Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sources for Lineage Application

I have just finished a supplementary application for NSDAR.  It's actually two applications, because the fathers of a man and his wife served in the Revolution - since only one generation is different, it's just as easy as not to prepare both together.  One of these men will be a new Patriot - no one has ever filed on his service - and I'm the first to file on the other Patriot through the child who was my ancestor.  NSDAR has become much more exacting particularly in documenting a new Patriot or a new child of a Patriot. Provided the applications are accepted they will be my 9th and 10th Patriots.

This Blog is not really about the men who served in the Revolution, it's about the number of different types of records I used for documentation and where and how I accessed them.  In the case of these applications, I had never filed on this family line which is that of my paternal grandmother, so I had some eight generations of proof to find!  All of my other applications have either been on ancestors documented by other applications for several generations, or there were very good printed genealogies to use.  I had no help in this case from either of those.  I did access some rather unusual and varied sources, so I just thought I would list them here.  In some cases, I was simply lucky [the serendipity of genealogy] but others required some intensive digging, and lots of use of the U.S. Postal Service, to locate.

I used the usual birth certificates.  However one was a "delayed" birth certificate obtained some years after the birth - another is my own set of dual birth certificates.  I was legally adopted by my stepfather, therefore the birth certificate of record has him as my actual father and my surname as his.  Luckily, my mother had saved a copy of my original birth certificate showing my birth father - a document that technically no longer exists, and cannot be obtained.

I also have a copy of my adoption decree should questions ever arise about my dual birth certificates but only because my mother saved a copy.  To get information on an adoption in the state where that took place requires a court order.

I used death certificates.  Two of these had incorrect parents for the deceased.  In one case a son had given the information for his aging widowed father and appeared to have known little or nothing about his family.  The other situation was a second wife late in life and across the country who had probably been told little about her husband's family.  In both of these cases I had to provide other sources for the parents' names. In one case, a social security application had the correct names - another was too far back for that, but census records were helpful, showing the man living with his parents as "son".

Multiple marriage records were used - I found books in print of transcribed county records, but I also obtained the copies of the listings from the county marriage books and even a copy of a father's permission for his daughter to marry  I wrote the county courthouses to obtain these copies. In one instance, a marriage was recorded in town records both in the home town of the bride and the groom - found in Vital Records in print from New England towns as many of these are available now as ebooks.

The funeral home in the county where many members of my family were buried in the 20th century, has all their records since 1917 and in most instances, the accompanying obituary from the newspaper.  A copy of their records was the only documentation I found giving the birth and death dates of my paternal grandmother who died at age 34 of pneumonia, many years before the discovery of antibiotics and many years before I was born.  Her twin sister arranged the burial so I felt sure she was as accurate as any living person at that time, in giving the information.

I did use census records for substantiation in several instances:  for approximate dates of birth, especially the 1900 census; for family structure; for residence location.  Since these families moved a lot, I actually used at least one example from every census 1790-1920, except for 1820 when it is missing for the county where the families were located.  In this case, a local town history described the family arriving there that year.

Newspaper obituaries are always a great find, particularly for ancestors that lived in the 19th century and many states away.  A museum in the hometown where some of this family lived for two generations was very helpful in providing obituaries. I didn't know this museum existed until I found the name and address for it on USGenWeb.org - the museum doesn't have a website.  A letter of inquiry revealed that they did have an obituary file.

My contact at the museum above did not explain that they had also published several softbound indexes that I found at the Family History Library while I was at RootsTech this year.  One of those indexes led me to a Petition and Letters of Administration on a man and his wife - the first place I've found their death dates.  These documents unfortunately have not been microfilmed.  I wrote the county clerk with the book and page reference from the index and after receiving an answer, I was able to get copies not only the Letters of Administration but the probate files. The Petition listed all their children as heirs. Exactly what I needed for the proof linking the generations.

One of my grandfathers in the chain of ancestors was once a member of the Latter Day Saints.  He received a Patriarchal Blessing from one of the Elders in 1846.  Not only was this an interesting document, but it stated the date and place of his birth in 1803 and listed the names of his parents.  I obtained a copy of the Blessing from the archives at the Family History Library only because I could prove he has my ancestor - not even members can obtain copies unless they are descendants.  I wonder - will the person at NSDAR Headquarters checking my papers ever have seen such before? I believe it was WorldVitalRecords.com that had the LDS publications alerting me to the fact that this man had received a Blessing.

From the 1770's to the 1830's this family lived in five states.  In order to document the residences and the locations from which the soldiers served, I prepared a Time Line with support from microfilmed church records, census records, and both town history and vital record books found online everywhere from Ancestry.com, Archive.org, AmericanAncestors.org [the NEHGS website] and Google books.  The same places also had books listing Revolutionary Soldiers that I was able to access and print page copies.

Although I did find my "new" Patriot listed in a book on the Massachusetts soldiers, I also found a record of his service in an unusual place.   The book of transcribed records from Christ Church in Pepperell, Massachusetts, had some puzzling entries, i.e. a son whose birth was listed twice, not unusual if a child had died as an infant.  However, I felt sure from other records that this couple, David and Sarah Avery, had sons named Daniel and David - not two Davids as had been transcribed - and Daniel was my guy.  I ordered the microfilm of the actual church records and upon reading it - yes, indeed the names were Daniel and David.  In the old script, much alike, but not really the same.   However, there were other surprises in the Christ Church records - the date the mother was accepted as a member was recorded, and several of the older children were listed as baptized on the same day soon after her acceptance, indicating when the family likely settled in Pepperell.  Also the mother was dismissed from membership to go to Jaffrey [New Hampshire] where their son Daniel, my ancestor, would marry - nicely tying together that move.  Then - at a later date and said to have been compiled by surviving members of the unit - was a list of those who had gone to Bunker Hill during the Revolution and fought gallantly in that service and honoring those that died in that battle.  The list included David Avery - my ancestor - who had fought and lived.

David Avery was the father of the groom - Lemuel Sargent the father of the bride.  Lemuel had left a very nice will naming his married Avery daughter.  I was able to obtain reasonably priced digital copies of that New York will through an excellent online service found at a site called sampubco.com. Lemuel Sargent's service had previously been proved to NSDAR but I discovered from a town history the fact that he had served as a soldier from two different states - the older application had provided only one.  The same article listed his previous residences and his wife, her parents, and their children with some of their spouses.  I did find rosters in complied books of Revolutionary soldiers, listing this man in service exactly as described in the town history.

This journey of preparation has taken about nine months, since I became aware of the LDS Blessing which was proof of the lineage from father to son that I had not found any other place.  I had known both ancestors served for several years, but I was missing the proof of that one generation, and as a result had not really worked on obtaining the necessary copies for many of the facts involved.  It has been an interesting journey discovering the family of a grandmother I never knew.  And an exercise in perseverance....