Lineage Society

New resource goes online: Fold3 has begun digitizing the final pension payment vouchers

When a Revolutionary War veteran died, the heirs were eligible to claim the pension’s last payment. In order to do so, they generally had to provide support of the veteran’s date of death and their connection to him. This could come from statements from the local probate court, civil registration, and more. Because the final pension payment vouchers include the veteran’s date (and often place) of death and family relationships, they are valuable resources for Revolutionary War lineage society applications.

The index cards have long been available on Fold3. A star on the card indicated that the file could be obtained from NARA. See for details.

More recently, Fold3 has begun to digitize the files. Georgia and Delaware can now be searched on the site. If you don’t have a personal subscription, Fold3 can be accessed from some libraries. Ask your reference librarian for details.

And if you’re willing to do a bit of digging, you may be able to access the records you need for free. Many of those final pension payment voucher images have been attached to the catalog entry at NARA.

Lineage Society

I need vital records from Connecticut for a lineage society application. How do I start?

“How do I order the vital records for my application?” is one of the most commonly asked questions in lineage society research.

Here’s what you need to know for Connecticut records:

  1. There are limitations on access. Anyone can purchase a copy of a death or marriage certificate, although certain information may be blacked out. Birth certificates are closed for a hundred years, except to certain family members and to members of an approved genealogical society.
  2. You will be asked for identification. If you order a record, be prepared to submit photocopies of your genealogy society card (if needed) and your photo identification.
  3. You will need to follow instructions for payment. Some clerks do not allow checks. Follow instructions.
  4. Where you will get the record will depend on time period:
    • If you don’t know the location, pre-1850 records have been generally been transcribed and are part of the Barbour Collection. There are versions of this collection on Ancestry, American Ancestors, and FamilySearch. If you can’t find the records you need, be prepared to check all three. Ancestry and American Ancestors have different towns included. There are a few towns missing from Barbour. See for details.
    • Pre-1900 records have generally been digitized and are available on FamilySearch. Search the town in the catalog to access the records.
    • Post-1900 records (the exact date depends on the town, check FamilySearch to confirm) can be requested from the town clerk or city health department for $20/copy. Members of an approved genealogical society can view (but not photograph) the record without charge.
    • Don’t know the location? You can place a request with the state vital records office (–Home).

Rule of thumb: FamilySearch first and then the town. State only when all other options have been exhausted.

Lineage Society

Can I use a county history for a lineage society application?

We’ve all seen them in our research – the beautifully compiled 19th century family history that includes profiles of prominent people in the community. They list our ancestor’s parents, grandparents, and more. Can we use them as a source for a lineage society application? Not alone.

There are a few questions we need to ask when we’re considering the use of a source for an application.

  1. Where did the information come from? Was it from the child, who was likely to know the names of their parents, or the neighbor, who did not? For most county histories, we don’t know.
  2. What purpose does this document/source serve? Remember “Who’s Who”? The county histories are often called “brag books” for a reason. The profiles were added to make the subjects look good. What does that mean for their accuracy?
  3. Is there someone or something verifying their accuracy? If an ancestor lied on a pension application, they may end up losing their pension. Was there any consequence for lying here?

In looking at these questions, we have a source with information of uncertain origin, which may or may not be accurate, and which was likely shaped to make our ancestors look good. Without even looking at the contents of the text, do you think the county history is as a source is reliable as a source?

The short answer: it might be. Your ancestor may actually have the history being represented in the “brag book.” But there’s an equally good chance he or she lied about their past, hid something untoward, or just didn’t share the whole story. Check – and be prepared to use the county history only with a second source.


New Year’s Resolution to finally do that lineage society application?

You know you qualify for the DAR, the Mayflower Society, or another lineage society and have always wanted to join – even though you never seem to get there. Is one of your resolutions to make this the year? Here’s how to get started.

(We’re assuming you know your qualifying ancestor or a family member who joined.)

  1. Contact the society to see what’s already on file. (Please note: if you are considering membership in an invitation only society, please refrain from making a request until you have become a candidate.)
  2. Search your home for any birth, death, and marriage records you might have. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need to provide them for at least you and your spouse; your parents; and your grandparents on that line.
  3. Order your own certificates if you cannot locate them. They’re usually not available online due to privacy concerns and can be hard for someone else to order. Don’t know how? Records are usually held by the town or county clerk where you were born or married.
  4. Decide if you’d like to do your own application; if you want professional help; or if you’d prefer a mixture. Most lineage societies are set up for you to do your own application. DAR, SAR and GSMD can all offer some degree of help with locating a difficult to trace ancestor or getting a specific record. If you’d like extensive assistance with an application, you generally will need to hire professional help.

