Saturday, November 21, 2015

A lesson learned about proof from the DAR AIR

DAR AIR? What's that, you might ask. When you submit an application for DAR membership you must prove your line from yourself back to your Revolutionary War Patriot. Every individual on the Lineage page of your application must have a date and place of birth, a date and place of death, and for the first three generations, must have the marriage date and place. Not only will you enter those items on the application form but you'll have to submit a supporting document proving each of them. It might sound all but impossible at first, but once you get looking in the right places, it's amazing how easy it is to find much of it... and how hard it can be to find the last few. Finding those last missing documents is the best part of this game, at least to me:)

Once your application is approved by the highly professional DAR Staff Genealogist, or Genie as we lovingly call them, you can then submit what's called a Supplemental Application for another Patriot. And you can keep on going and going. With each Patriot approved you earn the right to purchase a lovely little Ancestor Bar to pin on your DAR ribbon and insignia. The pin looks something like this, below.

Ancestor Bar

Some of the ladies really enjoy the hunt for new ancestors! I know I do. I have just four so far with three more awaiting approval. But I've heard of ladies having 30, 40, or more! Here's a photo of a ribbon offered on eBay with a couple of ancestor bars, but not in the correct position. And yes, the order of the pins matters.


When you submit an application either to be a member or as an supplemental application after your original application, if you mess up and don't prove the name, date, or palace to the standards required, the Genie will send you an Additional Information Required letter, or AIR.

Recently I submitted two supplemental applications, one each for Isaac Workman and Peter Trautman. Each got an AIR. Bummer for me. But each one was an opportunity to learn and become a better genealogist. Read on!

When I got the AIR letter I must confess to being shocked. I knew this family cold. Knew them all because my Grandma Kelly talked about all of them as if they were still alive. Mom collected documentation on this line fore years and I've added to her treasure trove. So to have the Genie cast a shade of doubt on Elisha Workman as the son of John and to doubt John's date of death, well that was ... shocking.

How many times as genealogists do we have someone call us out on our conclusions? When was the last time someone called you out like that? And a high ranking professional genealogist at that! I had to take a moment to gather myself! Then I got to work:)

The problem with Isaac Workman's son John was that I found his probate file and worked off of that to determine that he died about 12 July 1859. The Genie writing the AIR pointed out that the previous application for Isaac through his son John used that date but exactly a year later: 12 July 1858. The AIR requested more information. I had no idea where the previous app got the date they did so I had to go look and try to determine what they used as a source. Luckily it was obviously the obituary of John's sister, Margaret, and I had that at hand. I tried to reconstruct the original source and had to contact an older researcher who had known Margaret of the obit. He said that it had been copied out of an old family bible. Well! It is no big stretch of the imagination to see where coping a date out of an old bible could go wrong.

What I used as the source for the death date was John's probate file. From the doctor's bill, it could be seen that the last visit to Isaac was July 11 of that year. The bill from the undertaker stated that he delivered a coffin on July 12th. Therefore, it could be concluded that he died on or about 12 July 1859. Hands down, the probate file was a better document that the missing bible record with the date passed down from generation to generation.

I knew I was solid on the probate file and the date of death so I started writing that up as I took time to think about the best way to prove that Elisha was the son of John. Of course the probate file contained a good number of documents that named John, but the Genie asked if there might be another John in the area: how did we know that this Elisha was the son of this John? I had to admit it: it was a good question.

The big red flag was the 1850 census that enumerated a John Workman in the dwelling place listed adjacent to John Workman in Allegany Co., MD. We can't say that they "lived next to each other" and that proved anything because we don't know if that was what happened. Maybe the dwelling were 10 miles apart and over the hill. Can't tell from this census record. What we can say is that the two were enumerated in the 1850 census, one after the other on the same page.

And that isn't even the worst of it!! Elisha Workman, the son, is listed as 29 years old. John is listed as 50. That makes him 21 years too young! Good grief!

The only thing to do, I felt, was to search all of the census records for Allegany County, MD for 1850 and 1860 to see if there was any other male named John who was the correct age for our John. And there wasn't. Whew.

