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Linking Up Your Lineage

Lineage societies have different requirements for applications. The best thing to do is work with the registrar of the organization that you want to join when gathering your information. That way you will get what you need, not what you think you need.

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Karan Pittman
Word Count: 817 (approx.)
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Lineage societies have different requirements for applications. Some are quite stringent; others are more lenient. The best thing to do is work with the registrar of the organization that you want to join when gathering your information. That way you will get what you need, not what you think you need. Lineage societies, including the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the Revolution, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century and all the other societies, have different rules and regulations regarding admission.

The purpose of lineage charts is to prove lineal descent from another generation. This can be done in several ways. The most obvious include using birth certificates and marriage certificates. Death certificates are also accepted even though the information on a death certificate is given by another person.

Unfortunately, birth and death certificates have, as a rule, only become common documents since the 1920's. In some cases, earlier birth certificates may be found, but other ways to prove birth dates must be utilized. Most lineage societies will accept approximate birth and death dates, as long as there is documentation to back up the information.

If you are fortunate enough to have a family Bible naming people, birth and death dates, it may be used to prove your lineage. Be sure to scan the pages needed as well as the title page of the Bible. Often Bibles are copied and stored in Archives and libraries. It may be to your advantage to visit the local archives or genealogical library to see if Bible records can be located. Some Bible records are put on websites. Try going into www.roots.com to look under the appropriate state and county to see if any Bible records are available.

One way to prove birth and death dates is to take pictures of the gravestones. Be sure to document your pictures. Use a label on the back of the picture stating where the graves are located, i.e. the name of the cemetery, the town, county and state, and the date. This will provide verification for the lineage society. If a man and wife are buried together, try to get a picture of the two together, then two separate pictures of each headstone.

Another way to verify birth dates is to use the census. This is especially true for the 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 census records. The earlier censuses – 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 – will only provide approximate dates; whereas the later censuses will provide months and years. The earliest censuses – 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840 – do not list household names, but ages may be figured by knowing the children in the family. Lineage societies recognize the fact that censuses are not always completely accurate. The birth dates may be a few years off. Censuses were taken at different times of the year, and the ages may be a bit different. As long as it is adequately documented, the dates will be accepted.

Death dates may be verified through wills and other court documents. This is especially true in the early 1800's and late 1700's. Records were meticulously kept during those years. If you find a will for your ancestor, you will be able to narrow down the death date. The will may also provide the documentation you need to prove lineage for one generation to the next, providing your ancestor named children and grandchildren.

A will provided the documentation I needed for three generations. My ancestor, John Ferguson died in Amelia County, Virginia, in the 1790's. In his will, he named his daughter, Catharine and her son (his grandson), Billey, who lived in Georgia at that time. He also named his wife, Lucy, in the will, as well as her brother. By using the will, I was able to document all three generations as well as get a clue regarding Lucy Ferguson's family for future research.

Other probate records may be used for lineage purposes. Often administrator bonds, as well as guardianship papers will help in proving a lineage. Land records may prove kinship. Sometimes you get lucky and names are placed in land records delineating kinship, but often land records do not provide the proof that you need for lineage.

Many times you can locate a genealogy on the internet. Often these genealogies provide you with the clues you need to document your family. In order to use these genealogies, you must be able to find verification of the data. In other words, you must be able to produce the source that has the information.

The important aspect of joining a lineage society is to remember that a connection to the previous generation must be proven. Once the lineage is proven, then you need to be able to provide the documentation and sources for the military service, land ownership or other participation that is required.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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