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Where Were Your Ancestors on July 4th, 1776?

Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on July 1, 2013 in Ask Ancestry Anne

Question: How do I prove my ancestor was in the Revolutionary War so I can join the DAR or the SAR?

Answer: A variation of this question shows up in our Ask an Expert mailbox on a regular basis. And with July 4th a few days away, it seems like a perfect time to answer this one!

DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution , and SAR, Sons of the American Revolution, are two lineage societies that recognize descendants of people who served or help the patriot cause during the American Revolution.

You may have examined some SAR applications in U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889–1970, or spent some time searching Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books (152 Vols.).

So if you think you do have a Revolutionary ancestor, what’s next?

I’ve never applied myself, so I consulted with a friend, Kathleen Cogbill Warr, who has helped many would-be daughters and sons in their quest for DAR or SAR membership. She gave me these useful tips:

  1. Contact your local chapter and work with the chapter registrar, who will be up to date on the newest rules for applicants and can help guide you through the application process.
  2. Sketch out the line between you and the ancestor you’ve identified as your patriot. Remember, it has to be in your direct line, and adoptions don’t count.
  3. You will need proof to connect each generation between you and your Revolutionary ancestor. Another person’s tree doesn’t count as proof; you need documentation.
  4. However, you can “piggyback” off proven lines. If your second cousin has already joined, you can prove your connection back to your shared great-grandparent and use that connection to join yourself.
  5. Make sure your generations make sense. If a father died before a child was conceived, that won’t pass muster.
  6. You don’t necessarily need proof of marriage for a couple, but you do need proof of parentage.
  7. Even if you don’t have a patriot you know, or you haven’t proven one, attend a local chapter meeting. You can network with DAR/SAR members who can offer you advice and helpful information.
  8. Read the instructions! You might have what you need to be successful, but putting it in the right format is half of the process.

You can find out more about becoming a member of the DAR on their How Do I Become a Member? page  or about joining the SAR on their Who Can Join? page.

Happy Fourth of July and Happy Searching!

 

 

About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.

34 comments

Comments
1 BEEJuly 2, 2013 at 6:33 am

My ancestors still had almost 125 years to go before they arrived on these shores from Eastern Europe. My husband had ancestors who fought for Independence, but others who had been living here for almost 125 years in New Amsterdam, were boarding ships headed to Canada!

2 John TurbevilleJuly 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm

The Turbeville family name has been in America for over 350 years and I too have been researching my family genealogy through Virginia, NC, and SC, and Texas, but the majority is found in South CArolina. I’m currently working on discovering a tie between MY Turbeville family line into the town Turbeville, Sc founded by Michael David Turbeville.

3 PBradyJuly 3, 2013 at 8:37 am

Charles Brady was an infantryman with the 3rd VA Continental Line; William Pile was 1st LT with Hugh Stephenson’s Maryland & Virginia Rifle Regiment. Both would have been in New York with Washington. John McMahan served with VA militia and Humphrey Keyes provided ferriage service at Keyes Ferry, VA, to the Grand Cause :-) It is tricky to document the women, but believe Humphrey’s daughter, Lucretia, was behind the Cause… she would later marry Wm Pile. I am SAR and will be thinking of these ancestors as we do color guard at the local CAR (Children of the American Revolution) pancake breakfast. I’ll also be thinking of my Quaker (Cox) ancestors who, because of their religion, would not serve.

4 rachel jeffriesJuly 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

when you say direct line what if its your grand mothers mother mothers father type thing? are you still qualified for dar?

5 Ancestry AnneJuly 3, 2013 at 10:15 am

Rachel, in a word yes! Direct line can be through any variation of males and females. Your grandmother’s mother is your great grandmother. Your grand mother’s mother mothers father is your 3rd great grandfather and that is in your direct line. Your 3rd great uncle is not.

6 CSMujahidJuly 3, 2013 at 10:30 am

It’s nice to see some shared info on the DAR & SAR. I know that many on Ancestry think they will track down their patriot ancestors. While records on Ancestry can be used for some things, I am delighted that you mentioned that family trees are not acceptable as proof of blood lineage for these organizations. It’s hard for some to accept the facts that without documentation a family tree is just a bunch of names. I also encourage all those interested in pursuing membership in either the DAR, SAR, or CAR to contact either their local chapter or the national web site who can put them in contact with people who can help.

7 Ancestry AnneJuly 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

And while an unsourced family tree is not proof, it may be a clue that will guide you to proof. So they should not be ignored in your search. Also, trees may have sourced within them the proof you need. But a family tree by itself is not sufficient proof. And reaching out to the organization is excellent advice.

8 CharlesJuly 3, 2013 at 11:21 am

How about looking at my aunt’s application. I saw medallion once and would like to see the data submitted. probably 50 years ago

9 Deb HalbachJuly 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Thanks for posting the link to the DAR records – I didn’t know that Ancestry.com had them available – I can’t find them listed anywhere when I do a search!