It might be said that one of the biggest conundrums of the DAR Genealogy Consultant is the Multiple Men of the Same Name. I groan audibly every time I run into it, and it happens a lot back before 1850. The same set of names are handed down from generation to generation results in more John and Elijah combinations that you want to see. And why is there a Cuthbert in every generation? What you're going to need is a spreadsheet, or a chart at least. Names on one side and records on the other, or in whatever combination works for you.

And the key, most of the time, is location. Where were they when that happened? The same man can not, luckily, be in two different residences at the same time. Just go ahead and plug it all in that spread sheet or chart and have faith that it will work out. And it will. Give it time to breathe, and make sure that you haven't overlooked any records. The check tax records, and land records and any other local records you can dig up. Go local!! Use Excel if you're comfortable, or a chart or table. Or just spread them all out on the floor. But get them out there so you can see them all. Then give it time. Don't be in too much of a rush with this.

That worked for me on the Isaac Workman AIR. Between the probate file and a thorough examination of the census records for all Elijah and John Workman in that location at that time, it all made sense and the puzzle was solved.

I was so happy when I got official word that my supplemental application had been verified. The in the blink of an eye, I ordered my ancestor bar for Isaac Workman!

Another time I'll share what happened with the Peter Trautman and his granddaughter. That would be the wife of Elisha Workman, Nancy Ann Trautman. It's another case where the census helped, along with a probate file.

The Workman Settlement land, Zhilman, Allegany Co., MD.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Let's go find you a DAR Patriot, and a tip or two about finding them on your tree.

Recently, I've been sharing bits and pieces of my work as a Genealogy Consultant for the DAR. When a new prospective member and I sit down to start the work of documenting her lineage back to her Revolutionary War patriot, I first ask if she has any women in her family or up her tree who were DAR members. If she does then that's a great start and we can get to work right away. If not then I ask if she knows of anyone on her tree who was in the Revolutionary War. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't know of one.

You might be wondering how it might come to be that a woman wants to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and not already know of her patriot ancestor? It happens more often than you might think! Say I'm a member and my best-est ever friend also wants to be a member so we can have some fun together while giving back to the community but doesn't know of a patriot on her tree. What to do? Call in the Genealogy Consultant.

It happened just this way recently. One of our members who gives a lot of time to the organization was hopeful that her friend could have a DAR patriot on her tree. She and her friend started building out a tree for her on Ancestry as quickly as possible, mostly using Ancestry Member Trees. It's not the most reliable way to build a tree for your personal work, but when you're in a hurry it can work if you are careful about using those member trees. Look for documentation and the more sources you see on a tree, the more likely it is to be worthwhile. Our member and her friend thought they found a patriot of the Revolution and that's when they got me involved.

Before we get into that, I want to share an observation or two. When I first started doing this work for the DAR, the general thought was that there were ladies out in the population who would come to us and say they wanted to be a member just so that someone with some skills would build out their tree for them. I don't see that anymore. I think that Ancestry is out there running commercials all the time and people see how "easy" it is to do your own genealogy. It gives an impression that they can build out a tree in no time just by following those shaky leaves. So they pretty much don't need the DAR to do that for them. And it's good for us because ladies don't say they are interested in membership for the wrong reason.

Another thought to share at this point is that sometimes what we've been told about who is on a prospective member's tree, just isn't true. A couple of months ago I saw a very big hole in the lineage of a delightful woman. She had been told that her 2nd great grandmother was a DAR. When I built out a tree for her, I could see that the name she gave me as the member was possibly the niece of someone who might be on her tree. After a serious hunt, I could not find any proof of her real great grandmother's parents. At that point I called in some ladies who knew how to find a hidden ancestor and they too couldn't find a mother or a father. It was a very difficult moment when I had to tell her that we hadn't been able to prove her lineage. I could tell that she thought we weren't very good at doing this sort of stuff. Oh, well.

