Lineage Society, Sources of Service

What sources are available to document service for a female patriot from Connecticut?

For a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, documenting a female patriot can offer a special satisfaction. Not only are you putting a new ancestor on file, but you are documenting one whose history is little covered. What sources can help you complete her line?

Due to coverture, it can be extremely difficult to document the activities of a married woman. The principle considered her as part of a “unit” with her husband, with her husband having all governing activities. A married woman’s actions, therefore, are generally attributed to her husband. Therefore, you’ll want to focus on a single woman or a widow.

You’ll also need to consider what activities women could and could not participate in at the time. Women were barred from joining the military or holding political office. It is highly unlikely they could take a leadership role in a church or swear an oath. If they had their own property or income, they could pay taxes or offer financial support for the cause. That limits us to a few likely record groups.

In Connecticut, the most accessible collection that documents support for the cause is called Connecticut Archives. The finding aid essentially describes it as “papers and correspondence.” The collection includes a number of loose receipts, which may document payment for goods, the use of a home and more.

Theoretically, a property owner could also show support for the cause through the payment of taxes. However, the structure of Connecticut’s tax payment makes their use as service somewhat challenging. Connecticut’s towns allocated a portion of their tax payments to the Continental Army after that year’s taxes had been paid. (To document this, you’ll need to correlate the town’s grand list and town meeting records.) Since tax payers did not know beforehand how their taxes would be used, questions could be raised as to whether or not the payment reflects their motives.

The payment of the 1780 beef tax would most definitely serve as qualifying service, as the tax was allocated specifically to the Army. Thus far, records for this tax appear to be missing. I continue to hope that they will be located soon.