Lineage Society

The Oliver Cromwell – A Connecticut Revolutionary War Source of Service

When we talk about someone having “military” and “patriotic” service in the American Revolution, we generally mean that the individual provided support for the American cause by supporting the American Army. But that wasn’t the only option. Shoreline communities, such as Saybrook in Connecticut Colony, supported the cause by building ships.

The Oliver Cromwell was launched in Saybrook (now Essex) in 1776. It was constructed at the shipyard of Uriah Hayden, located near the site of the present of the Connecticut River Museum. According to the town of Essex, the Cromwell was the largest ship constructed on the Connecticut River to date, and the commission placed Essex at the forefront of shipbuilding in the new United States. In the end, the Oliver Cromwell served three years – and captured nine British ships – before being captured itself in July 1779.

Anyone associated with the construction of the Oliver Cromwell should qualify for “patriotic service” under the guidelines of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution. Hayden himself is already on file with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Those who served on the ship should qualify for “military service.”

If you think an ancestor may have been associated with his shipyard or the ship, there are a few places to start looking for their records:

The Connecticut River Museum has a file containing miscellaneous documents from the construction of the Oliver Cromwell.

The Mystic Seaport Library has reference books on the ship, as well as scattered manuscript items.

The Connecticut Historical Society has some of the vessel’s enlistment records.

Happy hunting!

To learn more:

“Brief History of Essex,” Essex CT (Brief History of Essex | Essex CT: accessed 21 December 2020).

“Oliver Cromwell Launched – Today in History: June 13,” Connecticut History.org, 13 June 2020 (Oliver Cromwell Launched – Today in History: June 13 | Connecticut History | a CTHumanities Project: accessed 21 December 2020).

“Walking Map of Essex,” Essex Historical Society (WalkingMapofEssex.pdf (essexhistory.org): accessed 21 December 2020).

Lineage Society

How do I document a DAR or SAR ancestor from Quebec?

(Partially a repost from May – with a few updates!)

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 requiring that the individual’s “last act” be in support of the Americans.

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

Don’t forget, a line “from Quebec” may actually originate in the American colonies. Many of the settlers in the region of Quebec called the Eastern Townships were what is now called the “Late Loyalists.” These individuals arrived after the American Revolution in search of low cost land and may not have had pro-British sentiments. In fact, a number were American militia soldiers and officers. Do some digging on your Quebec lines. You may be surprised to find one trace back to Massachusetts, New Hampshire or another New England states.

Questions? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

Lineage Society

Researching Revolutionary Service in France

The American Revolution wasn’t just fought in the boundaries of the modern United States. It was truly fought around the world. The Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution recognize that fact by allowing membership based on ancestor’s support of the American cause, no matter where they were located. That includes France.

How did France support the American cause? The country did so politically, militarily, and economically. A treaty was signed between France and the new United States in 1778. A 1936 article indicates 2112 French soldiers died in the support of the American cause. As the US State Department notes, France also kept the Continental Army supplied between 1778 and the end of the War. Ancestors who offered support through any of these efforts would qualify for the Revolutionary War lineage societies.

Where do you begin finding evidence? The Daughters of the American Revolution and the French Society of the Cincinnati both keep extensive records. So to do the publications contained in the National Library of France. It’s worth beginning with this one: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5525402h.texteImage.

Happy hunting!

Lineage Society

Researching African American patriots

African American “patriots” – the term used by the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution to describe individuals who supported the American cause during the American Revolution – are underrepresented among the verified DAR and SAR ancestors.

Why?

  1. Many African American patriots served as Continental line soldiers, as opposed to militia soldiers. This changes where their records were stored. Militias were handled locally; the Continental line records are stored federally. This difference in storage means that someone researching a region rather than a specific name is likely to miss a Continental line soldier.
  2. At least locally in New England, many African American patriots – particularly soldiers – ended up in unmarked graves, due to a combination of systemic racism, poverty, and disability resulting from their long military service. If you’re looking for a gravestone indicating military service, you may not find one. That means the soldier is less likely to be recognized as a patriot.
  3. These lineage societies have had a history of racism, most notably DAR’s 1939 refusal to allow Marian Anderson to use their performance space. They are working hard to address their pasts and fully recognize the service of all patriots. DAR, for example, just announced an initiative to support further research. But, change is unfortunately slow, and much more work is needed to fully recognize the commitment of these men and women.

So, what can be done to change that?

  1. Some of the changes have to be made by the lineage societies themselves. They need to make themselves visible to all communities, just not the ones they’ve traditionally reached. Some chapters are making an effort to do that. However, if you see a need, feel to free reach out. You may be educating a chapter or helping them accomplish a goal that they’ve had and not known how to fulfill.
  2. If you know your ancestry, think about membership. Are you descended from one of these men or women? If so, please think about joining. You’ll be promoting change in a positive way. Even if you’re not interested in membership, please share your ancestor’s story. DAR and SAR both have ways of publicly recognizing the service of patriots separate from membership.
  3. If you don’t know your ancestry, don’t give up! There are active projects working to trace the descendants of patriots, including patriots of color. If you know your family was from a specific region, be sure to connect with the local DAR or SAR organization. They may be able to help.

