Following the urgent and persistent appeals of Mrs. Ella Thomas Hapeman of Ottawa, Illinois, widow of Lt. Colonel Douglas Hapeman of the 104th Illinois Volunteers, Mrs. L. Bruce Shattuck called a meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago on May 11, 1899 to form an auxiliary to the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS). There were 51 charter members and a committee was formed to draft a constitution and bylaws of the Dames of the Loyal Legion of the United States (DOLLUS), Mrs. Shattuck, being a leader in club activities in Chicago, was elected President for the first year and her first regular meeting was held October 5, 1899. Mrs. Hapeman was elected President in 1900-1901.
The first state society, Illinois, made eligible for membership only wives, widows, and eldest daughters of MOLLUS Companions. In later years the rule was changed to admit all direct lineal descendants and also the wives of MOLLUS Companions. While some MOLLUS Companions did not favor the formation of an “auxiliary,” recognition and affiliation of the Dames was formally made at the meeting of the MOLLUS Commander-in-Chief in Boston in 1915 under the chairmanship of General Nelson Appleton Miles, who also suggested that societies be formed in other states besides Illinois.
The New York Society was organized at a meeting in the Army and Navy Club in New York City in February 1907 with Mrs. Jasper Cairns as its first President. The New York Society took part in many patriotic events in New York and place the insignia of the DOLLUS in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It also contributed to the table place in the Washington Cathedral in honor of General Nelson Miles. The New York Society declined during the years of World War II but rebuilding commenced in 1952 under the aegis of Miss Grace Doyle of Buffalo. In 1961, the headquarters returned to New York City.
Mrs. John A. Logan and Mrs. Mary Logan Tucker, the wife and daughter of General John A. Logan, organized the District of Columbia (DC) Society. General Logan, as Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1868, designated May 30th “for the purpose of strewing flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the Late Rebellion and whose bodies now lie in almost ever city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.” The DC Society restored the room in which President Lincoln died, in the Peterson house opposite Ford’s Theater. Among the articles contributed by all of the state societies is the original pillow use under the President’s head as he lay dying.
The Pennsylvania Society was organized in February 1909. On June 4, 1922, the Society placed a tablet on Grant’s cabin in Fairmount Park and planted 54 oak trees around the cabin as memorials to ancestors of members. There are now 311 beautiful oaks in what is believed to be this country’s largest memorial grove. During the sesquicentennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1926, the Pennsylvania Society maintained a booth at the exposition. Each Memorial Day from 1922 to 1940, the Society placed a wreath on the site of the Civil War Satterlee Hospital. In 1933, the Society held its first meeting in the MOLLUS Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia and now has a room there in which the DOLLUS has been placing articles that relate to the home and the role of women during the Civil War. In 2008, the Pennsylvania Society ceased to exist as a state society and all of its members became National Members-at-Large.
Currently, there exists two state societies (District of Columbia and Ohio), and a National Membership-at-Large of the Dames of the Loyal Legion of the United States.