OK, so I started out wanting to share how we find patriots on a tree. I think it's cool and it's pretty simple, really. First, understand that for DAR purposes, an ancestor can be considered for recognition as a Patriot if the rendered service happened from 19 April 1775 to 26 November 1783. To be of an appropriate age your ancestor is most likely to have been born between the years of approximately 1726 to 1765. As you might imagine, young men usually fought and older men gave good and services, wrote petitions and other patriotic works. Women rendered service when they cooked, mended clothes, or gave materials that would help support the fighting. Both men and women paid Supply Taxes, in which a portion of the tax collected went to the support of the war effort.

I could say a lot more here about the types of eligible service, but let's save that for another day. Just know that you should look at men and women equally. Women's service is a bit more difficult to prove, usually, because they are often hidden to the records. And remember too, that you have hundreds and hundreds of ancestors to look at!

So that's pretty much it. That's where you start. You ancestor born in Canada? Maybe they might be a patriot too especially f they came from Quebec. From France? It's worth a check because France was our biggest friend during the Revolution. Spain? Sure, it's worth a check because Spain had forts in the southern territories, in Florida, and in what's now Louisiana. Mexico? Try it too. More and more of the newer ancestor Patriots recently added to the DAR listings have been from Canada, France, and Spain.

How do you check? Go to and click on the bar that says Genealogy. That will take you to the GRS, or Genealogy Records System. The click on Ancestor Database and start entering names. Be sure to use the Advanced Search and Soundex. Sometimes it helps to enter less information rather than more. Give it a try. You might be surprised!!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A short little story about a recent DAR application and a tip

I like working as a Genealogy Consultant for the DAR. I meet and work closely with a lovely bunch of ladies who are real excited about becoming members. And each one brings with her a unique basket of ancestors and every basket is different. Sure, our chapter here in San Diego is lots of fun and we work at projects that serve our community and the veterans and their families who live and work here. But mostly, I think I'm in it for the genealogy!

Recently I helped a prospective member get her application ready. She had a lot of ancestors from Mississippi and Alabama during the early 1800s. Everyone had initials instead of proper given names! Everyone! If you stopped to carefully examine who was where and when, you could sort of guess how the generations lined up and who was who. But I swear, each person had a different name in every record. I'd hoped that a chart might convince the Genie at National who reviewed that application of the connections between generations, but he remained questioning. So the prospective member received a ARI, or Additional Information Requested.

At first when I began doing this work, I was super afraid of the AIR letter. It had been called at one time "dreaded." One tried not to get an AIR, at all costs. And some of the ladies sort of bragged that they'd never received one! Really?! But I almost don't mind getting one because I know that I missed some item and there was an opportunity to learn. If I could keep my cool.

Well, here we are in Mississippi and this ancestor of my prospective member is a lady who is listed with lots of initials in records and not hardly a full given name in the lot. Even on this ancestor's death certificate listing the name of her father, she was recorded as Mrs. "Husband's Name". Her father's name recorded there gave two initials and not a given name to be seen. So that death certificate was no help in establishing proof of the woman's parentage, at all. We used it to establish dates of birth and death. But not to establish parentage.

I made a chart hoping to see the connection between records. It could be done but it was a long way to go to prove one name. I would have to use five censes records, a Civil War Pension Application and a Service File from Fold3. That's a lot of stuff to prove one set of names. Then I thought of a tried-and-true strategy I'd used before: checking the death certificate of siblings.

I made a list of where each of our lady's sibs died and had the prospective member look for and order them. Two came back. The sister's death certificate was as bad as the one in hand of the ancestor in question. But her brother's death certificate listed both of his parents with full names! Connection between generation made!

To wrap it all up, census records from both 1870 and 1880 were referenced to show that family unit and that the lady ancestor included the man whose death certificate we submitted. It made a tidy little package.

Tip: think about the siblings' death certificates!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Version of Turth or Dare: Document That Folklore!

