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How do you document Revolutionary War service for a Rhode Island ancestor?

If you’re in the process of completing an application for the Colonial Dames of America, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, the Society of the Cincinnati, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the American Revolution or one of the other lineage societies for whom an ancestor’s service in the Revolutionary period for qualifying, you may need to document that the service. So, how do you begin with an ancestor from Rhode Island?

Keep in mind that you’ll need to check a variety of sources and not every ancestor will qualify for every society.

DAR’s extensive resources may provide some hints as what’s available. Review their files at https://services.dar.org/Public/DAR_Research/search/?Tab_ID=1. Most societies will not accept DAR’s files – DAR and SAR will provided they meet certain standards – so plan to locate the original source of the documents and provide copies to your society as part of an application.

Starting from scratch? Deb Duay has a wonderful bibliography as part of her “Sources of Revolutionary War Service.” The Rhode Island State Archives and the Rhode Island Historical Society have some manuscript collections. And there’s a new publication in the works, as Jolene Mullen works to expand her town meeting series.

A word of warning: Southern Rhode Island was on a migration or trade route that included New London County, Connecticut and Long Island, NY. You may need to check all locations to full document your ancestor’s service.

Questions? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

Are there other Quebec families that might have Revolutionary War service?

The English families who moved to southern Quebec after the Revolutionary War were loyalists, right? Not all of them.

Late Loyalists, as this group were known, were economic refugees who came to southern Quebec to take advantage of low-priced land. Some were in fact, loyalists. A significant number were not. They were, instead, former members of the colonial militia who had fought in the Revolutionary War for the Americans. They kept that allegiance through the War and only moved north for land. As such, these families do qualify their descendants for the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

To document their lines, the same process used to document “new patriots” must be employed. You’ll need to rely on the record keeping system of Quebec, which had no civil registration until the 20th century. Focus on church and notarial records to document birth, marriage, and death and relationships.

For more information on Late Loyalists, see our article in NGS Magazine.

Questions? Contact us.

How do I document Revolutionary War service for an ancestor from Quebec?

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.

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

Questions? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

How do I document Revolutionary era service for ancestors from Maine?

Do you need to document service for the Daughters of the American Revolution, Society of the Cincinnati, or another lineage society covering the Revolutionary War era? If your ancestor was from Maine, there’s one important factor you need to consider: Maine was not its own colony!

Maine was a part of Massachusetts until becoming a state in 1820. While town meeting records and some other local records are stored in Maine, many of the “colony wide” records – such as military files – are stored in Massachusetts. Deb Duay’s Sources of Revolutionary War Service can provide a good starting point for your research.

Happy hunting!

How do I find Revolutionary War service for an ancestor from Connecticut?

Documenting a new ancestor can be one of the more challenging – but also most fascinating – parts of completing a lineage society application. Many societies prefer that you use an ancestor who is already on file for ease of review. However, most will allow you to add someone if you do not have an established ancestor in your line or you are determined to use a specific person. So, how do you document that individual?

The first step is identifying service that meets the society’s qualifications. A number of societies consider activities around the Revolutionary period to be “qualifying” for descendants of a specific ancestor, including The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, The Colonial Dames of America , The Sons of the American Revolution, The Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Society of the Cincinnati. The requirements for the type of service and the time period during which it must have occurred vary by the society. Read the requirements carefully and discuss with the registrar or your genealogist!

For ancestors from Connecticut, there are some wonderful resources that can assist in your search. Debbie Duay’s “Revolutionary War Service” page lists many of the places in which documentation of an ancestor’s Connecticut service may be found. To determine if an ancestor was an officer, Heitman’s Historical Register of Officers of the Colonial Army may also be of use.

A few additional points to consider:

For those applying to DAR and SAR, the payment of taxes may qualify your ancestor as a “patriot”. However, since Connecticut’s taxes never went straight to the military effort and instead were paid to the town who then sent them on, tax payments are not automatically accepted. Plan to document both that your ancestor paid taxes and where those taxes were sent before attempting to use taxes as a source of service. Tax payment has yet to be used as a source of service, so published resources are few.

The closest point of military activity to your ancestor may not have been in Connecticut. Don’t forget to check the neighboring states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York.

Questions? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

My lineage society says I need a birth, marriage or death certificate. What do I do now?

Whether you hope to join the Daughters of the American Revolution or the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, you’ve probably been asked to provide some birth, marriage or death records or certificates. You don’t have them in the house. How do you proceed?

