DAR play honors forgotten heroes

Martha Bratton lit a trail of gunpowder and blew up the ammunition in her backyard to keep the Redcoats from getting it. Even when a British soldier held a reaping hook to her throat, she said she’d rather die than reveal her husband’s troop’s location.

The Revolutionary War heroine’s name has gone down in history, but the brave deeds of many other women have been forgotten because their names were never recorded, said Joan Shrader, member of a local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter. Shrader is trying to highlight what women did during the Revolutionary War by writing short plays.

Her second play, “It’s Not a Lie If You Believe It,” was performed for the Samuel Frazier Chapter of the DAR Saturday, May 20 at the home of Farragut resident “Sam” Wyrosdick.

At the bottom of the program, Shrader included a tribute: “Dedicated to the Albin, Milam, Moreland and Waggoner women of 1777 Virginia. Bless their souls. Every One.”

“That’s a great tie-in to what this play is all about for us,” she said. “Julie [Shrader’s sister] and I have four certified ancestors who were in the Revolution: John Albin, John Milam, John Moreland, and Adam Waggoner. No mention of their wives exists in any record books. These one-act plays try to honor the women who were home with the chores, the children, the incredible survival work of living on the early frontier when their husbands took the family rifle and went off to join the war.”

The imaginary set was the cabin home of Bratton, whose husband, William Bratton, was a colonel in the militia. Her friend, Christina Stuart Griffin, wife of Cyrus Griffin, the last president of the Continental Congress, had come for a visit.

“Women’s roles in something like the Revolutionary War are taken for granted but never documented,” Shrader said. “They really did treat the wounded in the homes and in their sheds, but you never see their names recorded. The men were gone. You’ve got to milk the cows, you’ve got to cut the wood, you’ve got to oversee the fields. They did all that, plus their own chores.”

Joan Shrader, who kept her maiden name, and her sister Julie Shrader of South Dakota, who also kept her maiden name, donned period costumes.

“It has to be fun or it’s not worth the time,” she said about writing the plays. “It has to teach us something. There has to be an educational element to it.”

The 30-minute play included audience participation with hisses for the Redcoats and hoorays for the Patriots. The sisters sang lyrics set to the tunes of popular music.

“Chantilly Lace” became “Chantilly Tea:” ‘Chantilly tea from across the sea, the king gets rich with every sip, don’t try to fool us womenfolk, someday we all intend to vote…’”

The sisters performed the play last month for the South Dakota state DAR convention.