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.

Three Must-Find Sources for Mayflower Applications

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has the same document requirements as the Daughters of the American Revolution, right? Wrong. Here are three sources you must find as you’re working on your application.

  1. The Silver Books entries for this line: DAR and GSMD both require you to use what’s already on file, but that information is stored in different locations. GSMD uses the entries from the Silver Books. It’s a good idea to review them when you’re starting out to be sure your line makes sense and is believed to be accurate. There’s a lot of incorrect information out there. You do not need to make copies. The historian will add the details (or make them available to you to add) when your application is prepared.
  2. Vital records: The Daughters of the American Revolution only (currently) requires vital records for the first three generations (applicant, parents, and grandparents). The General Society of Mayflower Descendants requires vital records for the entire period they were legally demanded. Some historians may ask for records from an even earlier period in which vital records were recorded but not required by law. If a record cannot be found, be prepared to get a no record found letter from the clerk, recorder, or archives.
  3. Additional marriages: DAR only requires documentation of the marriage that produced the child and any that may have caused the woman’s legal name to change. GSMD expects all marriages for the person the line runs through (line carrier). Some historians may ask for all marriages for the couple. Be prepared.

5 Sources to Avoid Using for Mayflower Society Applications

Are you home researching for fun? While now is a great time to start working your application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants – and you might even get a 2020 join date if you apply now – there are a few sources you should avoid.

  1. Family trees and pedigree charts: We see a lot of these when doing Mayflower applications! Unfortunately, they’re not considered “documentation” of your Mayflower line, as they really just tell us that someone thought you were related to Mayflower passenger. They don’t tell us where that information came from. Treat them like hints and go find the original source.
  2. Ancestry ThruLines: It’s exciting to get a notification from Ancestry DNA that you might be related to a Mayflower passenger. But don’t turn it in as proof. ThruLines uses a combination of DNA and family trees to identify possible common ancestors. As a result, it has the same issues as family trees.
  3. Unsourced family genealogies: Have the same last name as a family who traveled on the Mayflower? You must be related, right? Not always! Some older family genealogies linked together unrelated people of the same surname so they could claim Mayflower ancestry. Don’t assume they were right. Find the documents to check.
  4. The 1850 census: This is a common issue with a lot of lineage societies. The 1850 census doesn’t list how people in the household were related, so it can’t be used to “prove” parent-child relationships.
  5. Daughters of the American Revolution applications: I’m not really sure why this question comes up so often, but no, GSMD does not take DAR applications, even if your DAR ancestor is in the GSMD line. The only society besides DAR that takes DAR applications is SAR. Use the citations from the DAR application and find the original sources.

Happy hunting!

Is your Daughters of the American Revolution application ready to submit?

Do you think you have all the documents you need to “prove” your DAR application on an established line?

Here are a few things you need to check:

  1. Does any referenced information meet current standards? For your patriot, that means there must be a date and place of birth, a date and place of death, a spouse, and residence information. There must be a source for any service. The last is especially important. Old applications tend not to have it.
  2. For the first three generations, do you have birth, death, and marriage certificates for both spouses? These certificates need to be “long-form” (ie. name the parents) for the person through whom the line runs. Remember, if needed, you might be able to submit only a death certificate.
  3. Do you have vital records for other generations if they exist? DAR is increasingly requesting all vital records that might exist for a line.
  4. Have you documented one date and place (birth or death), the connection between spouses, and the connection between parents and children for all generations from the fourth back to the patriot? This documentation cannot come from a family tree!

If you can answer yes to all four questions. You might be ready to submit. If not, you have work to do!

What documents will I need to provide to join a lineage society?

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.

Need help documenting a line? Contact us.