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She Founded Florida's DAR

Updated: Apr 5

Kate (Livingston) Eagan,

Women’s History Month, Special Edition of Florida Trailblazers

The Jacksonville Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution rightfully refers to itself as the “Mother Chapter of Florida,” for it was in fact the first of Florida’s DAR Chapters. Formed in 1896, the organization was at one time known as the Katherine Livingston Eagan Chapter of the National Society of DAR, so named for the Society’s founder.

Kate Eagan, as she was often known by, was born in Wisconsin in 1852. Her family moved back to New York when she was four years of age. After marrying Dennis Eagan in New York City, the newlyweds came to Florida, settling first at Madison, where he began serving as both Land Commissioner and Internal Revenue collector. Dennis not only enjoyed collecting taxes and doling out public lands to pioneers, he and Kate also obviously enjoyed acquiring vacant land, for they both accumulated a considerable amount of land in and around Orlando during the 1870s.

40 acres on the northwest corner of Bumby & South Street in Orlando, Florida owned in 1877 by Kate Eagan.

Kate Livingston Eagan’s parents, Edward & Phoebe (Curtis) Livingston, also came to Florida, building their residence on the east shore of Lake Osceola, in a place called Osceola in 1877. Now Winter Park, Florida, Kate’s father served as the first Postmaster of Osceola, and dabbled too in attempting to build one of Central Florida’s earliest railroads.

By 1895, the politics of Dennis had taken he and Kate to Jacksonville, where Dennis served as Postmaster and head of the Republican Party, while Kate became actively involved in women’s issues. In addition to being the Jacksonville organizer of Florida’s first DAR chapter in 1895-96, Kate also served as Florida’s first DAR State Regent. (Correction: Kate later served as the State Regent of Florida.)

While representing Florida’s DAR convention at Washington, DC in February 1902, Kate Eagan attended a birthday reception for Susan B. Anthony. After meeting the 82 years young icon of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, Kate was asked by a DC paper to write her opinion of the movement. Reprinted in The Tampa Tribune of 30 Mar 1902, Kate wrote: “Since I have attended these meetings and have met so many earnest women, who place so much importance upon this question, I have changed my opinions very materially, and cannot help thinking that the world would be much better if there were more broadminded women in the country that have a purpose in life that is not entirely selfish.”

A Tampa Tribune reporter interviewed Kate Eagan a month later, in March of 1902, while “Mrs. Dennis Eagan, of Jacksonville, the elegant and charming State Regent of The Daughters of the American Revolution,” was meeting with local ladies who were interested in forming a Tampa Chapter of the NSDAR.

Kate, the granddaughter of Lt. Colonel Richard Livingston, an American Revolution Patriot who fought in the Battle of Stillwater and who was present at the surrender of General Burgoyne, died in 1933 at the age of 81 years. “Mrs. Eagan,” reported The Morning Press of Santa Barbara, California on 28 June 1933, “was prominent in national and state societies of The Daughters of the American Revolution. The Catherine Livingston Chapter in Jacksonville was named for her. She was also a member of the Colonial Dames, Daughters of 1812.”

Kate Livingston Eagan is also feathered as Exhibit 37 in my book, The Ladies were Daughters

Too (2024), a history of the extraordinary founders of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and The Daughters of the American Revolution. Click on the cover above to read more about this book at my Amazon page.

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