Searching for Patriots and Ancestors on the DAR Website

If you think you may have a Patriot Ancestor, or a relative may have joined DAR, then your Registrar for DAR or SAR may suggest you locate a DAR Application that has already been approved. If the application has been approved after 1985, then often that approved application is the only proof you need for any ancestors in your lineage that are on the DAR Application. For example, if your mother joined DAR after 1985, then all you need to join is your mother’s approved DAR Application and your birth certificate proving she is your mother. The same principal can be applied for other relatives that joined DAR, including a sister, aunt, grandmother, great aunt, etc. You merely need the documents linking you to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) on the DAR Application. SAR will call the approved application a DAR Record Copy. This can be searched and downloaded from the DAR website for the reasonable cost of $10. Even if your relative joined before 1985, finding this application is a boon to your genealogy.

What if you are not sure if you have anyone in your family that joined DAR? You can perform a search to find out.

The DAR website has a Genealogical Research Database. Once there, you have options near the top with red tabs for Ancestor, Member, Descendants, and more. This article will focus on these first three.

Ancestor Search

An Ancestor Search will do a search for the Revolutionary Era Ancestor, who may have supported the cause for American Independence. Remember, your Patriot Ancestor need not have served in the military as there are other ways to support Independence, including paying a tax that supported the military. See my earlier post about a Quaker ancestor that qualifies me for SAR membership on a Supplemental Application. A Supplemental Application is when a member finds additional Patriot Ancestors after their Primary Membership has been approved. Any type of approved application will be helpful to you as the lineage is proved.

With the Ancestor Search, fill in what you know, including Last Name and First Name. The red asterisk is not always a mandatory field, as I can find my ancestor with a search for last name only. However, if your ancestor had a common name such as Smith, it will be helpful to fill in more information in more fields. The less information you provide, the more search results you will get. The more information you provide, the narrower your search results will be. Sometimes less information helps you in a preliminary search. Understand that names may be spelled differently on the application than are spelled in your records, or by your current name. Smith could be spelled Smyth, Smithe, or Smythe or other ways as well. Wildcards can be used, such as Smi* which will provide results of not only Smith, but also Smick, Smiley, and other surnames that begin with Smi as the first three letters. If you get many results, the first 25 will be displayed with additional pages you can access at the bottom of the list.

Similar searches with partial names, or differently spelled names, apply to all types of searches on the DAR website.

If you click on the Ancestor’s name, you see their full record, which includes state of service, rank, birth, death, pension number and a description of service, as well as the name of their spouse. The red family tree icon to the right shows their ancestor number, and clicking on the icon reveals all descendants who have been approved as DAR members with this Patriot. Below the spouse and other information is a box with “Associated Applications and Supplementals” and a DAR National Number, and a link to purchase a PDF copy of this application. The other icons list information available, such as a yellow S, indicating Supporting Documentation is available, a lavender D indicating Descendants list available for this member and ancestor, and a purple D indicating Descendants list available for this member but not this ancestor.

Similar links and icons appear on other types of searches as well.

Member Search

A Member Search can be done if you already know the National Membership number of the woman who joined DAR. Perhaps your relative has a Certificate hanging on the wall, or some other document, that indicates her membership number. If you have that information but are unable to locate the Record Copy of her Application, this Membership Number search can help you.

Descendants Search

A Descendants Search helps you locate an individual who is named on the application but is not the Patriot Ancestor. This would mean children, grandchildren, and other generations after the Patriot. These people would be descendants of the Patriot, but ancestors of yourself. The Descendants Search includes over seven million names.

For example, you think your great grandmother may have joined, but you can’t do a Member Search as you have no idea what her National Number was. So, you search for your great grandmother on the Descendants Search. If you don’t find her, try her parents or grandparents.

Searching in the Dark for Ancestors

Some people even randomly do a search for an entire generation of grandparents, great grandparents, or great greats and earlier, hoping that maybe a name triggers a positive search result that some distant cousin may have joined DAR that you don’t know about. This is a little bit of stabbing in the dark, but if the dart hits a target dartboard, you have a winner!

Finding a Winner

If you find a winner in your search, you have a cousin, perhaps distant, that has joined DAR, possibly without your prior knowledge. Now all you need to do is prove your connection to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). For example, if you and the member are first cousins, your grandparents are the Most Recent Common Ancestors and you only need to prove your lineage to your grandparents and theirs. If you are second cousins, you only need to prove your lineage to your great grandparents. Sometimes a DAR Record Copy does little other than prove a common generation or two beginning with the Patriot. That’s still making progress, you don’t need to prove that Patriot Ancestor was a Patriot, the DAR Record Copy has already done that. You need only prove your lineage to the MRCA on the application. This may be a single generation, or many generations. But some work is done, and the Patriot Ancestor is identified, which is the hardest part of your search.

Pre-1985

If the application was approved by DAR after 1985, then that Record Copy will likely be all the proof you need for the lineage on that Record Copy. If the application was approved before 1985, then the lineage is not considered proved by current standards of DAR or SAR. That’s still a good find; use the pre-1985 Record Copy as an outline or rough draft for your own application. Work with your Registrar to determine what evidence you need as documentation. Often the DAR Record Copy even lists the documentation used, such as BC (Birth Certificate) or a census record. Find the original documents and submit them to your Registrar.

Sometimes a search that feels somewhat random actually finds a Patriot Ancestor, which may be your gateway to joining DAR or SAR! Happy hunting!

