims, and undertakings of the DAR.
Mrs. Fallaw’s hard work and great achievements included service as State Treasurer, State Regent, Vice President General and membership on the board of Trustees of Kate Duncan Smith School at Grant, Alabama. In Mrs. Fallaw’ s honor, Cahawba Chapter NSDAR established the Nell Fallaw Scholarship at Kate Duncan Smith School, provided a pew at Lane Chapel in her honor, and placed her portrait in the Nell Fallaw Farm Cottage.
Over the years, many Cahawba Chapter members have provided service to NSDAR. Members have served the national and state societies as chairmen and vice-chairmen of various committees. In 2010, the chapter was honored when the chapter and state Outstanding Junior served as personal page to President General Linda Gist Calvin at both the state conference and Continental Congress. In addition to sponsoring the Alabama State Daughters of the American Revolution (ASDAR) Outstanding Junior in 2009 and 2010, the chapter also sponsored the ASDAR Outstanding Teacher of American History both years.
The chapter also participates in many other community and DAR activities. In recent years, Cahawba Chapter NSDAR has participated in the Birmingham Veterans Day Parade, participated in wreath laying, assisted with the American Village on Memorial Day, sponsored a classroom at KDS DAR School and provided Christmas gifts to veterans through the Veterans Administration (VA). As a result of the commitment to serving DAR and the community, the chapter consistently receives the highest levels of both the NSDAR Chapter Achievement Award and the State Standard of Excellence Award. In May of 2005, the chapter celebrated its 60th anniversary. Founding member, Eleanor Johns, attended the festivities and presented the chapter with an original chapter yearbook.