Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by the Marais des Cygnes Chapter DAR.
Several years ago it was not uncommon to see the two pictured octogenarians, Betty Bendorf and Esther Shields, tramping through cemeteries with pen and paper in hand, peering closely at tombstones while documenting the lives and passing of those pioneers and their descendants who settled Miami and Linn counties, respectively.
Both were major contributors in documenting each county’s over one hundred cemeteries in their county cemetery books. Esther even answered a local farmer’s request for assistance when he discovered several tombstones along a fence line at the Miami and Linn County line, just north of 4th Street in La Cygne.
But, this historical research and documentation represents just the tip of the iceberg of their volunteer efforts to preserve local history. Both were presidents of their local Genealogical Societies, members of their Historical Societies, and officers and board members of their county Museums, Miami County Historical Museum & Genealogy Library in Paola and Linn County Museum & Genealogy Library in Pleasanton.
Betty, when Miami County Historical Museum coordinator, manned the six-day-a-week position for many years and, even today, continues to volunteer two days a week. Esther recently published a collection of articles from the “La Cygne Journal” written by W. E. Baer, dating from 1869 to 1949, under the title “Across the Years.”
Interestingly, both were also instrumental in compiling their city’s 150th anniversary books, “Paola, Kansas — A 150 Year Timeline” and “The Story of La Cygne — The People, Places and Pictures.”
Both ladies are also well rounded in their volunteer services, as they are members of the Marais des Cygnes Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) with Betty having the distinction Charter membership and holding numerous State Offices and Committee Chairmanships. And both are active in their local churches, with Esther serving as church Historian and soloist.
As Historic Preservation is one of the three major goals of DAR, it was with great admiration and gratitude the Marais des Cygnes Chapter awarded Betty and Esther with its “Women in American History” award at the chapter’s monthly meeting on June 6.
Anyone interested in researching ancestry or DAR should contact the Marais des Cygnes DAR Chapter on its Facebook page or email ANN.LC.BENTON@gmail.com.