What other documents/databases are on Ancestry that aren’t easily found that we should know about?

10 WandaJuly 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I am DAR it took over a year to prove my line, it was challenging but great fun. Luckily I found a cousin (on Ancestry that I had never met) who lived in my homestate of Kentucky that had already done some great work that gave me leads. HOWEVER, getting the actual documents that PROVED the line was challenging (again but great fun like National Treasure). My big word of advise is BE PICKY with what you link to your line, just like any journey one wrong turn can send you way off base. I am so proud of our family that helped birth a nation. Happy Birthday to the United States of America and thank you to all that helped and supported our journey. Thank you Ancestry.com as well you make the search much easier.

11 Tammy VanderMolenJuly 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I’ve been working on this off & on for a while now (many years). I’ve seen family trees on Ancestry that show SAR applications / memberships within what appears to be my family tree (going back to Isaac Taylor / George Taylor of VA, from Ireland), but not all of the documentation to go with it. Lots more work to go I know.

I look forward to the day I can provide the proof and join. Hopefully now that I’ve retired from the Military I will be able to work on it more consistently.

Good luck to everyone who is working towards finding their Patriot!

12 JimJuly 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I found out my wife can become a member of the DAR because we found some of her ancestors were members. The issue we are having is that her great-great grandmother doesn’t seem to “exist”. We have found her on her parents Census paperwork and found her marriage certificate. But I can not find any trace of a birth certificate or death certificate tying her to the previous ancestors. We are at a total loss. Any help on how to move on from here?

13 Cathy KnutsonJuly 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Keep digging. It took several months to PROVE my line. My ancestor was a previously un-documented daughter of the patriot. Fortunately we were able to find a court record where she and another un-documented daughter and their spouses “signed-off” on inheriting the family farm that went to her brothers. The farm belonged to my patriot! It’s funny. I know more stories about family members who have been gone for more than a century than I do some living ones!

14 Lenore JustmanJuly 3, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I can trace 5 generations to the Revolution but its no help as my 3rd and 4th great-grandfathers were Thomas and John Freeman respectively, whose rented farm was the site of part of the Battle of Sartatoga. Ten members of the family retreated with the British to Quebec where they ran into a smallpox epidemic. Only three of the. family survived, including Thomas, who was my grandfather’s great-grandfather.

15 AnnJuly 3, 2013 at 6:10 pm

My maternal ancestors are all proven Revolutionary soldiers and Confederate soldiers. My paternal ancestors arrived from Ireland just in time to be enumerated in the Union Civil War Draft.

Very different research requirements for my 2 primary lines.

16 Leslie CordellJuly 3, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Is there a time when you respond American Indian ancestors ?

17 SusanJuly 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm

DAR has volunteer genealogists who will help you establish your lineage. We have a fabulous database and may already have the information you seek. Log on to the national web site as http://www.dar.org and go to membership. We will be happy to help you.

18 Johnie Sue Kaczynski RobertsJuly 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I too, am in the process of joining the DAR but having one heck of a time proving a father-son relationship (Vachel Dillingham as the father of Archibald) which ties me to my patriot , Col. Frederick Hambright.
Vachel married Sarah Hambright, dtr. of Col. F.H. All were from the York, SC and Cleveland Cty., NC area. The lack of birth and death certificates before the 20th century has made it extremely difficult. I’ve been working on it for almost a year but will keep trying as it means a lot to me.

19 Frances Combs LundyJuly 3, 2013 at 9:54 pm

I had a cousins SAR number and I visited the SAR Headquarters in Louisville, KY, they were so helpful and ran copies of all of his documentation for me. Does the DAR accept that or does each piece have to be a certified copy? I have certified copies of my birth and my Mothers. My cousin and I had same grandmother, so all the rest is exactly the same info as his.

20 D PooleJuly 3, 2013 at 10:41 pm

In reply to Tammy VanderMolen #11..I looked in the DAR Patriot
Index and found 3 listings for Issac Taylor that already had applications approved….and 9 for George Taylor…could any of these
be your ancestor? They were all from Va. and already approved. I did
not list dates here but will be glad to help you.
I have the DAR Index Books if you need more information.

21 Diane WrightJuly 4, 2013 at 2:40 am

My ancestor Aaron Preston was born in 1741 in Connecticut. His town death record in 1780 indicates that he died of smallpox, a prisoner in Carolina but no further information is available from the town. He is not listed as serving with the CT troops in any of the records I have looked at but there is a link on Ancestry to a microfilm indicating that he served with the CT 4th Regiment but when I click on that hint it does not take me to the page (out of over 700 pages) on the microfilm with his name. I have looked through about 150 pages of this microfilm–and the names repeat again and again–but I can not find his name. No one has ever claimed this ancestor for the DAR or SAR before. His widow did not claim a pension. I would love to see where his name is on the microfilm as that is apparently the only record that he served. Any help would be appreciated.

