John Fox Jr. DAR Library in Paris a couple of years letter - and my first look at the DAR Patriot Index. There he was, my ancestor, Thomas Garrett, listed among those who had fought. One of my favorite genealogy moments!
Fast forward another dozen or so years, and my research is much farther along: my B.A. in history and M.S. in Library Science are under my belt, and I'm employed by the state historical society. Also, by this time, the Patriot Index is now online...and way easier to search in my jammies! I started as many do, plugging in ancestor names to find another eligible branch. I have not given up on the Garrett line, but some of the other research passed down to me about that branch has been flagged in my own research radar. It needs some work, and I'm now very doubtful of the reliability of the research of others.
As soon as Myra confirmed that contemporary Family Bible Records would be admissible in the process, I had a targeted branch to work from. The "contemporary" records in my possession came from my Dad through our great Aunt Mattie Townsend. She was quite the keeper of history! If it had not been for her, and her insistence that the Daniels family research continue with the Daniels line, all would have been lost. Again, the "contemporary" records came from around 1879 and detailed the lineage back to pre-1804 Pennsylvania. That was really my golden ticket. Taking these Bible records and working both directions into Ohio and Pennsylvania, I hit the jackpot, and became spoiled by the great records in these two states.
So big drum roll reveal - my Patriot Ancestor is Daniel Estle of Pennsylvania!
1. Hook up with another member prior to getting involved. They will introduce you to the right folks who will guide you along your journey. They will not do the research for you, but their experience and help can be invaluable. Besides, use the worksheet they give you, but DO NOT attempt to complete the application yourself - that takes the special skill of the Chapter Registrar.
2. Finding the documentation for the most recent ancestors can be the hardest part - my grandmother lying about her age on the marriage certificate, great grandparents' divorce and remarriage, plus faded copies were just some of the fun obstacles encountered. Seriously, finding my own birth certificate was a boatload of fun!
3. The back end of Family Search (using the state wiki level - not name search) was a total lifesaver! They had all of the PA wills that I needed in beautiful clarity, for free, which happened to also name my female ancestor and the relationship to her father - bingo! This can't happen with every ancestor, but depending on the state, the jackpot can be variable - always worth a try prior to ordering documents from local sources!
4. Again, complete as much as you can on your own, without any help, to test your mettle. Even if you're not a professional genealogist, nor have any desire to be such, your research experience can help other members or potential members. I limited my document collection to the worksheet minimums in order to make each direct link as simple as possible. My chapter Registrar, Brenda Hume, then scooped up my docs, did a little extra digging to follow the family through the census, and filled in the actual application paperwork for submission. Dues are paid with submission, not after being verified, so just be prepared for this - and remember - if you messed up, you have another year to get your docs corrected or another ancestor verified. Considering this, it's a good idea to work on a supplemental line while you are waiting on verification. That way, if something bad comes back, you are on your way to submitting another ancestor. Most folks are descended from more than one Patriot, documenting this fact is the challenge. I'm already working on a few supplementals - at least four additional Patriots in the hopper.
5. Ordering the application packets from patriot ancestors through the DAR website has proven to be an awesome resource! I am already working on my mother's line so she can join through another ancestor - not the Garretts - and have found that the DAR supplemental info included information that is helping to solve a much more complicated family mystery involving an emancipated branch of the family. Even the Family Bible Records I used in my research will now be preserved in copy form by the DAR in Washington as a part of my supplemental information - which is pretty awesome. So, mine those records frequently for genealogical clues! They can get pricey at $10-$20 each, but they can be packed solid with great info, and worth the price! If you are unsure of which ancestor packet to order, the local Chapter officials might be able to help with that if you arrange a consultation.
6. Spelling matters! My ancestor's name was Daniel Estle - it's there in his own will and the wills of his children, etc. Unfortunately, the DAR GRS tries to be helpful by lumping all similar sounding name into one standardized spelling. While this sounds like common sense, sometimes, the system does not catch similar spellings to redirect you properly. Plus, the certificate comes back with the standardized spelling, instead of the spelling used by the ancestor. Disappointing, but in my records, and in my DAR pins, I will be using the correct spelling used by my ancestor.
On a personal note, the American Revolution has always been a very close research subject for me. From the same age, when I first learned about DAR eligibility, my personal research interest zeroed in on pre-revolutionary Boston. Why? To this day, I don't fully understand the pull. I was so focused on this research that I could name all of the important players, and events that happened in that area from 1768 to the Declaration. I even used to skip class in college to sit in the library reading newspapers of the day. The very first time I visited Boston, I teared up, seeing it on the horizon as our plane came into Logan - and I picked my hotel based on its close proximity to the Granary Burying Ground which is the final resting place of the Massacre "victims" as well as Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, etc. Ironically, the documentation necessary to join DAR led me to a brick wall breakthrough which I hope to write about more later - my Daniels line, which others had declared was a change from Irish O'Donnells around the turn of the 19th century, is in fact a Massachusetts line of Daniels - No name change - but rather, John Daniels born in Massachusetts - latter part of the 18th century. Is that my pull? Is that what I'm supposed to discover? At this point, I have zero idea which part of MA he hailed from...but with this new found knowledge, and an added incentive of DAR supplemental lines, there is a strong possibility that my research focus is about to head north!
As my membership time grows, I hope to blog more about membership and its opportunities for service....stay tuned!