Due to inclement weather, the William F. Slemons Ch. 977 United Daughters of the Confederacy heard a book review rather than conducting its annual grave cleaning-picnic and marker dedication at Campground Cemetery. Wreaths made by Sue Johnson and Connie Mullis will be placed at a later date at Campground Cemetery on the Unknown Soldiers graves and at the Confederate marker in Oakland Cemetery.

Nine UDC members and one guest, Carolyn Harper of Star City, met in the home of UDC member Terri Wolfe where they had an inside picnic and heard Janie Fuller’s book review of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dress Maker, a historical novel by Jenniver Chiaverni.

The main character in the Chiaverni novel was Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave. The time period covered nearly a half century of her life in which some of the most momentous American history occurred.

Keckley was a gifted seamstress and earned her freedom by sewing elegant dresses. She had sewn for Varina Davis, wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and as her skill and demand made its way by word of mouth to Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln requested Keckley’s services. During this time, Keckley became a devoted employee and was well-known to President Lincoln and experienced much of the Civil War first hand during her time in the White House. Because of Mrs. Lincoln’s social fall after her husband’s death and Keckley’s being African American, the seamstress endured and experienced many trials.

Fuller did not tell the ending to the novel. Instead, she left the members hanging as she wanted them to read it for themselves.

After the program, President Thurman applauded the Slemon’s ladies for their hard work on the Civil War marker placed at the Drew County Courthouse. She was especially proud of their fund raising. The ladies raised enough money that the budget is in great shape. Because of this, the group voted to donate money to the Nevada County Park to save the battlefield at Elkins Ferry, as well as agreeing to give a donation to the UDC scholarship fund in memory of Susan Railsback, a former state president and member of the David O. Dodd UDC chapter in Pine Bluff. In addition, the group allotted a gift to the UDC Track Chair fund raiser for veterans who are unable to traverse rough terrain to participate in hunting and other outdoor activities because of their loss of limbs, etc., while serving in the military.

The group discussed a request by their Ohio member, Sara Mathis, to look into creating a chapter pin. Martha Weatherford’s daughter, Rachel, is going to create some designs for the group to consider.

Thurman reminded the group that on Apr. 18 at 11 a.m. there will be a Division Memorial Marker Service on the east side of the Old State House, a lunch afterwards if they contact Division President Kay Tatum for reservations, and another memorial service at Mounty Holley Cemetery with the David O. Dodd members following the lunch.

Thurman also mentioned that on Friday, Apr 24, there is a Sultana Observance in Marion. There will be a marker dedication and other events that memorialize the demise of the riverboat, which blew its boilers because of the greed of the captain. Hundreds of former prisoners of war died in this wreck.

Thurman asked the ladies to please place the information about the singing toy bear sales to raise money for the Track Chair Project at their favorite eating places or on their church bulletins.

The next Slemons meeting is June 2 at 2 p.m. at Terri Wolfe’s home. The program will be “Black Soldiers in Arkansas” with Beth Thurman as the presenter.