See that tab up top? The one that says, "Ancestral History of Thomas F. Myers"? Right, that's it. Take a look. It's a privately published book by one of my uncles, sister to my 4th great grandmother Mary Myers, produced about 1900. There's a lot of names, dates, and place in it and Mom and I have found it to be surprisingly accurate. There is one glaring error but Thomas F. Myers had no way of know that his Revolutionary War hero and great grandfather, Nehemiah Newans, did not die at the Battle of Yorktown but lived a long and happy life... elsewhere, and without his wife and son. But otherwise he was a dandy scholar of the history of our family.

So, just the other afternoon, I got to thinking that maybe there were details in that little book I'd overlooked or dismissed as folklore. Maybe I should go back and catalog the myriad details on those pages of his about the ancestors in my direct line. Make a list or a chart or something and see what could be seen. There's a lot there and with time - a lot of it - and a research log to track where I went, maybe more could be found. And that's what I've been doing, and  have to say, this is going to take a LOT of time!!

So here it is. The chart that will hopefully show truth through documentation, if I can find that documentation. The right hand column is where I'll track findings so it's practically empty now.

Hey, and let me know if you have any missing pieces or can elaborate on any events, dates or places. Thanks!!

"Ancestral History of Thomas F. Myers" Fact Check

Miss Kepplinger
Family came from Holland. Religious persecution.
During war, drove cart that seemed to have butter and eggs but had had sacks of powder, through lines. Was searched but told to pass.
Miss Kepplinger’s Mother
Given Cory Kepplinger
Sister to Col. Corry.
Made sheep skin shoes for soldiers.
Her maiden name was Cory. This is the correct spelling as per Wikipedia.
Col. Corry / Cory
French & Indian and Rev. fame.
Town of Corry PA was named for him.
Town is Corry but founders name was Cory. Wiki.
Mrs. Macelvaine
Sister to Miss Kepplinger’s mother
Her maiden name was Cory too.
Mr. Koontz
Miss Kepplinger’s uncle.
Owner Colonial Hotel of York PA.
Continental Congress was held here after run out of Philadelphia.
Mr. Kepplinger
Ground all wheat for soldiers at Valley Forge.
Had a salt works on the Patapsco river where Baltimore now stands.
The company was known as Beason, Kepplinger & Magoun.
They conveyed salt to Beasontown, now Uniontown.
Uniontown was Beesontown, Founded by Henry Beeson, 1776. Wiki.
Father, Mother, and servants
Attended to and fed soldiers in their barn.
Thomas Newan
War of 1812
Maryland Volunteers
Capt. Steiners Company
Col. Stoners Regiment
Mary Knough
Wife of Thomas Newins
Mary Knough’s sister. Same mother but different fathers.
Married Matthew Bartgis
Matthew Bartgis
Mayor of Frederick for years
after Lt. Gov. of MD.
1st man to carry mail from Frederick to Winchester and from Winchester to Georgetown.
1750, organized the mail service in America.
First to print a nsp at Winchester VA and Frederick MD/
James Bartgis
Son of Matthew and Peggy
Mayor of Frederick
Hiram Bartgis
Son of Matthew and Peggy
Sheriff of Frederick
Peggy Bartgiss Father
Mr. Datsbaugh
Member of the House of Burgess
Carried an effigy of King George through the streets of Frederick & burned it in 1763.
Indian Fighter
Peter Myers
Helped build Ft Frederick in 1756.
Served in Rev. War:
Battle of Brandywine
Wounded at Battle of Monmouth
Mary Hughes
Wife of Peter Myers.
They had 5 children:
Jacob, served in 1812
Most trees show Hibbs.
Jacob Myers
Born in Tanneytown MD 1789
Died Cumberland 7 Feb 1852
Served in 1812
Sheriff of Frederick County.
Stage agent for Sto?? ??tokes stage line from Frederick to Morgantown.
Afterward transferred to Cumberland.

Mary Myers Eckhart 1837-1909

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Laurel Messenger: The joys of the county genealogical and historical society newsletter!

For years, Mom has subscribed to the Laurel Messenger, the newsletter of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. About a year ago when I was raiding Mom's shelves of things I'd need to carry on her genealogy work, I came across stacks of old Laurel Messengers and packed them up and shipped them all to my home here in San Diego. When I got home and had some time to look at this treasure, I decided that I too needed to subscribe with a membership.

