My first experience with the Daughters of the American Revolution was at the very beginning of my family research. As a matter of fact, the DAR was there to help me solve the very first mystery that drove me crazy for weeks about my great-great grandmother Eliza.
I had no idea that Eliza even existed. She died at the young age of 24 in 1872 in Rosamond, Illinois (population 205), and before vital records were required by the state. It wasn’t until I found a tattered letter in the bottom of my mother’s files where I read the story of the early death of Eliza. The letter also mentioned the cemetery where she was buried, but that was 132 years ago and a lot of time to erode the etchings on the oversized headstone.
When I called the county’s chamber of commerce, they gave me the name of a local man who was the caretaker of this small but mythical cemetery. Upon returning my phone call, he first shuffled some papers and immediately confirmed that he did have a record of Eliza being buried at the Rosamond Cemetery in 1872. In fact, he explained to me how the DAR spent time in 1962 recording every headstone in the cemetery and it was the only record he had with an index of older graves. 1962 may sound like yesterday, but every year that goes by is another year for the outside elements to wear away the script on the headstone. And 50 years later, her marker is barely legible.
What the DAR did to record a 90 year old headstone is monumental to my family research today.
The Daughters of the America Revolution is a truly amazing organization with dedicated volunteers and a commitment to preserving our American History, including mine. And best of all, our family was lucky enough to have a Patriot that fought in the American Revolution. I was able to document this Patriot, apply to the DAR, and successfully be accepted as a member within a month of my first contact.
Based on what I have learned about the process of applying to become a member of the DAR, here are some tips I can offer up for a successful outcome.
- Visit the national Daughters of the American Revolution website to verify if your Patriot has already been documented. If your Patriot is listed in the index, you can then buy the lineage report that details how far down the line the society has proven records. This will tell you which ancestor in your line that you need to start documenting.
Effective January 1, 2014, the DAR will accept Y-DNA as a supplemental tool of lineage.
Be patient and don’t get frustrated. Delays are inevitable as you need to completely satisfy the society that you are tracing the correct lineage. But the reward is worth the wait, and your descendants will thank you for your hard work in passing down this bit of family history.