Lineage Society

How do I document a DAR or SAR ancestor from Quebec?

(Partially a repost from May – with a few updates!)

Two societies – the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution – permit applications from prospective members whose ancestors did not live in the (now) United States, provided those ancestors demonstrated support for the American cause. This includes ancestors from Quebec, some of whom sided with the Americans during the attempted invasion of Quebec City. If your ancestor is among those individuals, be prepared to document their residence and service, as many are new ancestors.

Deb Duay has provided an index that can help you find the documentation you need to support your ancestor’s service. Alphabetical by ancestor’s last name, it includes the individual’s name, date and location of birth, residence during the War, spouse, and the source of service. Some sources can be submitted directly, while others are really indexes for which you’ll need to find the original documentation.

Be aware: it’s best to confirm the translation of any entries in French language sources about your ancestor. In at least one instance, we found that the French language record and the English translation did not agree – and that the difference would cause at least one of the societies to disallow descendants of this ancestor based on the society’s “last act” policy requiring that the individual’s “last act” be in support of the Americans.

For more on French-Canadian patriots and the “Last Act” policy, see our articles on the subject in the NGS Magazine.

Don’t forget, a line “from Quebec” may actually originate in the American colonies. Many of the settlers in the region of Quebec called the Eastern Townships were what is now called the “Late Loyalists.” These individuals arrived after the American Revolution in search of low cost land and may not have had pro-British sentiments. In fact, a number were American militia soldiers and officers. Do some digging on your Quebec lines. You may be surprised to find one trace back to Massachusetts, New Hampshire or another New England states.

Questions? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

Lineage Society

Family Samplers: An unusual resource – and one you can still make

When we talk about supporting documentation, we generally think about documents – things on paper. But “documentation” can include fabric too! Family samplers, a form of needlepoint with information on the family structure and vital records events, can also provide evidence of birth, death, marriage and relationships.

According to the Smithsonian, the first known example of a sampler is dated to 1645. By the 1700s, they were used as a display of a woman’s level of education. The more complex the sampler, the stronger her needlework skills. Many were simply decorative, but others contained important details. References to the “family register” style of sampler suggest that they were most popular from the mid-18th to mid-19th century. (See and for details.)

Like family Bibles, these samplers – if they survive – provide valuable information. They were even included in pension files to support dates of birth and marriage. As genealogists, we still need to weigh the value of the source. Do we know the artist? How likely were they to accurately report the information they provided? In many cases, these young women were present at the events they recorded and could accurately recount their history. Images of samplers, under the right circumstances, can be definitely be used as supporting documentation in a lineage society application.

And if you’re looking a craft project to keep you occupied as we head into the cooler winter months, the sampler is a great option. Many needlepoint companies make a modern version as a kit. You can fill in your own tree to create a family record for future generations.

Lineage Society

Land Records: An Underused Source in Lineage Society Applications

No birth certificate, no will. How do you document the relationship between parent and child to meet the standards of a lineage society, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution?

For many families, land records can help fill in the gaps. You may not have had enough money to require a will nor the religious affiliation to attend church, but if you farmed, you needed to be able to prove you owned your land. That meant filing a deed.

When are parent-child relationships indicated in a deed?

These are a few of the most common cases:

  1. The parent sells the child their land. It was common for farming parents to sell their farms to their children before retirement age. It protected the family’s assets, just in case something happened to them, and encouraged the child to care for their parents. The relationship might be mentioned in the initial deed or in later sales of the property.
  2. The child sells land they inherited. It was possible for a family to never file probate on an estate but still take ownership of the parents’ land. When they went to sell that land, the child’s deed of sale may indicate that they were the heir of said parent.

How do you find the deeds?

It will depend on the location. In most cases, deeds are stored with either the county clerk or the county recorder. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, they are stored with the town clerk. Once you’ve identified the record keeper, determine how to access the deeds. The clerk’s website should tell you what they’ve placed online. Check FamilySearch as well. Anything not listed on these two sites, you will likely have to access in the clerk’s office. Once you’ve determined how to access the records, use the grantor/grantee index to find the correct volume and page. Be sure to check both sides.

Happy hunting!

Lineage Society

Avoid Common Lineage Society Mistakes: Know What Documents You’ll Need to Provide

Family trees? Ancestry ThruLines? A family genealogy?

Lineage societies have rules about records you can and cannot submit as supporting documentation. Knowing what those rules are can save you significant time and frustration.

Check with your specific society before proceeding, but here are a few general rules.

  1. If a vital record (birth, death or marriage certificate or record) exists, do your best to acquire a copy. Some societies will allow the substitution of abstracts, such as the Barbour Collection; some will require the originals. Photocopies are fine. Do not submit originals, as they will likely be destroyed.
  2. If a vital record does not exist, acceptable substitutes can include:
    • Obituaries
    • Deeds
    • Military records, including draft records and pension files.
    • Church records
    • Family Bibles (Be sure to include the cover page. Entries must be made by someone who would have experienced the event. A birth 200 years before the publication date will not be accepted.)
    • Gravestone images.
    • DNA under certain limited circumstances.
    • And more.
  3. Some documents and sources should be avoided except in limited cases. Such as:
    • Family histories and genealogies without citations to sources.
    • Ancestry ThruLines
    • Family trees.
    • Local histories that do not provide citations to sources.
    • Lineage applications from other societies
    • DNA (Unless it meets the society’s requirements.)

Wondering if a source will or will not be allowed? Your first resource is the society itself. Have questions? We’ll be glad to help. Contact Us

Lineage Society

How can I use Civil War records in my lineage society applications?

Even if you’re not applying to a Civil War related lineage society, Civil War records can still help your applications in a few different ways.