Published quarterly, it's focus is two-fold: it brings news of the history side of the house and covers events like the recent Mountain Craft Day, as well as publishes genealogy focused articles about news of yesteryear and diaries of locals. The most recent issue contains a lively mix of both.

These local groups are the lifeblood of many a small town or distant county for those of us who research from afar. We depend on their archives, if they are fortunate to have support for one, and we spend our travel dollars to get there. We send in our requests for requests for research, and it usually comes at very reasonable rates. Sure we might have to wait months for their lone research volunteer to get to it, but we know that it will be worth it.

Back to the Laurel Messenger's recent issue. In it was the story of an German girl, traveling alone, who came to America in the early 1800s. She married in Germany in 1830 and her husband left there for America and arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio to find work. By 1835, his wife, Liwwat, was on her way to him. The excerpt begins for us at her day 61 of travel from Germany when she arrives in Baltimore and hires a driver to take her west over the Old Pike, or National Highway. Here are just a few samples.

Day 64. It was indeed a perilous and long day. We stayed the night in the inn west of Hancock, at Piney Grove. It cost 70 cents with black bread, and they made us food for the next day also, for eating on the way. The water here is horrible and tastes like gunpowder.

Day 65. Today we traveled again over high mountains, and by afternoon heavy thunder and thunder clouds cracked between the mountains. The storm was unpleasant. The horses were frightened and so was I. This evening we stayed in a little house with a Cumberland (Maryland) family. The meal was the best with bread, meat, milk and vegetables.

Day 65. (Number duplicated.) There was a dispute between the travelers and the wagoners. They thought the trip too slow... city people who don't realize the weakness of and difficult pulling of the horses. Their patience is thin, too many days, and people are tired.

Day 66. It poured with rain showers, one after the another, so driving the team was dangerous and slow. We stayed the night outside of Frostburg (Maryland). The host immediately made a fire in the fireplace, and prepared the soup and evening meal. The man spoke German very well. Everything cost me 55 cents for the night with enough for breakfast.

Interesting. One of our ancestors, John Eckhart and family ran an Inn on the National Road about this time and might have been her host because his inn was just east of Frostburg. He died in 1835 and would have been hale and hearty during the time Liwwat traveled through.

Day 67. The Country is all mountains and valleys with thick forests and wide streams. Now we came through Grantsville, a nice village, and here we bought fresh meat and cooked it ourselves. The weather is better and the travelers as well.

Just a bit later than this, and about 1840, another ancestor of mine, Joseph Edward Whetstone,  had a blacksmith service in Grantsville. Then in about 1845, he took over the operation of an inn right there in Grantsville on the National Road!

This is just a small excerpt from the article which is full of the details of travel west during this time. I could easily imagine my ancestors who ran the inns on the National Road as being Liwwat's host or shoeing the team of horses.

I simply love how our local societies are the conduit of information of all sorts to those of us on the hunt for even more details about our ancestors!!

Joseph E Whetstone 1816-1897, blacksmith and farrier, then innkeeper on the National Road.
Lastly he was a stonemason and worked all over Western Maryland.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Five tips I've learned by working as a DAR Volunteer Genealogist

I'm tired tonight. Been working too long and hard on genealogy projects that aren't even my own, and for no pay. Who does that?! Me, apparently.

Just after the first of the year, I signed up for the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Genealogical Education Program, or GEP. You have to be a DAR member to take it, which I am, and it comes in three courses. It's self-paced, which means you take it online at your own speed, maybe in the comfort of your jammies. You can take up to 3 months to finish each section, which is plenty of time depending on your schedule, but I want to avoid getting stuck in the details here so let's move on and I'll just say it's super stuff, this GEP course.

Once you complete the course successfully, you get a dandy certificate and the right to purchase your Volunteer Genealogist pin. I even have business cards that say I'm a Volunteer genealogist for the DAR. I just love that! Would you like a card?

