Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A short little story about a recent DAR application and a tip

I like working as a Genealogy Consultant for the DAR. I meet and work closely with a lovely bunch of ladies who are real excited about becoming members. And each one brings with her a unique basket of ancestors and every basket is different. Sure, our chapter here in San Diego is lots of fun and we work at projects that serve our community and the veterans and their families who live and work here. But mostly, I think I'm in it for the genealogy!

Recently I helped a prospective member get her application ready. She had a lot of ancestors from Mississippi and Alabama during the early 1800s. Everyone had initials instead of proper given names! Everyone! If you stopped to carefully examine who was where and when, you could sort of guess how the generations lined up and who was who. But I swear, each person had a different name in every record. I'd hoped that a chart might convince the Genie at National who reviewed that application of the connections between generations, but he remained questioning. So the prospective member received a ARI, or Additional Information Requested.

At first when I began doing this work, I was super afraid of the AIR letter. It had been called at one time "dreaded." One tried not to get an AIR, at all costs. And some of the ladies sort of bragged that they'd never received one! Really?! But I almost don't mind getting one because I know that I missed some item and there was an opportunity to learn. If I could keep my cool.

Well, here we are in Mississippi and this ancestor of my prospective member is a lady who is listed with lots of initials in records and not hardly a full given name in the lot. Even on this ancestor's death certificate listing the name of her father, she was recorded as Mrs. "Husband's Name". Her father's name recorded there gave two initials and not a given name to be seen. So that death certificate was no help in establishing proof of the woman's parentage, at all. We used it to establish dates of birth and death. But not to establish parentage.

I made a chart hoping to see the connection between records. It could be done but it was a long way to go to prove one name. I would have to use five censes records, a Civil War Pension Application and a Service File from Fold3. That's a lot of stuff to prove one set of names. Then I thought of a tried-and-true strategy I'd used before: checking the death certificate of siblings.

I made a list of where each of our lady's sibs died and had the prospective member look for and order them. Two came back. The sister's death certificate was as bad as the one in hand of the ancestor in question. But her brother's death certificate listed both of his parents with full names! Connection between generation made!

To wrap it all up, census records from both 1870 and 1880 were referenced to show that family unit and that the lady ancestor included the man whose death certificate we submitted. It made a tidy little package.

Tip: think about the siblings' death certificates!

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