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.
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?
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.
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:
For any generations that might have them, birth, death and marriage certificates.
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.
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.
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:
The Silver Books and previous applications should be used to document any generations already on file.
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.
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.)
If the spouse the line runs through (the “line carrier”) was married more than once, you’ll need to document all marriages.
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.
Uncited family genealogies and/or local histories should not be used as the only documentation in any generation.
Are you busy trying to prepare an SAR application? Here’s what you need to know.
You’ll need to provide documents for all generations unless there is a DAR application on this line that meets specific criteria.
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.
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.
For the patriot, you’ll need to provide the source of service and documentation of residence in addition to birth, marriage, and death documentation.
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.
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.
Because lineage society membership is based on ancestry, all societies require applicants to document their relationship to the qualifying ancestor. But what does this actually mean?
You’ll need to document the births, marriages, deaths, connections between parents and children, and connections between spouses in every generation back to the qualifying ancestor.
What documents can you use to do so?
For the first three generations (you, your parents, and your grandparents), most societies will require that you provide civil birth, marriage and death certificates. If there were multiple marriages, documentation of those may also be required. (The General Society of Mayflower Descendants requires documentation of all marriages of the person the line runs through.)
Beyond that, requirements depend on the society. After the third generation, The Daughters of the American Revolution will allow the use of church records, probate files, or gravestone images (provided they are “period”) to document birth, marriage or death. Mayflower Society will generally require vital records as long as they exist. As long the source is original – ie. deeds, pension files, probate – it can generally be used in some capacity. Just be aware of what the source actually says: the 1850 census cannot be used to document relationships – as it doesn’t list them!
What documents can you not use?
With some rare exceptions, you cannot use the lineage society papers of another society to support an application in a new one. For example, the Daughters of the American Revolution does not take the papers of the Sons of the American Revolution. (That being said, under certain circumstances, SAR will take DAR’s applications.)
Most societies do not accept older local history books or family genealogies unless they are used in conjunction with original sources.
You cannot – in any circumstances – use family trees or family group sheets. If you have them, find the original sources.