Follow Instructions

KEEP CALM AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS Poster

I learned the lesson of “follow directions” the hard way. More than once.

Several years ago, I was putting together the necessary paperwork to join some lineage societies. I wanted to get my mother into the Daughters of the American Revolution and myself into the Sons of the American Revolution. That common lineage also had an ancestor that was a Mayflower passenger, so we wanted to join the Mayflower Society also.

However, one generation was rather difficult. My great grandparents got married, had several children including my grandmother, then got divorced in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. He remarried only once. She remarried and then her second spouse died after only two years, then she remarried again. This generation needed to be proven for DAR/SAR as well as the Mayflower Society.

I had the death certificates for my ancestors and all spouses. I had the marriage records for each union. And I had either a birth certificate, sometimes a delayed record, or other records to prove the birth and parents’ lineage. Now, all these records are important to prove the correct identity and relationships of the people involved in that generation. For example, my great grandmother was born Mary Elliott, she married and became Mary Reed, was remarried and became Mary Boyd, then with her third and final marriage became Mary Clark. Now, the task is to prove that the death certificate for Mary Clark and the delayed birth certificate for Mary Elliott is for the same woman. The various marriage records prove that chain of name changes. Often, if a woman married only once, the proof is much simpler. I had three marriages, and three names change to prove! Alas, I had done the due diligence, performed all the necessary research, and had the connections needed.

One thing was missing. I did not have the divorce record for that first marriage. It was the only marriage dissolved by divorce in this generation. Divorce records are held at the county level, rather than the state level. I had done a diligent search in many places. The difficulty was locating where the divorce was filed. During the Great Depression, they moved around seeking work, and the divorce could have been filed in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado or New Mexico. That’s five states. But with divorce records held at the county level, it expanded the search to 533 counties! Although I could likely narrow the search to the panhandle and surrounding areas, it still was a very wide search.
Some of the counties had technology that allowed me to submit an online search request or to make the request by email. Some counties had no email. Some counties had a website that included only an address and phone number.

Some counties had no working voice mail, or a constantly full mailbox. Some would do a search for free, some charged as little as $5 but would only do the search after I sent a letter request with a paper check by USPS. It was a daunting challenge, and after searching over 50 counties I still had no idea where the divorce records may be found.

Then, at Genealogy Jamboree, I attended a Round Table discussion about joining SAR/DAR and the records needed. It was led by a woman who was a DAR Registrar, so she helped women join the DAR by putting together a successful Membership Application and helping them assemble all the necessary research. I cannot remember her name, otherwise I wold publicly thank her. I explained my dilemma. She interjected that divorce records are NOT needed! I said I thought I needed to prove everything. She said no, you only need to prove the lineage. Divorce records are not requested or needed. Then she said the words that stopped me in my tracks. “Follow Directions!” The DAR directions do not ask for divorce decrees. The birth certificate of my grandmother proved who my great grandparents were. The delayed birth certificate of my great grandmother proves the generation preceding her. The marriage records prove that Mary Elliott and Mary Clark are the same woman.

“What are you waiting for?” she asked. “You can join SAR now! Submit your Membership Application, stop waiting! Remember, Follow Directions!”

Wow. Follow Directions. Simple. I learned that lesson in high school, also the hard way.

In high school chemistry, our teacher surprised us with a test on day one. She said that with natural gas Bunsen burners, potentially dangerous chemicals and experiments of the chemical interaction variety, we needed to be tested on day one. She passed out the test. We were flabbergasted, as we thought we knew nothing about chemistry yet.

She said “read the instructions, and follow directions” out loud. More than once. The test had numbered questions, which doubled as instruction steps. Number 1 said “read all instructions before continuing.” Great, whatever, I was in a hurry to prove this test was useless. Number 2 said “write your name in the upper right corner.” Number 3 said “write the date in the upper left corner.” Number 4 asked what is 144 divided by 12? Number 5 asked if oxygen was a gas, liquid or solid. Etcetera, etcetera, the questions continued. Before I flipped the paper over for page two, I noticed some of my classmates were done. Wow, I thought, I must be really stupid or slow, I should read faster.

On the flip side, Number 19 said “answer the first three questions, stop, and put your pencil down.” Number 20 repeated, “did you read all instructions before you started?”

Wow. Lesson learned. Again, the hard way. I did more work than was necessary because I refused to follow directions. In chemistry class, and in my Membership Applications for SAR and the Mayflower Society. This lesson can be applied to almost anything. A recipe for cooking, assembling an item in parts in a box, learning a new software app.

This lesson was learned well by the time I was enrolled in ProGen. This subject came up more than once, and my exclaiming “Follow Directions” was repeated by our mentors, and proclaimed as an excellent lesson in genealogy.

Now, years later, I am myself a Registrar for my local SAR chapter. And I find myself issuing the same basic instructions repeatedly. “Follow Directions.” It is simple. And doing so makes life so much easier. Be patient, don’t get in a rush to finish fast, and Follow Directions. Do the same in all things genealogy.

I still haven’t found that elusive divorce decree. But it was not needed to join SAR or the Mayflower Society.

Virtual Beginning Genealogy Class November 14, 2020

I am teaching a Beginning Genealogy class with the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS). With COVID-19 currently changing plans almost everywhere, this class will be virtual. This means online only, and anyone anywhere can attend this class on your computer! Class if FREE!

November 14, 2020 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM Pacific Time.

Sign up by emailing beginner@scgsgenealogy.com

You can also check out my Events page at Story Finder to find out more.