15 March 2010
Women's Relief Corps, Order of the Eastern Star, & Mother Enterprise
W. R. C. stands for Women's Relief Corps. From the W. R. C. website: "The National Woman's Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, Inc., is a patriotic organization whose express purpose is to perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic, as we are their auxiliary organized at their request on July 25 and 26, 1883 in Denver, Colorado..." The first statement of their mission reads, "To perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and its heroic dead; to assist in every practicable way in preserving, and making available for research, documents and records pertaining to the Grand Army of the Republic and its members..."
The Grand Army of the Republic was founded in Decatur, Illinois on 6 April 1866 by Benjamin F. Stephenson. Membership was limited to honorably discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or the Revenue Cutter Service who had served between 12 April 1861 and 9 April 1865.
The emblem of the Order is a five-pointed star, and the character-building lessons taught are stories inspired by Biblical figures. In the center of the star is a pulpit. One point contains the image of "Electa's Cup" from the story of the "elect lady" in II John. Next is the "Adah Sword" from the story of Adah, Jephthah's daughter, from Judges. Next is "Life-Time Wheat" from the story of Ruth, the widow. Then there is a "Crown and Sceptor United" from the story of Esther, the wife. Finally is the "Broken Column" from the story of Martha, sister of Lazarus, from the Gospel of John.
And finally, the last line from Nettie's gravestone -- "Mother Enterprise." This is a personal title. According to the Evergreen Cemetery Tour Map and Guide, Nettie was among the first colonists to arrive in Fitzgerald, GA (known as "the colony," or "shacktown") in 1895. She was a reporter for the Enterprise newspaper beginning with its first edition on 12 December 1895. Later, she bought the paper. Nettie was also a famed speaker and temperance movement worker in South Dakota, and she had a passionate interest in the development of the railroads. She was "cast in the mold of the nationally famous Nelly Bly."
Nettie C. Hall was the widow of two Union veterans -- first husband Mr. Weems, second husband Cleveland T. Hall.