22 Beverly Stone ViscardeJuly 4, 2013 at 9:05 am

I have four great grandsons. From them I am working on a ten generation chart, which takes me to the mid 1700s. I have found several family members on my maternal and paternal side that have applied and been granted membership into the DAR and the SAR. The documentation stops at that point. Can either of these organizations help further my search? How does joining help me further my searches? I will be contacting them also, but would appreciate any feed back . Thanks.

23 Gail AndersonJuly 4, 2013 at 9:50 am

But what constitutes proof? I have ancestors born on the frontier. They don’t have birth certificates!

24 Lynda AveyJuly 4, 2013 at 11:45 am

I too am a member of DAR. I have been doing genealogy for many years before The information was on The internet. If you live where there is a Mormon Church they usually have a great genealogy staff and can be very helpful if you are are a member or not. My first attempt getting into a national society was with tne United Daughters of The Confederacy. If you have an ancestor who fought for The South in The Civil War and have The documentation this is a great group also. After getting into The UDC I had The courage to try for The DAR. These organizations have resources and knowledge that you may not have access to. So, if you are interested in history and your family tree, don’t give up because you don’t have all The information because there is always someone that can help and give you new ideas. These are great groups to meet people with your same interests and they do great work in The communities they are in, especially for our VETS.

25 deborah mulqueenJuly 5, 2013 at 6:14 am

Many people are missing out on the Colonial Dames. I,m looking into a 5 th grandmother who was born approximatly 1770 in York Pa. A Quaker so family legend has said. The Colonial Dames are a wonderful organization. Check it out.

26 annbarnesJuly 5, 2013 at 8:29 am

i live in baltimore md my family on my mothers side is from Vrigina my grandmother was named willieanna byrd grandfather was named floyd byrd.

27 Jerry Paul WaughJuly 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm

$275.30 a year x 10 years $2753.00 and so on for years —- Stupid , Crazy , Silly , way to Expensive … I exist and really doesn’t seem practical or prudent … No matter , my ancestors ; I was born and will die … Good Luck , in your endeavors ! I don’t know where I came from but I know where I plan to go and then all questions will be known … Blessings always , Jerry

28 LindseyJuly 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Not sure what Jerry is referring to. DAR dues are not $275.30 per year. Nor are SAR dues.

29 Terry BriggsJuly 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

I want to thank Anne for her July 1, 2013 article providing guidance on applying for membership in the SAR, DAR and this also applies to Children of the American Revolution (CAR) and Sons of the Revolution (SR). As the Genealogist for the California SAR, an SAR Chapter Registrar for 10 years and a CAR Society Registrar for 6 years, I thought Anne’s “useful tips” were very appropriate. If you are interested in membership in these organizations, contact your local Chapter/Society registrar early on as they can provide you information, advice, guidance and direct you to sources that may simplify your research and documentation efforts toward a successful membership application.

30 Erinn SwanJuly 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

What if you have a direct ancestor who is already a member of the Daughter of the American Revolution or a sister of a direct anscestor. One who has applied and already passed away. Or a ancestor who is a Son of American Revolution. what do you about this. It is a direct line. It may be a cousin or uncle or Aunt but not a second or third cousin. What doIknow there is documentation and I have seen them on list while studying my geneaology. What do I do first.

31 Mary Ann DunwoodyJuly 9, 2013 at 3:14 am

Two of my ancestors (father and son) were in the Revolutionary War and have been listed in DAR for a while. The son, Samuel Dunwoody, was 1st Lt in Army; father was eligible due to helping army with supplies, etc., I think. What is the best way to find out which lady or ladies applied for their memberships using my ancestors and which lines they descend from so I know where I tie in? What if the woman(en) is/are now deceased? How much information is the DAR willing to give a prospective member? A friend in our local DAR chapter tried to help me ask DAR a long time ago, but what we received wasn’t of much help.

32 Ruby MitchellJuly 14, 2013 at 8:31 am

My comment is of a personal nature as I have ancestors in Virginia and North Carolina. So far I have gotten back to 1805, with my great, great grandfather George Washington Mitchell, Sr.. I know several of his sons were in the civil war, there are pictures in Stuart, Virginia library of the reunion around the turn of the century. Would this help with DAR? Also as you are a Mitchell as well are we possibly related? Just curious.

33 AlejandraperezJuly 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Dear home house yes by buy ask

34 LauraJuly 20, 2013 at 10:25 am

Perhaps you can pass on to Ancestry.com’s records department that there is a bit of a flaw in their enhanced views of the SAR records. Using the basic viewer, a user can forward to the next page of the record to see the inside of the application (since SAR records are multiple pages). Using the enhanced viewer there is no way to forward to the next page and it is the second page that provides the best information in these records since it shows the generational tracings.

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