4 common reasons why your ancestor is no longer considered qualifying by the Sons of the American Revolution or Daughters of the American Revolution

Has your ancestor been “red lined” by the Sons of the American Revolution or the Daughters of the American Revolution? Most people have two questions when it happens: what will it do to my application, and why did it happen? The first is straight forward. While the line can no longer be used for new membership to DAR or SAR, it will not impact the membership of existing members. The second is a little more complicated.

Here are four common reasons for which your ancestor may have been “red lined”:

  1. Service cannot be documented by sources that meet current standards. In the past, the societies permitted local histories and even family records to be used as “proof” that someone served. That’s no longer the case. Now, original sources from the period or transcriptions of those records are generally required. If such a source cannot be found, the line will be closed for future applicants. Don’t worry – if you happen upon a source later, the ancestor can be revisited!
  2. The ancestor has been found not to meet the “last act” policy. The policy, so named by the DAR, requires that the “last act” of the ancestor be in support of the Americans. If an ancestor was found to have changed their loyalty, the latest act that can be documented determines their eligibility. If you have a Long Island (NY) ancestor, be aware this is a common problem.
  3. The ancestor’s service cannot be connected with their residence. This issue comes up most commonly with Continental Line troops, which could be recruited from a large area of the state. Documenting residence is key to proving that the soldier is your ancestor.
  4. Same name. When the society started, applicants often assumed the person with their ancestor’s name and Revolutionary War service was their ancestor. They had no way to check details. As a result, service is now getting “red lined” because it’s for someone else of the same name. If you’re concerned about your ancestor’s service, check to see if it’s in the right area for your ancestor and if your ancestor is the right age to have served in the role. An 18 year old is not going to have governmental service; a 68 year old isn’t going to be serving as a private.

Most ancestors can be placed back on the active list by resolving the issue for which they were red lined. Some may be impossible to document or be truly in violation of the last act policy. It’s worth looking at all your options.

If you need help resolving an AIR or have questions about verifying service, contact us.

Where else can I find sources of service in Connecticut records?

We’ve talked about military records, the Connecticut Archives, office holding, and more. Where else can you find sources of service?

In one place many people think they’ve already checked… town meeting records. Town meeting records don’t just record who was elected to hold what office. They also can include who has donated money or purchased supplies for the militia, who has sworn a loyalty oath, and more. While office holders have been abstracted, these other sources of service often have not.

To locate the town meeting records, the town clerk is the best place to start. In most towns, they still hold the records. If they do not hold them, call the Connecticut State Library. Still can’t find the minutes? In a small number of towns, they’ve been transferred to the local historical society.

Was your ancestor a Connecticut minister during the American Revolution?

If so, his sermons or other activities in support of the American Revolution may be considered “qualifying service” for a Revolutionary War lineage society. A Washington Post article details such a sermon by Samuel Sherwood, the pastor of Norfield Congregational Church. Nathaniel Bartlett of Redding actually joined the Revolutionary Army as chaplain.

How do you provide “proof” of their service? If there was a public statement of belief, it may appear in the church records. Many Congregational church records were microfilmed by FamilySearch and can located using the catalog and a place name search. Some sermons were republished and can be found in propaganda reference texts. Those clergy who served as military chaplains may be listed in a publication entitled American Chaplains of the Revolution.

If they are a “new” ancestor, plan to document residence as well. Happy hunting!

So, you want to join the Daughters of the American Revolution?

Does July 4th have you thinking about your Revolutionary War ancestry – and the family story that you were eligible for the DAR? Is it time to finally do something about it?

Here’s what you need to know to get started:

  1. If you’ve already researched your family tree, identify an ancestor who is likely to meet their qualifications. An ancestor who was aged between 18-45 during the War often had military service; an ancestor between 45-65 may have had civil or patriotic service. Check DAR’s GRS to see if an ancestor is already on file. As our blog post explains, you’ll need to use the information it provides with caution.
  2. To connect with DAR, visit https://www.dar.org/national-society/become-member/membership-interest-form and fill out the “Membership Interest Form.” The Society will generally connect you with the closest chapter to your mailing address. If the local chapter isn’t a good fit, you are welcome to join another chapter.
  3. Once you’ve connected, the registrar will help you check to see what information is already on file for your line and what you’ll need to provide. You may or may not be able to use a grandmother’s application.
  4. You’ll next gather the documents for the “first three.”
  5. You’ll then gather any documents needed for other generations. Keep in mind, vital records are preferred where they exist. Other sources can be submitted when they do not. Stuck? If you’d like to do the research yourself, DAR offers help programs. They are not set up to do the full applications for you. That’s where we come in!
  6. Once you’re sure that you have everything together, you’ll provide it to the registrar, who will prepare the application, ask you for the fee and a signature, and submit.

Who was Private Cuff Liberty?

In 2020, the Daughters of the American Revolution launched the E Pluribus Unum Educational Initiative in order to increase awareness of under represented patriots, including indigenous, African American, and female patriots. Connecticut’s African American patriots are currently named in some of their publications, including Forgotten Patriots. Yet, there is much more to their stories.

According to the Compiled Military Service Records available on Fold3, Private Cuff Liberty served in the 6th, the 4th and 2nd Regiments of the Connecticut Continental Line. The pattern – particularly the placement in Captain Humphrey’s segregated company of the 4th – was common among African Americans serving on the Continental Line. He enlisted in 1778 and was discharged in 1783. He later applied for and received bounty land.

Outside of his service, was the history of Private Liberty? According to a Hartford Courant article, he was enslaved by William Ward of Middletown and manumitted in 1776 after purchasing his freedom. The same article indicates that he lived in Middlefield parish until his enlistment. These manumissions are now online and should be accessible by using the FamilySearch catalog to search the Middletown deeds (affiliate access only).

Where did he go after the War? As of right now, we don’t know. He registered his bounty land in 1800, indicating that he lived at least that long. It would be helpful to know on what property he paid taxes (the records of which are still at the Middletown town clerk)- any land sales might indicate next steps.