Lineage Societies, DAR

Membership in Lineage Societies

Editor’s Note: Nancy Mahone Miller is the author of this post on lineage society membership, which originally appeared in 2011. Ms. Nancy Mahone Miller is the Collection Development Librarian for the Local History/Genealogy collection at Virginia Beach Public Library, Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a past chapter regent of the Lynnhaven Parish Chapter, DAR (Virginia Beach) and a long-time DAR member who has mentored many prospective applicants through the process. She has established nine Revolutionary Patriots in her ancestry and at the time of this writing, had two more pending approval.

Pursuing the goal of lineage society membership often provides the impetus for seriously delving into one’s ancestry. To join a lineage society, a researcher must prove descent from a specific ancestor. The qualifications are usually based on a strict variety of credentials. For example, the prospective member must have an ancestor that arrived on a specific passenger ship such as the Mayflower, possess an early ancestor in a specific geographic area (e.g., Minnesota Territorial Pioneers), have a precise ethnic or religious background such as Huguenot, or relationship to a President of the United States (Presidential Families of America). The common thread in all lineage societies is that the members must document ancestry to a person who fits the organization’s criteria. Most societies, moreover, require sponsorship for membership by another member. Almost endless possibilities exist for membership in such a group.

Joining a lineage society affords the member a number of advantages, including the opportunity to connect with other genealogists who share a common interest and access to the organization’s library and/or membership records – or it simply may provide a way to meet some new cousins. Continue reading…

Civilian Conservation Corps at an experimental farm in Beltsville, Maryland

Civilian Conservation Corps Records

Editor’s note: In this informative post, originally published in 2010, Karen E. Livsey discusses the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, how records were kept, and resources for finding and using the Civilian Conservation Corps  Records. Ms. Livsey is the Library/Archivist at the Fenton History Center in Jamestown (Chautauqua Co.), New York, and she serves as the Ellicott (N.Y.) Town Historian. She is a member of the Genealogical Publishing Company booth staff at national genealogical conferences.

Sometimes referred to as “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was an early program created during President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Beginning in 1933, the CCC accepted young men between eighteen and twenty-five years of age–although some variations and time limits were instituted during the program—until its termination in 1942. The young men had to be unemployed and recommended by the Department of Labor through a local welfare agency. They earned $30.00 a month, $25.00 of which was sent home to help support the family. The participant’s allotment was usually sent to the mother. After acceptance into the program, they had to report to an army recruiting station for a physical exam and assignment. After two weeks of conditioning, physical exams, inoculations and taking an oath of enrollment, inductees received army surplus clothing, and later blue denim work suits. The young men were assembled into companies and sent to camps around the country and away from their home area. These camps were operated by the United States Army. The work available at each camp involved conserving, constructing and improving parks, forests and other lands. The results of the many projects can still be seen in our parks and forests today. Flood control, fire roads, bridges, reforestation, erosion control, landscaping and a variety of other work was done.

Civilian Conservation Corps Records were kept on each participant, and these personnel files are now available for research, Information about the records’ availability is listed on the Internet; part of the purpose of this article is to eliminate some of the confusion surrounding that information. The National Archives site still states that researchers must submit a death certificate along with a whole list of information in a written request; however the CCC Legacy site says that some requirements changed in June 2009. The custody of the records of the CCC has been transferred from the Office of Personnel Management to the National Archives. This change means that there is now a cost to obtain copies of these records, but that a death certificate is no longer required. A note on the site indicates that if a death certificate is sent, it can help expedite the process and that you may receive more information. Even though the records are public, a screening has to be done for sensitive information. Since screening each record on a microfilm is not feasible, the microfilm cannot be viewed by visitors to the National Archive’s public research room. The contact information and costs for the requests can be found either at the National Archives site or the CCC Legacy site. Continue reading…

The Roosevelts, who found that you could marry a cousin.

Can You Marry Your Cousin?

A favorite blog of ours, Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, published a post asking the question, “Can You Marry Your Cousin?” In this thoughtful article, reprinted below, Mr. Eastman raises an excellent point: based solely on statistical probabilities, we may all in some way be related. Therefore, it’s not unlikely that your spouse may be related to you, even in a distant way.

