RESEARCHING DATA FOR SAR APPLICATIONS
Prepared by the Daytona-Ormond Chapter, Florida Society, NSSAR. The Washington State Society of the SAR expresses its sincere gratitude to the Daytona-Ormand Chapter. Note: Those portions of the text that are not relevant to Washington State have been removed.
Note:The working lineage established above CAN NOT BE USED AS PROOF!
The first step in proving a lineage from the applicant back to the Patriot Ancestor is to read the official rules which may be found by clicking here: SAR.org. You can print this page out for reference or read it online (in which case you should increase the size of the type to save your eyes)!
Don't send in an application without knowing what to send!
To repeat what is in the official rules, some of the most common sources that CAN NOT be used are from the Internet (prints of actual US Census pages and some books from Myheritage.com are exceptions). The working lineage produced above is not proof nor are the many entries on the web such as from the LDS FarmilySearch.org.
The first three generations are normally proved with birth certificates, death certificates and/or marriage licenses - many/most families have these on hand or can easily get them. Note that photocopies are sent with the application to National Headquarters - not the originals. It is always a good idea to keep copies of all documentation forwarded with the application in case questions arise.
The birth certificate should be the type that shows the names of the parents - typically the mother's maiden name is included. Death certificates are normally great proof documents in that they may contain proof covering multiple generations.
The 1930 US Census is the next stop. Even an applicant just old enough to join SAR should have grandparents alive and indexed in the 1930 US Census. Note: When accessing the US Censuses you must be aware that only heads of households are listed prior to 1850, and thus do not provide good genealogical proof for the early days of our country.
When you have located an ancestor(s) in the 1930 US Census, start going back - the idea is to go to the next earlier generation where the family is living together to establish/prove the lineage. When you find an ancestor in the 1930 census, calculate his/her age and then go back to an earlier census where he/she would be a young child (i.e. still living at home). Normally, this can be used to prove lineage.
Keep this up until you pass the 1850 census, before which the census is no longer "every name". You can still use the earlier censuses to figure out where the family was/maybe living.
At this point check the SAR Patriot Index, which has thousands of names of descendants of Patriot Ancestors. If you don't have it, you can order it from Progeny Genealogy.
If this doesn't work, you can try the GenWeb Project. Follow the instructions and try the appropriate county web page and/or use the Message Boards for the surname to post a query to see if anyone else has researched your Patriot Ancestor's lineage.
Another possibility is to use the Find-A-Grave web page. Use the "Begin New Search" feature and see if the ancestor you are looking for is listed. If he/she is listed, the web page can not be used as proof but you can post a request for a picture of the grave, which can be used as proof, or you may be lucky and find one already posted. The "Search" feature will not work well if you are looking for William Brown, but if you have a name such as John "Mentieth" you may have more luck - try it. Note that you can limit your search. Setting the death year to
"Before 1850" will put you in the right, general time frame.
When a prospective member indicates an interest in completing his application there are a couple of basic starting points:
(1) Does the prospective member:
If the answer to any of the above is "YES" then you should start with that lineage.
Note: If you have built or found a lineage back to your Patriot Ancestor, you can skip the "Establishing a Framework Lineage" section and drop down to "Proving the Lineage."
(2) Does the applicant have a Patriot Ancestor in mind? If he doesn't have a Patriot Ancestor in mind, does he know the name of any of his grandparents or, hopefully, one of his great grandparents?
Note:If this is the case , it is necessary to establish some sort of a lineage back to a Patriot Ancestor. This seems to be the hardest part for most applicants and, with the advent of the computer, it can be one of the easiest. You should start with the "Establishing a Framework Lineage" section. If nothing is available you need to start at the "Starting From Ground Zero" section.
This is the toughest nut to crack. I recently had a prospect who said that he had some aunts who were, he thought, in the DAR but that he had lost touch with these branches of his family. I could trace his line back to around 1800 but could not get back another generation. Most of the line would have some sort of notation such as "his parents came from Ireland" indicating that line was not a good prospect to produce a Patriot Ancestor.
In this case about all that could be done was to encourage him to contact his aunt's families and see what he could unearth.
As it turned out, the applicant remembered the town where his aunt died and a Google Search brought up the name of the DAR Chapter there and some e-mail addresses. Contacting the DAR members located the name of his Aunt and her Patriot Ancestor, and a copy of her application was ordered. Even though it was a VERY old DAR application (hence could not be used for proof), it did provide the necessary lineage.
If the applicant has no lineage at all, the best approach seems to be to start with the 1930 U S Census and work backward to the 1850 U S Census, following both the maternal and paternal lines but not pursuing those whose parents were not born in the United States. Once
Establishing a framework lineage for an application is not all that hard. This is not PROVING a lineage (which is a whole lot more involved), but rather establishing a framework from the applicant to the Patriot Ancestor(s). The expression "framework lineage" is used here to indicate it is just that, a framework on which a proven lineage can be built. Building a "framework lineage" is also appropriate when the applicant produces a scribbled genealogy that "Aunt Susie" reluctantly sent him some time ago when he first broached the subject of SAR/DAR to her.
This "framework lineage" may contain multiple lines back to Revolutionary War Patriots as we may not know, at this point, which Patriot Ancestor will be used. This is true even if the applicant has a Patriot Ancestor in mind - that one may not pan out. Remember, the goal is to prove back to one Patriot Ancestor. After that, Supplementals may be used to add other Patriot Ancestors.
The first step in establishing a framework lineage is to see what others have done with those same names. There are a number of Internet sites where people have posted their lineages and these are a great place to start.
The first one to look at, is RootsWeb Family Trees. When RootsWeb comes up on your screen, click on "Family Trees" on the RootsWeb Tool Bar which should bring up the "Search Family Trees at WorldConnect" page. You can start here but a better idea is to click on "Advanced Search" and enter the name you plan to search.
Which name to start with? Actually it doesn't matter, but the easiest one is the oldest direct family member of the applicant that is known. As an example we will us Margaret Herrington (Chapman) Little. We will enter "Chapman" in the Surname box and "Margaret Herrington" (when working with female names always use the maiden name). We can enter her married name in the "Spouse" box if we wish. Click on "Search" and take a look at what comes up. If nothing comes up try other names - the older the better.
There are other sites that you can search in much the same manner. These are listed below:
Familysearch.org. This is the site maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. the LDS Church or Mormon Church.) It is free and works like the RootsWeb site. This site has many names worldwide and may need additional parameters to reduce the number of hits. The simplest is to limit the search to the United States if that is appropriate.
Ancestry.com. Ancestry is a fee based genealogy site.
Once the lineage is back to the Patriot Ancestor, the first step is to check the SAR Patriot Index (mentioned above) to see if the Patriot Ancestor you are interested in has been used by a Compatriot. If so, a copy of the application may be ordered from SAR Headquarters in Louisville, KY. Note: If the information on the SAR Patriot Index is complete, you do not have to actually order a copy - submission of a paper copy of an SAR application with your application is not required but you do have to specify the SAR National Number.
If you do not find your Patriot Ancestor in theSAR Patriot Index, the next step is to check the DAR Patriot Index . If you find your Patriot Ancestor in the DAR Patriot Index, you MUST order a Record Copy - your Chapter Registrar can help you with this. The DAR charges $10 for a Record Copy. Note that you MUST submit a "Record Copy" of a DAR application with your SAR application.
Another possibility is using SAR's Patriot and Grave Index Search. This site does not have any information that may be used as "proof" but it does provide a clue as to where the Patriot Ancestor may have died - especially when making an inquiry through a RootsWeb Message Board.