It is hoped that you will help women prepare their applications for membership in the DAR. You don't have to, of course. It's totally up to you. But for a true and true genealogist, how could you not help others? I couldn't resist!! And listen to this: you get to find out about other people's ancestors! I've helped women with a wide variety of skills when it comes to genealogy, from total beginners with no tree to some very savvy ladies with mad skills. I learn something from all of them.

So here are five tips I've picked up from doing this work. There are probably at least a 100! They may seem obvious and you could probably make this list yourself, but for me, let me just mention that some lessons are learned the hard way.

Top Tip: Get over the crazy on your tree!
Everyone has a bit of crazy on their tree. When you look at a lot of trees and get to know the ancestors on every branch, you'll find some crazy going on here and there. From high crimes and treason to garden variety desertion - which has to be the most frequent every-day brand of crazy - everyone finds some on their tree, if they look. If you think your ancestors are perfect and saintly, well, you're probably not looking deep enough into their lives. Perfection is not a natural human state. "We weren't there and we can't know what happened, so we shouldn't judge." Repeat often! Then you'll be ready for whatever crazy you find.
The thing about crazy, if you're not ready for it and haven't taken time to consider how you might feel about it, is that it saps energy out of your pursuit. It can throw you off track. And if you find it  personally embarrassing you might consciously or subconsciously be inclined to ignore it, shove it aside and not see that the child was adopted, lent out for work, and the mother not married. Look at the years. Do they make sense? Was the dad over 80 when the child was born. Not impossible. But how old was the mother? 50? Not going to happen. Now go look at the neighbor men. And don't be embarrassed. It has nothing to do with you.
On the other hand, if you embrace the crazy, it could take you to some place you've never been and give greater insight into family dynamics!

Look at every part of every document.
Imagine this. You pick up that death certificate of your great grandfather and pick out the date and place of death. And then move on to the next document. Right? Oh, no!
Instead, take time with that death certificate and examine it closely. Time with a document will make you a better genealogist, no doubt about it. If you just make one improvement to the way you work, take time to examine each document very closely, and in its entirety.
Much has been written about the value of death certificates to the family history enthusiast, so I won't cover that well-worn ground here. But I will say that a technique I use is to works in two steps. First, scan the document for relevant info to the problem at hand. What year did he die? Where was he born? What was his mother's maiden name? Find that and satisfy the reason you went looking for the document in the first place. In that way, you'll feel better about the search because you either found what you were looking for or didn't.
Then take five minutes or longer and let your eyes scan the entire document top to bottom, looking at every line filled in and every blank space. What does it say? And then what does it mean?
When that's done, take more time and thing about the time and place where the document was made. Give it some context. Was there a doctor in the town where they lived? Did they live way out in the country? In a city? How might that change the data you see there?
And here's a big tip for a death certificate: who exactly was the informant? Take a moment now and think about how the identity of the informant might influence the data on the death certificate.

Network with others especially the family genealogists or historians whose names you run into.
If you see a name on Find A Grave as the one who runs the memorial page, contact that person. If you see a flower or photo there, especially if the surname is the same as the deceased or the relationship is spelled out, get in contact!
I've learned so much from connections made there, on Ancestry, and on the message boards! Documents, both rare and common, have been shared willingly. Recently, I received a privately published history of a family line from a researcher who is a retired history professor. Footnotes!! He had it in his DropBox account and sent me an invite so that I could go get it and download a copy. How cool is that? And a bunch of sources on every page!
When looking at Ancestry trees you can tell if an ancestor page is fully built out with lovely documents or if it is very sketchy. If it looks fully packed, you can just bet that there's more to be had, with a polite introduction and kind words:)

I have two thoughts here. The first is that you really do need a goal for the task at hand. When you sit down at the computer, know what you're doing and where you'll go to hunt for what you're looking for. Yes, it makes sense and yes, I do know how hard it is not to run after that next shiny object that catches your eye. But if you have a goal for the task at hand and also keep a list of your shiny objects to get back to later, you'll be more likely to get where you need to go.
The only way you'll make progress is by keeping on track and carefully working back up your tree.
And for gosh sakes, keep a log. Just open a Word document or make a Evernote file and store URLs and comments there. About the fifth time you cover research ground you've covered before, you'll get this!!