  1. They can put an individual in a certain place at a certain time. If an ancestor had to register for the draft or mustered in, you know where they were when the documents were completed. This can be key in building a timeline.
  2. They can document dates and places of death in a time before vital records. If your ancestor died in service, it should show up as part of his compiled military service records. If he died after and was receiving a pension, it would be included as part of the pension to explain why the pension should no longer be paid.
  3. They can document relationships; the births of children; and dates and places of marriage. Pension files are a gold mine of family information. Widows had to “prove” their marriage so that they could get access to their husband’s pensions; they had to prove their children’s births so that they could access to benefits for minors. The person swearing an affidavit of support may be a sibling.

How do you find these records? Many have been digitized and are accessible on Fold3. If they are not, they can be ordered from the National Archives . Happy hunting!


Avoid Common Lineage Society Mistakes: Plan for How You Spend Your Money

Almost no one goes in with a good understanding of the cost of the lineage society application process. That confusion leads people to one of two extremes. Either they assume the process should be free or they spend far too much money buying records they don’t necessarily need. Planning ahead can help you spend your money effectively.

  1. Know from the beginning the process isn’t going to be free. Even if your family saves everything, you’ll have the application review fee (which can be anywhere from $15-$500). Most families don’t keep copies of vital records in the house. Those run around $20 and can be more.
  2. Use the path of least resistance. If your goal is membership and not documenting a specific ancestor, use the easiest to document line. Some societies will allow you to reference paperwork already on file. If you have industrious cousins, that may mean you need to document only three to four generations instead of eight or more.
  3. Don’t order certified copies unless necessary. Sometimes you’ll have to no option but to order the certified copies – especially for recent births, deaths, and marriages. Many older records are available without charge somewhere online. (FamilySearch is a great resource for this.) Save the money.
  4. Know when you’re stuck. Yes, hiring help can get expensive. But your money and your time both have costs. If you’re having a hard time proving a line, ask for help before you spend any more money. Often we get “tunnel vision” when trying to do an application and can end up spending time and money on a line that doesn’t work, while an easily provable line still is awaiting research.

Lineage Society

What does a lineage society application cost?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer to that question. The cost depends on what society you join, where you join that society, and what portion of the lineage you need to document to complete your application.

Smaller societies may charge you only a lifetime application fee of several hundred dollars or less. Essentially, they’re charging you to review the application and to off set their activities fee by a small amount.

Larger, decentralized societies (the Mayflower Society is a prime example) vary their fee by the location you apply. Even though they may send the application to one place to be reviewed, these societies hold their resources locally. As a result, the fee you pay will vary based on local needs.

Larger centralized societies generally have a standard application review fee but will also charge local dues. This allows them to standardize where they can and then still meets the needs of the local organizations.

And then there’s the cost of the documents for your application. (More to follow…)

What does this mean for you? If there’s a budget concern, it’s best to ask about fees going in. Most societies are glad to clarify. They don’t want to shock you – or put in the time only to find you can’t pay the necessary fees to complete your application.

Lineage Society

4 Common Lineage Society Application Mistakes – and how to avoid them

It doesn’t matter whether you’re joining the Dames or the Mayflower Society, lineage society application mistakes happen. But when they do, they can derail the process and leave you frustrated and struggling to finish your paperwork. Know the common errors going and learn how to avoid them.

  1. Know from the beginning this is NOT a free process. At the bare minimum – which almost never happens – you will be paying the application fee, which can run from $20 to several hundred. More often, you will be spending several hundred on certificates and possibly more on research help. There are ways to save money and to be cost effective. (We’ll discuss more in a future post.) Go in expecting to spend some money. It will reduce the frustration of all involved.
  2. Know that you will need to provide documents. Sorry, but the family tree you found on Ancestry isn’t good enough, no matter how many ways it says you’re related to a Revolutionary War patriot. Those trees are hints. They are not what the lineage societies call “proof,” or documentation that supports the assertions you’re making about your lineage with evidence.
  3. Don’t assume just because someone else in the family was a member, you automatically are. Societies have tightened their standards for required documentation over the last few decades, and many older applications do not meet those standards. You may get lucky, but far more often, you’ll need to provide documentation to fill in the gaps. Plan to do the application over. Finding out you don’t need to will be a nice surprise. (We’ll talk about how to use what’s already on file in a future post.)
  4. Make a plan. The process can feel overwhelming, and it’s easy to get confused about what you need to order, locate, or send to the society. Make a plan. And know when and where to ask for help. (We’ll discuss more in a future post.)
Lineage Society

Did Connecticut issue bounty land for Revolutionary War service?

Enjoy a final great question from our inaugural “Tracing Connecticut Revolutionary War ‘patriots'” program.

First of all, what’s bounty land? This finding aid from NARA offers a great brief description. In short, bounty land was a right to “public” land (owned by the state or federal government). It was issued to Revolutionary War veterans as a reward for their service. Some states offered bounty land for soldiers that had supported their cause.

Connecticut was not one of them, although you’ll still sometimes hear claims that Connecticut offered bounty land. What Connecticut offered was land in exchange for damages. This land located in Ohio, called the Firelands or the Suffers’ Lands, was supposed to recompense families who had their property burned by the British. The majority of the claims were not occupied by the original claimants. See the above cited resource at the CT State Library or this profile at Ohio History Central for more details.

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Did Connecticut pay state Revolutionary War pensions?

Another great question from our Revolutionary War program!

While some states – most notably Virginia – paid state level pensions to increase participation in the American Revolution, Connecticut did not. If your ancestor were to receive a pension for his military service from Connecticut during the American Revolution, it was paid by the federal government. The majority of these pensions have been digitized and are accessible with a subscription from Fold3.

Happy hunting!