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

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!

Lineage Society

Avoid Common Lineage Society Mistakes: Know What Documents You’ll Need to Provide

Family trees? Ancestry ThruLines? A family genealogy?

Lineage societies have rules about records you can and cannot submit as supporting documentation. Knowing what those rules are can save you significant time and frustration.

Check with your specific society before proceeding, but here are a few general rules.

  1. If a vital record (birth, death or marriage certificate or record) exists, do your best to acquire a copy. Some societies will allow the substitution of abstracts, such as the Barbour Collection; some will require the originals. Photocopies are fine. Do not submit originals, as they will likely be destroyed.
  2. If a vital record does not exist, acceptable substitutes can include:
    • Obituaries
    • Deeds
    • Military records, including draft records and pension files.
    • Church records
    • Family Bibles (Be sure to include the cover page. Entries must be made by someone who would have experienced the event. A birth 200 years before the publication date will not be accepted.)
    • Gravestone images.
    • DNA under certain limited circumstances.
    • And more.
  3. Some documents and sources should be avoided except in limited cases. Such as:
    • Family histories and genealogies without citations to sources.
    • Ancestry ThruLines
    • Family trees.
    • Local histories that do not provide citations to sources.
    • Lineage applications from other societies
    • DNA (Unless it meets the society’s requirements.)

Wondering if a source will or will not be allowed? Your first resource is the society itself. Have questions? We’ll be glad to help. Contact Us

Lineage Society

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!

Lineage Society

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.

Lineage Society

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.

Lineage Society

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.

Lineage Society

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.

Lineage Society

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.