Does this mean we should be asking more questions on a first date, to determine our shared lineage? Maybe, but I can’t imagine how awkward that conversation would be over getting-to-know-you drinks. Before you complicate your date, it may be helpful to first understand how you could be related to your date in the first place. The publication Kinship: It’s All Relative has been updated to help you untangle family relationships including same-sex marriage. This book helps answer both common and more specific questions. Do you know the degree of blood relationship between yourself and your first cousins? Between third cousins and second cousins once removed? Do you know anything at all about the removes? Do you understand the difference between a great-aunt and a grand-aunt? Or between a cousin-german and a cater cousin? And what about double first cousins? Continue reading…

"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor," by William Halsall, 1882 at Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Resources for Mayflower Research

This article was originally posted by the late Carolyn Barkley. We’re bringing it back with minor edits in honor of the Thanksgiving season. As mentioned, the author’s own roots are tied to the Thanksgiving story, making her knowledge that much more relevant.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. In addition to the turkey and trimmings, the approaching holiday is inextricably linked to the voyage of the Mayflower and its landing at Plymouth on the coast of Massachusetts. My primary purpose is to share information about the wealth of resources available about the voyage and its passengers, but first, as a native of Massachusetts and a thirty-seven year resident of Virginia, I’m obliged to muse momentarily on the origins of the thanksgiving event.

Growing up in Massachusetts, every school child’s attention is focused on the Mayflower passengers and their feast of thanksgiving held in 1621. The New England tradition, of course, flies in the face of Virginia’s claim to the first Thanksgiving, let alone that of St. Augustine, Florida, where a Thanksgiving celebration was held in September 1565! In 1619, a group of settlers left Bristol, England, and landed three months later at the present-day site of Berkeley plantation on the James River in Virginia. The tradition is that immediately after reaching sold ground, they fell to their knees and thanked God for their safe arrival. A rivalry about whether the Virginia event in 1619 or the Massachusetts event in 1621 represents the “real” Thanksgiving continues today. Both are re-enacted annually and I would suggest that they can coexist as different types of Thanksgiving events, although neither of them is the “first” in the New World. The Massachusetts event was a harvest festival in which the settlers gave thanks for the summer’s crops and their survival through the harsh first winter. They were joined by Wampanoag Chief Massasoit and about ninety of his men who brought venison and turkey. The Virginia event was a religious service of thanksgiving at which a meager meal of bacon, peas, cornmeal cakes and cinnamon water was served. (It is interesting to note that at the time of the Mayflower’s arrival, Massachusetts was considered to be a northern part of Virginia.) Thanksgiving proclamations were made by American presidents beginning with George Washington. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln formally designated Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be held on the final Thursday of November.

Who, then, were the individuals feasting and giving thanks in Massachusetts in 1621? Continue reading…

San Francisco, Gold Rush Era immigration

Gold-Rush Era Migration to California

Editor’s Note: The late Louis J. Rasmussen pioneered in transcribing ships’ passenger and overland passenger lists of individuals who braved the arduous cross (or around)-country journey in their migration to California beginning in 1849. Please click the links to see more information about his extensive works San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists Volume I [1850-1864], San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists Vol. II [1850-1851], and San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists. Vol. III: November 7, 1851 to June 17, 1852.

The cumulative effect of the massive rush of souls seeking their fortunes – by wagon, rail, steamship, or sail – transformed California from a sleepy backwater of the former Mexican Republic to Statehood in scarcely two years. Mr. Rasmussen captured the impact of this remarkable population upheaval in the Introduction to the second of his ship passenger volumes, which is excerpted below:

By 1851 the State of California had become a country unequaled almost in history for the rapidity with which the emigration of other countries sought residency. California became a sort of depot toward which everybody was pushing, and at which everybody stopped. Those who did not remain permanently either returned home or visited some other territory or country near the Pacific shores.

The Oregon Territory could serve as an example. In 1848 the territory was comparatively unknown, less known by far than California. By the year 1851, men were rushing into Oregon sowing her soil with wheat and converting her lofty pines into building material. A large percentage of the 1851 Oregon population had gone there from California.

The Sandwich Islands profited also by California. A new market for the rich products of the tropical soil of the Islands was opened by the settlement of California–and the island received accessions in the way of emigration. Mexico and several South American States were also areas in which men settled, after first acquiring financial stability in the mines and commerce of California.

During the first quarter of 1851, competition was fast bringing down the cost of travel between the United States and California. Continue reading…