Connecting generations.
This is the one thing I emphasize to prospective members: it's not enough to find that birth, death, and marriage information in citable sources, you have to connect those generations. And this can be the most difficult aspect of our work but without those connections all we really have is a file of individuals who aren't connected. Not a tree but a box full of leaves.
The famed 1850 census is the point of departure and before that and going back in time, it becomes increasingly more difficult to find a document that connects father to son. Harder still is connecting mother to daughter, or just finding a maiden name!
Of course, as you've probably seen, it greatly depends on what part of the country your ancestors inhabited. If they hailed from a urban area in one of the 13 original colonies, you might stand a chance. If they came from Plymouth, you can be optimistic about your search. But if they were on the frontier where folks were born at home and died there too and were buried in a family farm cemetery with just an wooden cross, and no bible at home... good luck to you. Hope that she kept a diary, but then she probably didn't read or write. If so, what use was a bible? And you'll notice that documents were signed with an "X".
True confessions: for me, the most difficult generational connection to document has been the grandchild of the patriot to his or her parent, the child of the patriot. The grandchildren were most likely born about 1800 to 1820. Their grandparents left all manner of records and a nice will and fat probate packet because they usually did well in life and they couldn't wait to own land. Some were even given land for their service.
The child of the patriot often didn't leave a will even though they too were prosperous and landed. Maybe they thought they didn't need it. Maybe they took care of affairs before passing, gave land to children, mostly male, and he and his wife went to live with one of the children. That's all I can say about that because I truly do not understand why the lack of document trail happens with this generation. If you have any thoughts, I'd like to hear them please.

Sad to say but sometimes we just don't get to find that elusive connection. We just don't find all of the documents we'd like to have. Guess that has to be my last tip.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Connecting William Trautman of Berks County to his son Peter Trautman of Somerset County PA, DAR style!

Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

I've written a lot about Peter Trautman, also spelled Troutman, who is one of my DAR ancestors, meaning that he served in the Revolutionary War. Now I want to connect him to his father William Trautman.

When I started doing genealogy back about 10 years ago, my personal proof standard was haphazard at best. If I saw it in a tree of someone I knew and trusted, or if Mom had found her proof, then it was good enough for me! Access to records back when Mom started doing genealogy in the early 1970s, was difficult to come by. Luckily, she lived in the geographic center of the locations of most all of our ancestors so if she took a day trip, she could find a lot of documents. When I look at her notes now, much of what I find on Ancestry using the general search function was already found by her. She collected binders full of census records form the early 1790 census to about 1880 for the counties circling our primary locations of interest. She was a non-stop collector of records! She even had at home rolls of microfilm and a reader!!

I've mentioned before about her correspondences with fellow genealogists across the country. She'd evaluate their skills and then share what she could and received whatever they had. It was a slow painstaking process helped along by the message boards. And once she had vetted the correspondent, she used what they sent.

Now, we work off of original records and I'm busy updating the Big Tree she built out over the decades with the best records I can find. It's a slow process but it will be worth it.

I mention all of this because I see this history of The Way We Worked in the DAR Ancestor records. Applications from the earliest time - about 1900 - contain little data and you're lucky to get names and dates. The applications, which are all available on the DAR website at under Genealogy along with much else, from the middle of the 20th Century have names, dates, and places and sources. If you are applying today one of the tasks will be to make sure that your application brings with it the most updated information possible. And we're all held to rigorous standards.

So, now on to the Trautman father and son. At some point "proving" my lineal connection to Peter Trautman I realized that his father Wilhelm or William Trautman was also listed as a DAR patriot! But... they were not connected, and in other words, no one who descended from Peter had also made a supplemental or additional application proving their lineal descent from William! Whoopie! I could do that!

So off I went, knowing that I'd already proven my descent from Peter, and set out to prove Peter's connection to William as his son. Sounded easy enough.

