Three Must-Find Sources for Mayflower Applications

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has the same document requirements as the Daughters of the American Revolution, right? Wrong. Here are three sources you must find as you’re working on your application.

  1. The Silver Books entries for this line: DAR and GSMD both require you to use what’s already on file, but that information is stored in different locations. GSMD uses the entries from the Silver Books. It’s a good idea to review them when you’re starting out to be sure your line makes sense and is believed to be accurate. There’s a lot of incorrect information out there. You do not need to make copies. The historian will add the details (or make them available to you to add) when your application is prepared.
  2. Vital records: The Daughters of the American Revolution only (currently) requires vital records for the first three generations (applicant, parents, and grandparents). The General Society of Mayflower Descendants requires vital records for the entire period they were legally demanded. Some historians may ask for records from an even earlier period in which vital records were recorded but not required by law. If a record cannot be found, be prepared to get a no record found letter from the clerk, recorder, or archives.
  3. Additional marriages: DAR only requires documentation of the marriage that produced the child and any that may have caused the woman’s legal name to change. GSMD expects all marriages for the person the line runs through (line carrier). Some historians may ask for all marriages for the couple. Be prepared.

5 Sources to Avoid Using for Mayflower Society Applications

Are you home researching for fun? While now is a great time to start working your application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants – and you might even get a 2020 join date if you apply now – there are a few sources you should avoid.

  1. Family trees and pedigree charts: We see a lot of these when doing Mayflower applications! Unfortunately, they’re not considered “documentation” of your Mayflower line, as they really just tell us that someone thought you were related to Mayflower passenger. They don’t tell us where that information came from. Treat them like hints and go find the original source.
  2. Ancestry ThruLines: It’s exciting to get a notification from Ancestry DNA that you might be related to a Mayflower passenger. But don’t turn it in as proof. ThruLines uses a combination of DNA and family trees to identify possible common ancestors. As a result, it has the same issues as family trees.
  3. Unsourced family genealogies: Have the same last name as a family who traveled on the Mayflower? You must be related, right? Not always! Some older family genealogies linked together unrelated people of the same surname so they could claim Mayflower ancestry. Don’t assume they were right. Find the documents to check.
  4. The 1850 census: This is a common issue with a lot of lineage societies. The 1850 census doesn’t list how people in the household were related, so it can’t be used to “prove” parent-child relationships.
  5. Daughters of the American Revolution applications: I’m not really sure why this question comes up so often, but no, GSMD does not take DAR applications, even if your DAR ancestor is in the GSMD line. The only society besides DAR that takes DAR applications is SAR. Use the citations from the DAR application and find the original sources.

Happy hunting!

I just found a Mayflower passenger in my tree. How do I join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants?

Step one: slow down! Unfortunately, a lot of people want to be Mayflower descendants. So there are a lot of wrong trees.

Your next step is to check the older generations and see if they’re accurate. You can likely do that for free at your local library. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or connected family groups) publishes a collection called the Silver Books, which compiles all the known information on the first few generations of Mayflower descendants. Some go up only to five generations. Others – in progress – may go much further. If your line doesn’t match what’s in the book, it’s likely not correct. (There may be people missing from the Silver Books, but that chance isn’t high.)

If you’ve confirmed the first few generations, your next step is to see what Mayflower has on file. Yes, there’s a fee – but it’s cheaper than buying a bunch of certificates you won’t need. We discussed Lineage Match in a previous post.

And then it’s time to contact the historian in your state and begin ordering what you need…

Staying Home? Here’s how you can work on your lineage society application!

Being housebound doesn’t mean that you need to stop working on your lineage society application. Here are five things you can do to keep your application process moving:

  1. Decide which societies you’d like to join. There are a lot of lineage societies out there. We’ve discussed a few of the more popular, but there are others that are very active. Does your hometown’s founders’ group sound like fun?
  2. Identify a line and check it against what the society already has on file. Many societies have a way to check their previously verified applications so you can determine how much of the line you’ll need to document.
  3. Order the vital records (civil registration) that you’ll need to complete the application. They always take a few weeks to arrive anyway. Order them by mail now, and you’ll be ahead when things get started again.
  4. Contact the society you’re interested in. Most societies require you to work with a historian or registrar. The Mayflower Society currently has a multi-month queue to get historian assistance in some states. Get in line now.
  5. Review your other sources and decide if you need help. Finding the process of ordering the records overwhelming? Need help making a parent-child connection? Most genealogists are still working. Now is the perfect time to reach out!

Is your Daughters of the American Revolution application ready to submit?

Do you think you have all the documents you need to “prove” your DAR application on an established line?

Here are a few things you need to check:

  1. Does any referenced information meet current standards? For your patriot, that means there must be a date and place of birth, a date and place of death, a spouse, and residence information. There must be a source for any service. The last is especially important. Old applications tend not to have it.
  2. For the first three generations, do you have birth, death, and marriage certificates for both spouses? These certificates need to be “long-form” (ie. name the parents) for the person through whom the line runs. Remember, if needed, you might be able to submit only a death certificate.
  3. Do you have vital records for other generations if they exist? DAR is increasingly requesting all vital records that might exist for a line.
  4. Have you documented one date and place (birth or death), the connection between spouses, and the connection between parents and children for all generations from the fourth back to the patriot? This documentation cannot come from a family tree!

If you can answer yes to all four questions. You might be ready to submit. If not, you have work to do!

