Recently, I've been sharing bits and pieces of my work as a Genealogy Consultant for the DAR. When a new prospective member and I sit down to start the work of documenting her lineage back to her Revolutionary War patriot, I first ask if she has any women in her family or up her tree who were DAR members. If she does then that's a great start and we can get to work right away. If not then I ask if she knows of anyone on her tree who was in the Revolutionary War. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't know of one.
You might be wondering how it might come to be that a woman wants to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and not already know of her patriot ancestor? It happens more often than you might think! Say I'm a member and my best-est ever friend also wants to be a member so we can have some fun together while giving back to the community but doesn't know of a patriot on her tree. What to do? Call in the Genealogy Consultant.
It happened just this way recently. One of our members who gives a lot of time to the organization was hopeful that her friend could have a DAR patriot on her tree. She and her friend started building out a tree for her on Ancestry as quickly as possible, mostly using Ancestry Member Trees. It's not the most reliable way to build a tree for your personal work, but when you're in a hurry it can work if you are careful about using those member trees. Look for documentation and the more sources you see on a tree, the more likely it is to be worthwhile. Our member and her friend thought they found a patriot of the Revolution and that's when they got me involved.
Before we get into that, I want to share an observation or two. When I first started doing this work for the DAR, the general thought was that there were ladies out in the population who would come to us and say they wanted to be a member just so that someone with some skills would build out their tree for them. I don't see that anymore. I think that Ancestry is out there running commercials all the time and people see how "easy" it is to do your own genealogy. It gives an impression that they can build out a tree in no time just by following those shaky leaves. So they pretty much don't need the DAR to do that for them. And it's good for us because ladies don't say they are interested in membership for the wrong reason.
Another thought to share at this point is that sometimes what we've been told about who is on a prospective member's tree, just isn't true. A couple of months ago I saw a very big hole in the lineage of a delightful woman. She had been told that her 2nd great grandmother was a DAR. When I built out a tree for her, I could see that the name she gave me as the member was possibly the niece of someone who might be on her tree. After a serious hunt, I could not find any proof of her real great grandmother's parents. At that point I called in some ladies who knew how to find a hidden ancestor and they too couldn't find a mother or a father. It was a very difficult moment when I had to tell her that we hadn't been able to prove her lineage. I could tell that she thought we weren't very good at doing this sort of stuff. Oh, well.
OK, so I started out wanting to share how we find patriots on a tree. I think it's cool and it's pretty simple, really. First, understand that for DAR purposes, an ancestor can be considered for recognition as a Patriot if the rendered service happened from 19 April 1775 to 26 November 1783. To be of an appropriate age your ancestor is most likely to have been born between the years of approximately 1726 to 1765. As you might imagine, young men usually fought and older men gave good and services, wrote petitions and other patriotic works. Women rendered service when they cooked, mended clothes, or gave materials that would help support the fighting. Both men and women paid Supply Taxes, in which a portion of the tax collected went to the support of the war effort.
I could say a lot more here about the types of eligible service, but let's save that for another day. Just know that you should look at men and women equally. Women's service is a bit more difficult to prove, usually, because they are often hidden to the records. And remember too, that you have hundreds and hundreds of ancestors to look at!
So that's pretty much it. That's where you start. You ancestor born in Canada? Maybe they might be a patriot too especially f they came from Quebec. From France? It's worth a check because France was our biggest friend during the Revolution. Spain? Sure, it's worth a check because Spain had forts in the southern territories, in Florida, and in what's now Louisiana. Mexico? Try it too. More and more of the newer ancestor Patriots recently added to the DAR listings have been from Canada, France, and Spain.
How do you check? Go to DAR.org and click on the bar that says Genealogy. That will take you to the GRS, or Genealogy Records System. The click on Ancestor Database and start entering names. Be sure to use the Advanced Search and Soundex. Sometimes it helps to enter less information rather than more. Give it a try. You might be surprised!!
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