“Cuz I said so” is not a good answer when the DAR asks why you deserve to be a member of this prestigious organization. You can’t go on family lore. You can’t just have a pretty printed family tree. You can’t say you saw it on Ancestry. Nope. You have to have the concrete evidence.
“Evidence” is defined ideally as the actual certificates of birth, death, and marriage. When those are not available, other forms of evidence can be used including family bibles, pictures of tombstones, church records, military records, newspaper articles, even family letters.
To keep myself straight, I created an Excel spreadsheet to record what evidence I have, what I still need, and where I should look.
One of the FEW shortcuts in the application process is to intersect with an already proven patriot. I knew my ancestor Leonard Davis had already been recognized through the efforts of a descendent of Leonard’s daughter, Sarah Davis Lamb. Not much of a shortcut for me. I don’t descend through Sarah, but I looked at the parts of the application available online to see if there is anything to help me.
And while looking, I was distracted by the lure of other possible patriot connections. I searched for other family names. Angus Rucker came up. I knew he was a proven patriot, but I have never been sure he is “mine.” Eleven applications through five of Angus’s children are listed. One of them is John Franklin Rucker, my ancestor, who has for years been the focus of a Rucker debate.
The Rucker Society is HUGE. Rucker researchers are numerous. And they historically have been divided about this John Franklin. Some say he was the son of Jarvis; some say he was the son of Angus. Both had sons named John who moved from Madison County to Rockingham in Virginia. Not so easy to determine one from the other.
There is strong circumstantial evidence to say John Franklin was son of Angus. First of all, his daughter Eliza Rucker Baugher named one of her sons Angus. Why not honor her Revolutionary War hero-grandfather? Second, his son Frank Rucker named one of his sons George Allen, the same name as John Franklin’s brother.
But circumstantial evidence isn’t good enough for the DAR.
I wanted to see what the applicant knew that I didn’t. How did she prove her connection to Angus through John Franklin? I paid the $10 to download a copy of the application. I knew from looking at a sample application that I would not see copies of the actual documents that served as proof, but I should be able to see the bibliographical information.
But drat it all -- there is no true bibliography. Instead, there are just code numbers for each level of proof. I guess the shortcut isn't so short after all.
Good news: my sister and I have two patriots.
Bad news: my sister and I have doubled our workload.