Lineage Society

New resource goes online: Fold3 has begun digitizing the final pension payment vouchers

When a Revolutionary War veteran died, the heirs were eligible to claim the pension’s last payment. In order to do so, they generally had to provide support of the veteran’s date of death and their connection to him. This could come from statements from the local probate court, civil registration, and more. Because the final pension payment vouchers include the veteran’s date (and often place) of death and family relationships, they are valuable resources for Revolutionary War lineage society applications.

The index cards have long been available on Fold3. A star on the card indicated that the file could be obtained from NARA. See https://www.archives.gov/research/military/army/final-pension-payment-vouchers for details.

More recently, Fold3 has begun to digitize the files. Georgia and Delaware can now be searched on the site. If you don’t have a personal subscription, Fold3 can be accessed from some libraries. Ask your reference librarian for details.

And if you’re willing to do a bit of digging, you may be able to access the records you need for free. Many of those final pension payment voucher images have been attached to the catalog entry at NARA.

Lineage Society

I need vital records from Connecticut for a lineage society application. How do I start?

“How do I order the vital records for my application?” is one of the most commonly asked questions in lineage society research.

Here’s what you need to know for Connecticut records:

  1. There are limitations on access. Anyone can purchase a copy of a death or marriage certificate, although certain information may be blacked out. Birth certificates are closed for a hundred years, except to certain family members and to members of an approved genealogical society.
  2. You will be asked for identification. If you order a record, be prepared to submit photocopies of your genealogy society card (if needed) and your photo identification.
  3. You will need to follow instructions for payment. Some clerks do not allow checks. Follow instructions.
  4. Where you will get the record will depend on time period:
    • If you don’t know the location, pre-1850 records have been generally been transcribed and are part of the Barbour Collection. There are versions of this collection on Ancestry, American Ancestors, and FamilySearch. If you can’t find the records you need, be prepared to check all three. Ancestry and American Ancestors have different towns included. There are a few towns missing from Barbour. See https://libguides.ctstatelibrary.org/hg/genealogyindexes/Barbour for details.
    • Pre-1900 records have generally been digitized and are available on FamilySearch. Search the town in the catalog to access the records.
    • Post-1900 records (the exact date depends on the town, check FamilySearch to confirm) can be requested from the town clerk or city health department for $20/copy. Members of an approved genealogical society can view (but not photograph) the record without charge.
    • Don’t know the location? You can place a request with the state vital records office (https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Vital-Records/State-Vital-Records-Office–Home).

Rule of thumb: FamilySearch first and then the town. State only when all other options have been exhausted.

Lineage Society

Can I use a county history for a lineage society application?

We’ve all seen them in our research – the beautifully compiled 19th century family history that includes profiles of prominent people in the community. They list our ancestor’s parents, grandparents, and more. Can we use them as a source for a lineage society application? Not alone.

There are a few questions we need to ask when we’re considering the use of a source for an application.

  1. Where did the information come from? Was it from the child, who was likely to know the names of their parents, or the neighbor, who did not? For most county histories, we don’t know.
  2. What purpose does this document/source serve? Remember “Who’s Who”? The county histories are often called “brag books” for a reason. The profiles were added to make the subjects look good. What does that mean for their accuracy?
  3. Is there someone or something verifying their accuracy? If an ancestor lied on a pension application, they may end up losing their pension. Was there any consequence for lying here?

In looking at these questions, we have a source with information of uncertain origin, which may or may not be accurate, and which was likely shaped to make our ancestors look good. Without even looking at the contents of the text, do you think the county history is as a source is reliable as a source?

The short answer: it might be. Your ancestor may actually have the history being represented in the “brag book.” But there’s an equally good chance he or she lied about their past, hid something untoward, or just didn’t share the whole story. Check – and be prepared to use the county history only with a second source.

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 (sar.org) 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!