A Heflin-based chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy has become the largest in the country, its founder said this week.

The Major General Patrick R. Cleburne Chapter 2632 had 198 members in August 2016 when the organization’s year ends and membership is tallied, according to Lynda Lowery. Membership is granted after an applicant proves blood relation to a Confederate soldier.

The chapter beat out a San Antonio, Texas, branch that recorded 179 members in 2016, said Lowery. The 66-year-old  in 2003 organized the Cleburne County-based chapter, which draws members from surrounding counties. A worker in the organization’s headquarters confirmed the distinction Thursday.

“This is a very meaningful achievement,” Lowery said Wednesday by phone.

The chapter added 35 new members last year, Lowery said, attributing the growth both to an emphasis on expanding those rolls and on the work the organization does.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, other chapters see it more as just a social event,” Lowery said. “Our chapter seeks to accomplish as much as we possibly can.”

That work includes erecting historical markers relaying information about historic area residents’ deep ties to the Confederacy, such as one that stands before the Cleburne County Courthouse in Heflin. It tells about Patrick Cleburne, the Confederate major general for whom the county is now named.

The organization also raises money to preserve Confederate artifacts, and for college scholarships for local students found deserving, Lowery said.

Staff writer Zach Tyler: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @ZTyler_Star.