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.

Lineage Society

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!

Lineage Society

Did Connecticut pay supply taxes during the American Revolution? And did paying them qualify my ancestor for DAR or SAR?

Thanks to all who attended our Revolutionary War program this past Wednesday. We received some great follow up questions after the program and wanted to share the answers here.

While some colonies (now states) had taxes that were gathered specifically in support of the War, Connecticut did not. Instead, towns gathered taxes for the running of government as they always had. In some cases, they allocated a specific portion for the support of the Army. You can find out when and where this occurred by reading the town meeting records of the town where your ancestor resided.

The question of DAR/SAR qualifications is a complicated one. When these taxes were paid, it wasn’t stated that the money would be going to the Army. It was allocated afterwards. Therefore, it’s less clear whether someone with loyalist leanings would have objected to paying them. We’re still waiting for a ruling from DAR or SAR on this matter. If you do decide to submit taxes as service from Connecticut, be sure to find a secondary source.

How do you document that your ancestor paid these taxes? You’ll need to access and copy two sets of documents. First, you’ll need to access the section of the town meeting records that indicates the allocation of this money. In most cases, the town meeting records are held at either the State Library or the office of the local town clerk. If you can’t locate them, the State Library should be able to help. Second, you’ll need to access the grand list, the document that indicates your ancestor paid taxes that year. Many have not survived, but those that have are generally in the office of the town clerk.

Best of luck! And if you do submit this, please let us know how it goes.

Lineage Society

I’d like to document another ancestor for the Mayflower Society, but I’m already a member. What can I do?

For most lineage societies, you can document more than one ancestor, provided all ancestors meet the society’s qualifications. That second (or third, fourth, or fifth…) application is called a “supplemental.”

When you submit a supplemental, you can build off of your existing application and connect to the new ancestor by providing the paperwork for the generations which differed from your original line. In some cases, you may be “proving” only one new generation – if both of your ancestors’ grandfathers were in the Revolutionary War. In others, it may be much more. Beyond the fact that you may not need to document the entire line, supplementals follow the same rules as initial applications.

So, why do a supplemental? For most people, it’s a chance to record a bit more of their family history. By putting an additional line “on file,” a member ensures that their family history is documented some place it will be retained.

Lineage Society

DAR’s updated DNA policy: what does it mean for you?

The Daughters of the American Revolution recently announced that they will begin accepting autosomal and mitochrondrial DNA. See and for details. What does it mean for you?

If you can document your entire line back to a qualifying ancestor “on paper,” little to nothing will change. DAR will continue to verify applications in the way that they have always done.

If you have an adoption or other case of “not expected parentage” more than three generations into the line, nothing will change. You can make a case using y-DNA in combination with documentary evidence.

The big change comes if you have a case of adoption or other “not expected” parentage in the first three generations. For those generations, you are now allowed to submit autosomal DNA evidence and/or mitochrondrial DNA evidence in combination with your documentary evidence to make a case. Be aware, this is far more complex than just handing over a list of your DNA matches.

You will need to test or have access to the test kits of the individuals who share enough DNA in common with you to make your case, whether that is a series of likely first cousin matches or a half-sibling. Those individuals will need to sign permission to share their DNA results with DAR and upload their kits to the DAR group on FamilyTreeDNA. You’ll be asked to complete a form with their signatures, an indication of how they connect to your common ancestor and what you are trying to prove by DNA. With that form, you’ll also need to submit documentary evidence.

DNA cannot stand alone. If you choose to use DNA, be sure that all arguments are adequately documented and supported with “paper” evidence. Above all, be sure to obtain consent from your matches. To turn in results without permission is an ethical violation.

Lineage Society

I’ve finished all my paperwork. I’m about to turn in my Sons of the American Revolution Application. What else should I do?

It can seem like a huge relief. You’ve done the hard work of locating your documents, filling out the application, and signing the check. You’re done, right? Technically, yes.

But there are things you can do now that will save you time down the road. Applications do get misplaced, as much as we’d like to claim otherwise. You may decide you want to join a different society using the same line or submit a supplemental application that includes some of the same people. Make the right choices will cut your long term stress.

  1. Make copies of everything. Make a copy of your application form file. Make copies of all supporting documentation. (If you don’t want to keep paper, scan them.) This will save you from hunting down documents later if something disappears.
  2. Organize everything by generation. You are generation 1 in most societies; your parents are generation 2. If you store your paperwork by generation, it’s just a matter of recopying the file, rather than organizing everything again.
  3. Store it someplace you can find it again! This work will do you no good if you misplace your files. Be sure to store your work someplace that you can locate it again.

Need help organizing? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

Lineage Society

I’m working on a Sons of the American Revolution Application. My ancestor’s records aren’t in English. What do I do?

Whether you’re working on a General Society of Mayflower Descendants application or a Society of Cincinnati application, it’s very possible that you’ll run into records that aren’t in English. Most lineage societies are based in the United States. Do you need to have the records translated?

Not necessarily, but it’s a good idea. While many of the larger genealogy departments have staff members that read multiple languages, there’s no guarantee that they’ll read the language your ancestor’s records are in. The smaller societies may only have one person on staff, who may or may not be able to read that language. You can definitely ask, though.

If they say no, you’ll need to plan to have the record translated. A larger organization may be able to find a volunteer who reads the language and can assist. If you need to hire help, a genealogical translator (a translator who specializes in working with genealogy related documents) will be your best option. You can find translators through the American Translators Association or through the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Be aware that genealogical translating is a “buyer beware” market right now. Many genealogists who advertise language skills only have “high school level” training in that language, while many translators who advertise that they work with genealogists may not have the training in history needed to fully work with your documents. Ask questions.

Need help? We offer French translation and can assist in connecting you with other translators. Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

Lineage Society

Paper or not? Do I really need to print out all of the paperwork for my lineage society application?

When you’re used to researching online, organizing your application on paper can seem a little traumatic. Do you really need to print out everything?

Maybe. While societies are transitioning to digital submission, the vast majority aren’t there yet. The first step in your application process should always be to ask what system your chapter/local society uses. Even when societies have a digital application system in place, many local groups aren’t using it.

No matter what, plan to create an organization system to store your digital files. In most cases, a folder for the society that contains a draft of the application and subfolders for each generation with the supporting documents will be “good enough.” Plan to scan and add anything that was “born digital.”

Why take the time? First of all, it’s a great way to ensure you can actually find these papers again. If you want to join a new society or just print out someone’s birth certificate, you’ll have easy access to what you need. Second, it can provide the basis for doing an electronic submission.

Electronic submission currently comes in three forms. The first is a submission system completely hosted by the organization. That system will allow you to upload documents directly to it but won’t necessarily give you a back up. (Hence the digital files.) The second is a shared cloud drive system, in which you’re asked to copy documents to a registrar or historians cloud drive. The third is a “email by generation” system. No matter which system your society uses, you’ll need to have documents organized.

While you may still need to use paper, take the time to scan and organize your documents. You won’t regret it.