Have questions? Contact us.


My application has been verified. What documents do I need to keep?

After a crazy year, many of us want to start 2021 with a clean slate. That means sorting through and discarding papers. If you’ve had a lineage society application verified in 2020, you can discard some of your paperwork but not all.

Here’s a list of what you should keep (and why):

  1. A copy of the verified application: Your verified application can come in handy in multiple ways. If you do a supplemental for the same organization, you’ll need to be able to refer to the original application including notes made by the genealogist. If you have a family member join, they may need your application for the same reason. Finally, some societies take verified copies of the applications from other societies as supporting documentation. Saving the papers can save time and money.
  2. A copy of the supporting documentation: Are you sure you’re just interested in one society? Many ancestors will qualify the applicant for multiple societies. A Mayflower passenger would qualify a female applicant for at least four societies. If you save the paperwork, you’ll have what you need for the next application.

Here’s what you can discard:

  1. Preliminary applications. These won’t be necessary for supplementals and will be easy to rebuild if needed.
  2. Drafts of the application (unless you have the computer file). Discard paper copies of the application draft. The verified application “replaced” them. If you are thinking about doing supplementals, you may want to save the computer file of the most recent draft. It will save you some typing when preparing supplementals.
  3. Any random notes. We tend to save everything when preparing the application. Once the packet has been verified, you can discard the tree you may have filed out for a registrar or any other random notes.

One last suggestion: store everything where you can find it again. Having this material in an easy to locate file folder can save you significant time and stress.

Lineage Society

The Oliver Cromwell – A Connecticut Revolutionary War Source of Service

When we talk about someone having “military” and “patriotic” service in the American Revolution, we generally mean that the individual provided support for the American cause by supporting the American Army. But that wasn’t the only option. Shoreline communities, such as Saybrook in Connecticut Colony, supported the cause by building ships.

The Oliver Cromwell was launched in Saybrook (now Essex) in 1776. It was constructed at the shipyard of Uriah Hayden, located near the site of the present of the Connecticut River Museum. According to the town of Essex, the Cromwell was the largest ship constructed on the Connecticut River to date, and the commission placed Essex at the forefront of shipbuilding in the new United States. In the end, the Oliver Cromwell served three years – and captured nine British ships – before being captured itself in July 1779.

Anyone associated with the construction of the Oliver Cromwell should qualify for “patriotic service” under the guidelines of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution. Hayden himself is already on file with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Those who served on the ship should qualify for “military service.”

If you think an ancestor may have been associated with his shipyard or the ship, there are a few places to start looking for their records:

The Connecticut River Museum has a file containing miscellaneous documents from the construction of the Oliver Cromwell.

The Mystic Seaport Library has reference books on the ship, as well as scattered manuscript items.

The Connecticut Historical Society has some of the vessel’s enlistment records.

Happy hunting!

To learn more:

“Brief History of Essex,” Essex CT (Brief History of Essex | Essex CT: accessed 21 December 2020).

“Oliver Cromwell Launched – Today in History: June 13,” Connecticut, 13 June 2020 (Oliver Cromwell Launched – Today in History: June 13 | Connecticut History | a CTHumanities Project: accessed 21 December 2020).

“Walking Map of Essex,” Essex Historical Society (WalkingMapofEssex.pdf ( accessed 21 December 2020).

Lineage Society

Ever dreamed of finding a secret stash of your family’s papers?

If your ancestor was a member of a lineage society, that dream may be more real than you’ve imagined. While it’s not the case for every society, many store the applications and supporting documents of members – sometimes back to the society’s founding. Those older documents can be a true goldmine, containing family records that may not have survived to the present day. Applications can provide useful hints.

So how do you access them?

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants allows you to request the older verified applications via email. See GSMD Library – The Mayflower Society for details. (Check to make sure the application isn’t on FamilySearch first!)

SAR allows members of certain lineage societies to request application copies and documents. See Genealogical Copy Services – National Society Sons of the American Revolution ( for details.

DAR allows older applications to be purchased using the Genealogical Research System. Go DAR Genealogical Research Databases. Put in your ancestor’s name into the descendant search, and then click on the appropriate entry in the search results. On the next page, click on “Purchase Associated Record Copy” and follow the directions.

Happy hunting!

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!