So what sort of documents might prove that connection? What would you look for? How about a birth record, or a church baptismal record? That would work, wouldn't it? Hmmm. Peter was born in Berks County, PA, and that was already in the DAR records for him, so I checked FamilySearch Wiki to see what they said about birth or baptism records there. Nothing panned out there or anywhere else I looked, and believe me, I looked. Next stop: what other records would prove a father-son connection?

How about will and probate records? Yup! I have William's will and it names Peter as his oldest son. Got that from FamilySearch. It was written in English and German and probated in February 1790. I even have a transcription from a Trautman cousin years ago, so I wouldn't have to transcribe the whole thing for the DAR application, but would have to check that transcription for accuracy. Easy enough.

But I wasn't going to submit that will alone! I also needed to prove that my Peter Trautman was indeed the one and only Peter Trautman who was born in Berks County and moved to Bedford County that later became Somerset County. How was I going to do that?

I checked all the census and tax rolls for both counties for a William Trautman and a Peter Trautman. The point of this is to prove that there was only one William Trautman and only one Peter Trautman in that location at that time. There is also a William Trautman Jr., son of William Sr. and he's mentioned in the will too as one of the administrators, so that's confusing. Here's what I found, below, and as you can see, while it provided some useful bits that could fill out a timeline, it's not conclusive when it comes to proving a father-son relationship. William Sr. died in berks Co. in 1790.

Census: Year/ County

Peter Trautman

William Trautman

1768 Proprietary Return for the County of Berks for the year 1768


Listed as carpenter. This is William Sr. because Jr was born in 1763. No other William Trautman listed.

1783 PA Supply Tax, Bedford Co PA



1788 tax and exoneration for Londonderry, Bedford Co



US 1790, Bedford, Berks.



US 1790, any PA



1793 Tax Assessment, Bedford Co



Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798

Londonderry, Bedford Co


Londonderry, Bedford Co

US 1800


Londonderry, Somerset, Pennsylvania


PA Septennial Census 1800

Londonderry, Somerset, Pennsylvania

Londonderry, Somerset, Pennsylvania

US 1810

Southampton, Somerset, Pennsylvania

Southampton, Somerset, Pennsylvania

Next, I double-checked Peter's military file on Fold3 and his pension application. There was a nice note from his brother William Jr. vouching for him. William lived in Somerset County. So there was a useful location there. And Peter's pension file stated numerously that he served from Berks County, and that would substantiate the Berks / Somerset connection. But where was the father, William Sr.? Not there. Keep looking.
I've found that land records can be a girl genealogists best friend, and they were here too, but I wasn't too optimistic at first. You see Peter received land in Somerset County through the process of Bounty Land for service in the Revolutionary War from the state of Pennsylvania, so he probably didn't get any land from his father as the first son. And in looking at the chart above, you can see that Peter was in Bedford Co. in 1788. But I thought of land records anyway.
I retraced my steps through the DAR records and applications for William Sr. and Peter. I asked for help in a Facebook group devoted to helping other members work up their lineage. An angel came forward and said that there was reference to a deed in Deed Book 11, Berks County, that named Peter Trautman and also mentioned William Sr. as his father!! Oh joy!
Yes, and there it was. Just as promised. I had already searched the Berks County Recorder's Office online and not found any results for Trautman or Troutman, but it was there just the same. Probably operator error.
It's a beautiful thing, that deed! In it Peter sells his interest in his father's estate. It names as his father as William Trautman of Greenwich Township, Berks County. And it also stated that the grantor is Peter Trautman of Bedford County, later Somerset County. To my eyes, it's a beautiful document!
So there is was. I had the will and I had the deed. I also had the DAR listing for both William Trautman and Peter Trautman, and the dates and places line up perfectly! A triangulation: three documents that prove the same conclusion.
Next step, filling out the paperwork to prove my lineage from myself to William Trautman born in Germany and died in Berks County, PA, who is a DAR patriot because he took the Oath of Allegiance in 1788. Good man.

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