On January 13, 1886, ten women met in New York to form a Christian Sisterhood of Service. These ten ladies are known as the “Original Ten”. At that time, they had no idea of the far-reaching effects that meeting would have.
Margaret Bottome, the founder of the organization, served as the President of The King’s Daughters and Sons until her death in 1906. She was the wife of a Methodist minister and well known for her Bible talks and the articles she wrote for The Ladies Home Journal. She was a true woman of God, feeling it was her responsibility to spread God’s word.
Mary Lowe Dickinson, educator and poet, established and became the first editor of The Silver Cross, the magazine of the Order.
Isabella Charles Davis traveled with her missionary husband in the Middle East. When she returned to New York City, she became active in social reform. Later, Mrs. Davis traveled throughout the United States inspiring members with her wonderful speeches.
Mary Louise Irving was the principal of a girls’ school. She suggested the name “The King’s Daughters”. This phrase was taken from Psalm 45:9 which says that the daughters of King's were honorable women.
Along with these ladies, Georgia Libby, Frances Payson, Susan Schenck, Helen Hammersley, Mrs. Cortland DePeyster Field, and Mrs. J. F. Rugges worked together in the early development of the Order.
In 1887, the Order opened its membership to Sons as well as Daughters of The King. One of the most popular and active groups was the Commercial Travelers Chapter which cooperated with the work of the YMCA. It was made up of 100 men who often worked with the homeless and destitute in various large cities.
Other men’s programs were soon started. The J. A. Riis Settlement House and the flower mission were founded in New York. In other places, men worked with the women in joint projects.
Today, the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons headquarters is located in Chautauqua, New York. Chapter are currently located in 26 states in the US and one province in Canada.
The mission of the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons as described by The Original Ten is “The development of Spiritual Life and Stimulation of Christian Activity.”
Soon after the initial gathering of the Original Ten, two Circles were organized in Pennsylvania. The first convention was held in May 1895 in Philadelphia. t that time Pennsylvania had 1239 Circles and a membership of 12,000. The state’s main project was The King’s Daughters’ Holiday House in Montgomery County. The Holiday House housed twenty-five needy mothers and children for a free two weeks’ vacation. In 1926 it became a state-owned home for the aged.
The Order became popular with the Moravians of Pennsylvania. While vacationing at the New Jersey shore, Miss Barbara Schmich learned of the work of the KIng’s Daughters. When she returned to Bethlehem, PA, she met with some of her Moravian friends and explained the goals of the Order. A circle of ten women was formed and at first they called themselves the Silent Ten. Later, the circle was renamed the Watchful Circle. Just a month later, The Helpers Circle was formed. By 1895 twelve Moravian circles had been organized in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The leaders felt that more work could be accomplished if a general committee or board guided or coordinated their efforts. Thus, the Moravian Union was established. The Union’s objective was to care for the sick and lonely. Eventually this goal led to the opening of the Moravian King’s Daughters and Sons Home on Market Street in Bethlehem. The Home is an assisted living facility which can accommodate fifteen residents. It continues to be supported by the Moravian Union and the circles of the Pennsylvania Branch of the King’s Daughters and Sons.
In 1954 the Watchful Circle of Pottstown, Pennsylvania donated money to the Branch to be used for constructing an assisted living home in Pottstown. The M. Irene Boyer Home in Pottstown was completed in 1959. This home for the elderly included sixteen guest rooms. For 36 years the home was the major project of the Branch. In the late 1990’s the Branch determined that it was no longer financially feasible to maintain this project, and the home was closed. With the closing of the home, members of the Pennsylvania Branch turned their attention to the needs of the youth of Pennsylvania. The slogan became “When we were young we helped the old; now that we are older we will help the young.” To this end, the Branch currently awards scholarships to residents of Pennsylvania who attend an accredited Pennsylvania school. Each year scholarships are awarded to students majoring in health careers, ministry, or education. In addition, individual circles choose their own charitable service projects on which to work. There certainly are no fewer people with problems and needs than when the Order was founded. However, there are more opportunities for service from which to choose.
Provides members with information on endorsed projects, channels monetary support to these endorsed projects and many local charities, provides material gifts such as shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, and educational scholarships to students overseas who study in their respective countries.
Helps North American Indians by publicizing their needs, by financial and material support of endorsed missions and schools and awarding educational scholarships to those of Native American descent.
International Scholarships are awarded to those in financial need who have answered God’s call on their lives and are enrolled in an accredited seminary or college.
Donations allow the creative process of developing Junior Circles, encouraging junior leaders and ensuring communication for the sharing of service ideas.
International Scholarships are awarded to students in financial need who have chosen service to their communities through any of the health services.
Scholarships are awarded to the Chautauqua Program each summer. Each scholarship is of four weeks duration period of time.
The Order sets aside our houses and chapel at Chautauqua for one-week stays for ordained clergy active in their congregations. The week includes a week of caring, renewal and fun. Each state sponsors a clergy from their state.
The Order sets aside the houses and chapel for its members to come and learn about the Order and it’s many programs.
For more information on any of the above missions – please go to the International Web site iokds.org