Friday, July 04, 2008

Revolutionary War Ancestors

NOTE: This flag flys high at the Leavenworth National Cemetery taken when I visited 19 May 2008. My ancestor William Gist FROMAN is buried about 1/2 mile to the south/southwest of this mark. I couldn't believe my luck at this shot, didn't even crop it. As I turned off the camera, and looked back towards my ancestor's tombstone, the cemetery's distant bell tower began to toll the hour -- a fitting tribute, and the end of a marvelous day of cemetery research.

As we gather in the U.S. this July 4th, Independence Day, we tend to think about those the old family stories of a Revolutionary War ancestor. (OK – The younger ones are thinking about food and fireworks.) In my case, I cannot believe I haven’t finished my DAR (Daughters of American Revolution) application yet. It must be because I’ve moved cross-country and half way back again these past few years. Too much is still in moving boxes.

Looking for Revolutionary War ancestry has changed drastically - thanks to the miracle of the internet.

When Ol’ Myrt here first began doing “RevWar” research in the mid-80s (1980s that is!) we used index books like:


Ol’ Myrt found a book review by Helen Schatvet Ullmann of Revolutionary War Period Bible, Family & Marriage Records Gleaned from Pension Applications Volume 23 Hull-Hunting, with additional info provided in the 2006 publication by Deidre Burridge Dagner of Louisa, VA.

Helen’s review appeared in the quarterly The New England Historical and Genealogical Register Volume 161, October 2007 page 304, and asserted that the Hull-Hunting-Dagner publication has more information than compiled by Virgil D. White in Genealogical Abstracts and refers readers to the Dagner's website
for more info including a master name index.

It was at this website that one learns the basis for the Hull-Hunting-Dagner abstracts is the “Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800 - 1900, micro publication M805, a National Archives Publication.”

Library membership access is required for HQ Online.

Let us not confuse these:

  • M805 = the SELECTED [partial] records, are the basis for the Hull-Hunting-Dagner abstract books, available through ProQuest/Heritage Quest for some time.
  • M804 = the FULL “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files” searchable with links to scanned images at See also the descriptive pamphlet for publication M804 available as an 82-page PDF file.

In recent communication with a certain Insider” Ol’ Myrt was informed
“The selected records were intended to include the pages that are interesting to genealogists. Each file was reviewed, and about 1/3 of each file was included in M805. I’ve been told that some of the pages that weren’t included [emphasis added] were correspondence between the VA and descendants, family bible pages, and other correspondence.”

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: I thought family bible pages are genealogically significant, but when the NARA microfilmed their selection from each ancestor's complete file they apparently didn’t agree with my assessment.
But I digress.

The Footnote Insider continues I would add that when Footnote indexed the
Rev War Pension and Bounty-land Warrant Application Files
NARA M804, we not only keyed the names of the claimants, but every name that we found on every page. Users report finding references to their rev war soldier in files for other soldiers. They also report hits on names of ancestors who corresponded with the VA during the 1930s. And please let me add that searching that index is free at Footnote – they don’t have to pay for searches, only for viewing the high-resolution images.

I’d like to suggest that any visitor to Footnote look over the whole Rev War collection at Footnote – from the Continental Congress - Papers (NARA M247, NARA M332 & NARA M61) and the Constitutional Convention Records (NARA M866) to the Rev War Service Records (NARA M88) and Rev War Muster Rolls (M246). There’s also a lot of Rev War and early Americana in the Pennsylvania Archives. See also the article Mining Revolutionary War Pensions: Slave Births.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution has stringent membership requirements, and one reasonable research shortcut is to dovetail with a previously approved or “recognized” lineage. Write to the NSDAR, provide your rough draft lineage between you and the patriot, so the volunteers can locate the “closest match” approved application for your review. In my case, studying the approved application of Twila (name withheld for privacy) proving her lineage to a soldier named Paul FROMAN was a breakthrough. Her application comes down through the generations as close to me as my proven Civil War ancestor William Gist FROMAN. Since I’m a member of the DUV (Daughters of Union Veterans) honoring this man, I am confident my proof documents will hold true with the ladies at the DAR.

To make my DAR application easier to complete, I can reference Twila’s approved lineage application for the earlier generations, and provide copies of documentary evidence for subsequent generations between our common ancestor and myself. However, since I want my female descendants to be able to dovetail into my application, I’ll have to use Twila’s pre-Civil War research to guide collection of proofs for those earlier generations to include with my DAR application.

Check the latest “approved patriot” by making a request via the DAR website. "The DAR Patriot Index contains names of Revolutionary patriots, both men and women, whose service (between 1775 and 1783) has been established by the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.” For ladies considering the prospect of honoring a Revolutionary War patriot, see the DAR's suggestion for "Beginning Research" and "Proceeding with a Membership Application".

And not to leave you gentlemen out, Ol’ Myrt recommends reviewing websites for
the following venerable men’s lineage organizations:

  • Will printed indexes go to the wayside as indexed and browse-able scanned images are available on the net? Not sure. What if the indexers of the book version happened to decipher your 5th great-grandfather's muster role entry better than the index offered on the net? Perhaps it is best to check both types of indexes. Leave no stone unturned and so forth.

  • Will we need to order microfilm of Revolutionary War records? Not if the collection you need to view is available via the net. It is a brave new world, and at least THIS part is definitely marvelous.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved. Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

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