Earlier, I wrote about Find A Grave and the problem with unsourced facts that are so common online. This does not mean that we don’t do research online, however! I want to tell you about a Lucky Find for me, which started with Find A Grave.
Ruth Ann Smith is my 3rd great grandmother. She was born in 1842 and died in 1881. She married Matthew Gooding Reed. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Reed. Several years ago, I didn’t know a lot about her, and was not having any luck with the wide net search of ancestry, and was getting frustrated. I decided to check out Find A Grave for clues. I use the clues on Find A Grave as a hint to find other sources and facts. (I have since learned a lot more about specific, targeted search tactics online.)
However, when I found the Find A Grave memorial for Ruth Ann Smith, I was greeted with this photo of a stone monument at her gravesite:
(Find A Grave memorial # 46871009 for Ruth Ann Smith, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/46871009/ruth-ann-reed, accessed in 2012 by Mark Cross)
I backed up, hit the reload button, and checked again. Wow! I had never heard of George Soule, but the Mayflower was exciting!
Thus began a long road of research, that I am so glad I took steps on. I found a couple of distant cousins who placed the stone monument at her gravesite. The monument itself is not acceptable as proof for the Mayflower Society, but evidence behind it is. The cousins shared with me some newspaper articles about their placing the monument in Nebraska, and two cousins shared with me a copy of their accepted application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, with membership numbers, that I could use.
From Ruth Ann Smith, I am descended from Solon Reed, and my cousins were descended from siblings of Solon. But I found out I do not need to prove the entire line to George Soule; from Ruth Ann Smith up to George Soule has already been proven, assisted with the copy of the approved membership applications my distant cousins sent me. All I had to do was prove from Ruth Ann Smith down to me! Once I did so, I was accepted into the General Society of Mayflower Descendants! My mom and my sisters have also joined, and some cousins on mom’s side as well. George Soule, Mayflower pilgrim, is my 10th great grandfather. We are looking forward to the 400 Anniversary in 2020!
One cousin also sent me a copy of her DAR application as well. It seems our ancestors had a rather fortuitous marriage; the ancestors of Ruth Ann Smith lead to George Soule, a Mayflower passenger, and the ancestors of her husband Matthew Gooding Reed lead to John Lecky, who fought in the American Revolutionary War! John Lecky is my 6th great grandfather, born in 1744 in Scotland, and since he fought for American Independence, he is a Patriot that qualifies his descendants for membership in either the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) or the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).
I sent the documents to my mom so she could work with the historians of her local DAR chapter to join, and once she was in, I started my application for the SAR, and was accepted.
So, if there are any other cousins out there that are descendants of Matthew Gooding Reed and Ruth Ann Smith, you qualify for membership in BOTH the DAR/SAR and the Mayflower Society! If this is you, contact me and I can help you get started. Similarly, if you are descended from one of the ancestors of either Matthew or Ruth Ann, you may still be related and qualify for membership in one of these lineage societies. If you have questions, let me know.
I want to point out that the stone monument photo on Find A Grave is not the proof I needed. But it was definitely a clue that I could use to proceed! A Lucky Find for sure!