Here are a few hints to get you started:

  1. You need to start by identifying the exact date and location of the event. Items you already have in the house, such as a family Bible, an obituary, or a death certificate may provide you with more information. If you know the state, check Ancestry, FamilySearch and the archives or library of that state for an index.
  2. Once you have at least an approximate time period and a location, you can begin looking for a record. For pre-1900 records, start by checking FamilySearch. For pre-1950, check the state archives and/or the state health department. Post-1950, the state health department should have copies.
  3. Beware – you may be restricted by processing speed and privacy laws. New York State, for example, generally has a processing time of over a year for state level requests. It’s faster to contact the town where the event occurred (and cheaper than using “rapid” online ordering). If your grandparent’s birth occurred less than 100 years ago in Connecticut, you won’t be able to get a copy unless you are a member of an approved genealogical society. It’s best to be aware of each state’s regulations and best practices.

Questions about a specific state? Want help ordering records? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

What documents do you need to provide for a National Society of the Colonial Dames of America application?

Interested in joining NSCDA (The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, also known as “the Dames”)?

Here’s what you’ll need to provide:

  1. For any generations that might have them, birth, death and marriage certificates.
  2. Alternate documentation for generations prior to vital records. Generally those born or died before 1900. This documentation should include church records, probate files, gravestones, deeds, newspaper articles, or military records. It may include family histories or genealogies, but only with other supporting documentation.
  3. For the qualifying ancestor, you’ll need to document their service if it is not already on file with NSCDA. What qualifies as service depends on the colony. Be sure to ask for the list!

To inquire about NSCDA membership, contact the email address listed on this page. This is a great project to do while you’re on quarantine! NSCDA is still processing applications.

Questions? Concerns? Contact us.

What documents do I need to provide for a Mayflower Society application?

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants – the Mayflower Society – has among the lineage world’s most strict requirements about the documents that need to be provided in an application.

Here are the basic guidelines:

  1. The Silver Books and previous applications should be used to document any generations already on file.
  2. If a vital record could exist for the other generations (ie. the event happened after the state start recording vital records), you need to provide it.
  3. If you cannot provide it, you’ll need to get a “no record found” letter from the office that issues vital records. (That might be the county recorder, the town clerk, the state vital records office, or another office.)
  4. If the spouse the line runs through (the “line carrier”) was married more than once, you’ll need to document all marriages.
  5. For generations where vital records do not exist, you can substitute other documents to document birth, marriage, and death. Probate files, gravestones, deeds, and military records are acceptable options.
  6. Uncited family genealogies and/or local histories should not be used as the only documentation in any generation.

Questions? Contact us.

What documents do I need to provide for a Sons of the American Revolution application?

Are you busy trying to prepare an SAR application? Here’s what you need to know.

  1. You’ll need to provide documents for all generations unless there is a DAR application on this line that meets specific criteria.
  2. For the first three generations, you’ll need to provide birth, marriage, and death certificates for the person the line runs through (the line “carrier”). The registrar may require you to provide certificates for all spouses as well.
  3. For generations 4 and beyond, you’ll need to provide documentation of birth, marriage, and death dates and places for the line carrier. This should not include family histories without citations. If vital records exist, you should plan to provide them. The registrar may require you to provide documentation for all spouses as well.
  4. For the patriot, you’ll need to provide the source of service and documentation of residence in addition to birth, marriage, and death documentation.

Questions? Contact us.

What documents do I need to provide in a Daughters of the American Revolution application?

If you’ve identified a DAR qualifying line, it’s time to start gathering the documents. What do you need to provide?

It depends on what’s already on file. But here are the basics…

Rule #1 – if that generation or individual is already considered “proved” by DAR, do not send any documentation unless you have new information, such as an exact date of death.

Rule #2 – For generations 1-3, you must document birth, marriage and death using vital records (provided they exist) for both spouses. If a record does not exist, get a “no record found” letter from the office where the records should be stored. Be prepared to provided additional marriage certificates if the woman’s name has changed and the long form version of all birth certificates (the one that lists the parents). Caveat: if the death certificate lists date and place of birth and parents’ names, you may not need to provide the birth certificate.

Rule #3- For generations 4-patriot, you must provide some documentation of birth, marriage, death, and the connection between generations. Vital records are preferred and may be required where they exist. If they do not exist, other records are permitted. Deeds, probate files, pension files, and church records can all be used. Family histories without source citations generally cannot. You must document at least one complete date and place (birth or death) for each individual in each generation.

Rule #4 – For the patriot, you must document birth, death, and marriage using the best available sources. If it is not already documented, you will need to document service and residency during the War.

Questions? Feel overwhelmed? Contact us.