Monday, August 25, 2014

The DAR Chapter Meet & Greet

I was kinda nervous. I was going to meet some of the local chapter DAR ladies to see about joining. (See previous posts here and here for the full background on how I got to this point.) The more I thought about joining, the more I liked the idea. I love genealogy and have a lot of warm feelings about my ancestors especially those who served in the Revolutionary War. I love finding out about them and was sort of looking for an excuse to dig deeper, as if I even need one. Back in May of this year I did a post for the theme "Military Memories" listing both my proven and suspected Revolutionary War ancestors, which you can see here. I decided then that I wanted the chance to figure out if they served and in what capacity. This DAR adventure could help me do that because it would give the task structure, another level of motivation, and some really great support in the form of DAR records and fellow Daughters who are much better than I at research in this area.

I checked out the activities of one of the local chapters online and liked what they were doing. They were a medium sized group and their projects were worthwhile. They even have a connection to a local military memorial and museum, the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier that's a very popular local attraction in San Diego Bay on the Embarcadero. Now it was time to take the first step and see where I might fit in. That's where the Meet & Greet comes in.

I thought about what to wear. A long time. Too long in fact. But that says more about me than them. I finally settled on an outfit that I can best describe as a selection from my summer wardrobe I call "clean casual". No spots? I'm good to go!

I walked into Mimi's Café in Mission Valley and saw three ladies in the waiting area who glanced in my direction and these were the ladies I had come to meet. What is it about walking into a place and meeting people you don't know? It can be off-putting and might take a small muster of courage, but good things often take that. I was feeling awkward for all of 20 seconds and then, poof, we had already met and it was OK. No, it was more than OK because I felt welcome.

Once we got going - there were four of us, we two prospective transfers plus the Regent and the Registrar - time flew and we had a great good time getting to know each other. The Regent is like the head of the group and the Registrar is a mystery to me because it seems she does just about everything from taking in new and prospective members to giving guidance to those navigating the waters of getting applications approved. (And remember here that I am beyond new and don't know much at all so that might be all wrong.) There had just been a change of the guard and they were the incoming officers. Still, they really knew what they were doing!

I could tell right away that I wanted to be part of the team these ladies were on. Even the other "new kid" who was transferring from a chapter in another state was super nice and knowledgeable. I felt right at home. Sign me up!

There were some take-away points that came up. It so happened that both myself and the other transfer are working on an additional ancestors and are researching, compiling materials, and readying ourselves for the official papers called a Supplemental Application. I picked up that the review process is now much more rigorous than in the past. Past applications were approved way back when, pretty much on the basis of "because my grandmother told me so." As time went by and the art and science of genealogy got spiffed up, the applications needed increasingly more rigorous back-up documentation. Now with so much available online the hunt is easier, but there are still elusive documents in out of the way archives. Aren't there always?! But the very best effort must be put forth and often explained with notes and proper source citations. I tell ya, it really makes you spiff up your game, and I do like that!

Another aspect of the rigor of the process is that you have to show real links between generations with supporting documents. The idea is to use the best direct evidence that you can and if that's not available it should be explained as to why only supporting evidence is being used. The first four generations (me plus three) need to be pretty much locked in with birth, marriage, and death certificates. Exceptions are made and substitutes accepted for cause.

This isn't as hard as it sounds, if it does sound that way. It's a bit laborious and time is required but that's true of all good genealogy. But if you ask what's required first and then take the time to find it, you'll probably be just fine. It's a process. It can be hard when documents aren't where they are supposed to be or not available for 100 years or whatever, but it's at those moments when you need to ask for help that help is there waiting for you. I have to remind myself to take time and enjoy the process. It feels great when you can finally prove a relationship that you once took for granted because grandma told you so!

I got a briefing on the committees looking for assistance. The other transfer was very experienced and had held committee positions at her old chapter in another state. I asked to exchange contact info with her because she obviously knows what's going on and I so do not!

I left the meet and greet feeling very good about this group:)

My Grandpop Kelly visiting his sister in sunny Florida from cold and snowy Maryland.
About 1950.
It was his mother's ancestor, Nehemiah Newan who was the Revolutionary War ancestor under whom I was accepted into the NSDAR.

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