Money Saving Tricks for Daughters of the American Revolution Applications

One of the most common points of panic about DAR applications is the cost. With vital record certificates running up to $30 a copy, an application to the Daughters of the American Revolution can get expensive quickly. But some careful planning can save money. Here are a few questions to consider:

Is the information I need already on file? DAR does not require you to resubmit documentation for information it has already validated, provided it meets current standards. Have someone who is comfortable “reading” the DAR system review what you need to submit before you start ordering. It can save hundreds.

Is that vital record required? As of March 2020, DAR permits submission of the death certificate to document birth if the death certificate includes the date and place of birth and the parents’ names. It’s an easy way to save the $20-$30 cost of a birth certificate.

Is there another way to get a copy? Not everything has to be ordered from the state vital records office. Town clerks, county recorders, and other local officials may have some leeway in the fee, and often turn around records much faster. FamilySearch has digitized many early vital records and has them available for free on their website.

Think before you order! The cost of the application will be much more manageable, and you’ll have money for suplementals.

5 Sources to Avoid in Daughters of the American Revolution Applications

Once you’ve documented the “first three,” the use of civil registration (vital records) is recommended but not required by the Daughters of the American Revolution. As you get further back in time, they don’t always exist. You’ll need to substitute other sources.

Here are five you should avoid:

  1. Family trees: Just because you found it on Ancestry does not mean it’s true! DAR does not accept family trees, pedigree charts, or any of the other variations on family records. Most don’t indicate the source of their information, and they are prone to error. Treat them like hints – and go find the original documents.
  2. Family histories without citations: That wonderful family history that traces your family all the way back to the American Revolution will not be allowed if it doesn’t explain where the information came from. There’s too great a risk that an inaccurate story has been added to the mix. Again, treat it like a hint.
  3. The 1850 census: Because it’s the first census listing everyone in the household, applicants love to submit the 1850 census as “proof” of parent-child relationships. The only problem is that the 1850 census doesn’t indicate how people in the house were related. That child could be the child of the adult – or his or her niece or nephew, visiting for a while. If you’re going to use the 1850 census, make sure your argument is supported by another source.
  4. SAR applications: Yes, the Sons of the American Revolution does in limited cases accept Daughters of the American Revolution applications to “prove” lines to SAR patriots. Contrary to what you may here, this policy is not reciprocal due to tighter DAR standards. If your family member applied to SAR, ask for their supporting documentation so that you can supplement it and apply to DAR. Their application won’t help.
  5. Grandma’s DAR application: DAR standards have tightened dramatically over the last few decades. DAR does allow an applicant to reference what information is already on file with the society instead of providing new documentation. But just the fact that Grandma was once a member will not be good enough. What she provided will need to meet contemporary standards. Instead of looking just at Grandma’s application, have someone check what is already on file, so that they can tell what you have to provide.

Don’t read this to mean the DAR application process is scary. It isn’t! But you need to pay careful attention to what documents you turn in and why.

Getting Started with the Application: DAR’s “1st Three”

Riverview Cemetery, Essex, CT

You’ve contacted the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter, explained that you’d like to join, and are ready to start the application. The chapter registrar has told you that you need to document the “first three.” What does that mean?

These are the generations for which civil birth, death, and marriage records are most likely to exist and thus are held to different standards. DAR, like many lineage societies, counts the applicant as generation one, their parents as generation two, and their grandparents as generation three. In asking the applicant to document the “first three,” DAR is asking the applicant to provide birth, marriage, and death certificates where applicable for their generation, that of their parents, and that of the grandparents through whom the line runs.

Thankfully for applicants, DAR currently permits the use of a loophole. If a death certificate lists parents’ names, date of birth and place of birth, a birth certificate does not currently need to be provided. (Expect that to change as guidelines tighten.) For the time being, it can allow the applicants to save the cost of a few certificates.

But you’ll still need to find birth and marriage for living generations and death and marriage for those deceased. How do you do that?

It’s going to depend on the location. Some states, like New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, store records on the town level. Others, like Wisconsin, store them on the county level. Consult the individual location for guidelines.

Feeling overwhelmed? You can bring in help. Contact Charter Oak Genealogy for details.

I have two residences. How can I keep active in my society?

Whether you’re a college student active with the Daughters of the American Revolution or an adult involved with the Colonial Dames wintering in a different state, it can be hard to stay active with your society when you’re just not local. That doesn’t mean you need to give up the benefits of membership!

Most societies have an option for allowing you to join more than one branch of their organization. It may be referred to as associate membership, as it is in DAR, or affiliate membership, as it is in the Colonial Dames. While this form of membership generally does not allow you voting privileges in the second branch of the organization, it gives you the right to participate in events and activities.

You joined the society for a reason. Associate and affiliate membership can allow you to keep enjoying the benefits of your society, even when you’re far from home.

Benefits of Membership: Networking

The most common excuse I hear for not joining a lineage society is “It won’t help me.” After all, a lineage society is just retired ladies having tea once in a while, right? What’s the benefit to someone who isn’t their age and doesn’t think tea is a fun social activity?

That image of lineage societies couldn’t be more wrong on several counts. First of all, age. While some lineage societies do have a minimum age – usually eighteen or twenty-one – there is a wide range of ages in most societies. Local groups may tend towards a specific age, but if you don’t match it, there’s often a group with a different age demographic a town or two over. Before dismissing a group as too young or too old, do a little research. Second of all, activities. Tea does still happen. But so too do cemetery clean ups, school volunteer days, and much, much more. While there is some truth to the retired ladies drinking tea, you may also find a group of 20 somethings out volunteering at a community event.

So, what does that mean for you? With a bit of research, you can find a group that meets your goals. That may be finding a new network in your new home town; finding a group of friends after college; or something else. And the best part – if you have to move or start over, the society will be waiting in your new location.