We’ve only touched the tip of a very complex topic. If you have questions about the application process or DAR/SAR recognition of African American patriots, please contact us. We’ll be glad to share resources, and we’d love to do more posts!

Lineage Society

Common DAR and SAR questions: Does the ancestor need to have my last name?

This questions come up enough to surprise me: do your Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution ancestors need to share your last name?

There’s a simple answer: no. While choosing a qualifying ancestor with your last name is a great way to honor your heritage, you can choose any ancestor in your family tree who meets the qualification requirements for DAR and SAR. And they do not need to be a direct female line or male line ancestor.

Have fun hunting!

Contact us with questions.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR questions: Do all your ancestors need to be married?

Yes, lineage societies have historically required that your ancestors be legitimate – that their parents must be married – and some lineage societies still do.

That being said, the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution are not among them. They require “proof” that the child is the child of the parents, not that the child is the product of the married parents.

If you’re confused, don’t worry. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. If the child’s parents were married, expect to be asked for documentation of marriage. In some older lines, it might be the only way to document the child’s mother, as birth records often only included the father’s name.
  2. If the child’s parents were not married, that should not be an issue, provided that the birth certificate lists the names of the parents. Expect to be asked to provide a note explaining the circumstances, just so the genealogist knows not to look for a marriage record.

Want to learn more about DAR or SAR applications? Read more on our blog.

Have a question we haven’t answered? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR application questions: why hire a professional genealogist?

Do professional genealogists work on applications for the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution? Is there value to hiring a professional genealogist when I can do the work myself?

Yes.

And it depends on your goals.

You can definitely do the work yourself (and it’s a great option if you can and want to) but it’s fairly common to get stuck part way through the process. There’s a relationship you can’t document or a vital record you can’t figure out how to obtain. While the society may be able to help, a professional genealogist may have knowledge or resources the society may not. More than once, we’ve been able to get around brick walls or find a missing document that a local volunteer just couldn’t reach.

And there are occasions where you just can’t do the work yourself. A small child (or grandchild) at home, an ill family member, a busy job are all very valid reasons for not having time to complete an application. DAR and SAR aren’t set up to order almost every single certificate for you and do all the research. We are.

Want to learn more? Check out our lineage society applications page or contact us with questions.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR questions: Will the Sons of the American Revolution help with my application?

Starting a new application can feel a little scary. Both DAR and SAR have built in programs to help, but they look a little different.

You can safely ask for help on your Sons of the American Revolution application from two people:

  1. Your point of contact: This may be the state registrar, the local registrar or someone else. Be aware of two things. First, they may not be able to help. Explain what you’re looking for, and ask if they can assist or if they can refer you to someone who can. Second, if they can help, you need to have realistic expectations. Their job is not to gather all the needed paperwork for your application. They’re simply there to offer advice.
  2. A genealogy assistant: SAR genealogy assistants are able to assist with research in a limited way. Again, they’re not there to do the application for you. But they can help with a hard to prove link or tell you where to look.

In short, yes, SAR will help with your application. Just remember that their job is not to do your application. If you’re not hiring professional help (see our future post), it’s yours. They’re just there to assist!

Have questions? Want to hire help? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR application questions: Grandma’s or Grandpa’s papers

Are you working on your Daughters of the American Revolution or Sons of the American Revolution application? Since Grandma or Grandpa was a member, it’s going to be easy, right?

Maybe.

The answer to the question of “can you use a family member’s papers to join DAR or SAR?” is always yes. But the answer of “to what extent” is going to vary.

Why? Because the standards used by the society have changed since Grandma or Grandpa submitted. They’ve changed in the last two or three years. If the original application doesn’t meet modern standards, you’ll only be able to use it as a hint.

How do you know? Ask for help. You won’t be able to tell on your own. We’d be glad to take a look. Your registrar should also be able to tell.

Questions? Want help. Contact us.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR questions: Indexes

The “SSDI” (Social Security Death Index) or other index seems to have the vital records information you need to make your case for your Daughters of the American Revolution or Sons of the American Revolution application – and it would save you money. Can you use it?

Nope, sorry! While index files were once allowed by DAR and SAR, they haven’t been for the last several years. You’ll need to use the information on the index to order a copy of a vital record instead.

However abstracts with indexes, such as Connecticut’s Barbour Collection and Rhode Island’s Arnold Collection are currently be accepted. This is a common point of confusion, so be sure to discuss in detail with your registrar.

Have questions or need help? Contact us.