Monday, June 18, 2012

A Daughter of the American Revolution???

I never had aspirations to belong to the Daughters of the American Revolution. A cousin of mine did/does, but I always knew better - yes, my family was here 150 years before the Revolutionary War, but the Raynors, like much of the Hempstead English settlers, were Loyalists. The DAR wouldn't touch me with a 50-foot pole.

But that was okay. The American Revolution was a pivotal moment in American history but it was only one small part in a very long, varied, storied history. My ancestors weren't Patriots. They didn't come over on the Mayflower. But they shaped American history, from those who came here in the 1600s to my great-grandfather in the 1890s. My family and I are still shaping this country today.

Enter today.

The past couple of days I've taken to looking up people from my family tree in Google News and Google Books - great-great grandpa Rudolph Stutzmann turns up in all sorts of newspaper pages AND books, as it turns out. But I already know a whole lot about Rudy - he is fascinating to me, especially in a day and age when there's a lot of distrust and resentment for big banks and big bankers, as Rudy was at the turn of the 20th century. But he might be the ancestor I know the most about. Lately I've been obsessing about finding a colonial New Amsterdam Dutch link in my family tree, and I have some brick walls that might prove fruitful if only I could break through them, so I've been plugging in all sorts of names - Whitehead Raynor turned up in the news a few times - between his estate being auctioned and his estate inventory, I've learned much more about ole' Whitey and he was fairly well off for an early 19th century fisherman - heck, he's more well off than me! - but that's an entry for another day. So far, the New Amsterdam Dutch link is still proving to be a deadend, much to my chagrin... I finally plugged in the name "Elijah Sprague." Elijah was my 5th great-grandfather, and his father was also Elijah. This is all based on other people's works and conjecture and educated guesses from my own legwork. But wouldn't you know Elijah Sprague Sr. turned up in Google Books under a book citing Patriots who served in the American Revolution...what the what? I decided to check out the DAR website itself and there he is - serving in the Albany County militia and under Captain Benjamin Hewlett. He's in the database. He is an established Patriot. And apparently he died in Canada. I knew several of his siblings had settled in Canada, but I didn't think I had a direct ancestor who had settled in Canada. The thing is, I can't PROVE my link to him. Not yet, anyway. All the names are right, but the proof, the paper link, isn't there yet. But at least now I have a name to TRY to connect to. My Raynor ancestors must be rolling in their graves!

So, I figured, if I have one possible Patriot on my line, I might have another. I have very few non-Raynor lines in that time period that I can trace, but I plugged in "William Johnson" into the DAR database, and he turned up. William Johnson is a possible 6th great grandfather of mine. It's a common name, but I know this William Johnson in the DAR database is my possible William Johnson because he had a son with an unusual name - Gilbert. And William served under Captain Peter Nostrand and Colonel Josiah Smith. Oh, I also know it's my possible William because the year he died is correct - I have a will abstract for William Johnson for 1818, which matches up. I think I am related to William Johnson through my fourth great grandfather Richard Poole. William Johnson had a grandson Richard Pool. My gut tells me they are the same person - and all the circumstantial evidence will have to be addressed in a subsequent entry - but I have no PROOF they are the same person. But it gives me something else to work on, a concrete person to try to link to.

Will I join the DAR if I can prove any of this? Eh. Maybe. But I know my cousin will be very happy. And Cousin April has found her own unexpected possible DAR connection, so even though its different people for us, maybe this is another project we can work on together! (Genealogy is much more fun when you have someone to share it with!)


  1. WHAT?!?! Awesome!! I am also having a difficult time acquiring the paper trail. I am not really a joiner, I think being able to join such a lineage organization is just a mark of my genealogical research ability; I am not getting in on my mom's or grandmom's membership because those don't exist. I have to find it and prove it myself. And my patriot line settled in Canada too! Hmm, are you sure were not related...oh wait, wait - we are!

    1. I just thought it was so funny, that within weeks, not even, of you finding a possible DAR connection on an unexpected line, so did I!! The universe must want us to keep researching together! Lol...