Monday, July 30, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: In Search of the DAR

Amanuensis Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.

I did it.  Finally.  I contacted one of the many local chapters of the DAR about membership.  I’m not sure why I did that TODAY.  Maybe to fulfill my mother’s plan to join the DAR.  That’s why she started doing family research to begin with.  However, Momma never seemed to be much of a joiner in her younger years, certainly not pretentious or desirous of any prestigious status that DAR membership would imply.  So maybe she was just trying to figure out why her aunts had stopped working on the family tree.  Was there a really juicy story or dark secret?  Yeah, well, maybe a couple. At any rate, Momma never found the right patriot ancestor.

In truth, our patriot was not that hard to find.  It’s Leonard Davis who was born in Albemarle County, Virginia but lived the majority of his life in Rockingham County, Virginia.  His service has already been proven by others who trace their lineage through one of his daughters.  My line is through his son Leonard Jr.  Proving that Leonard Jr. was son of Leonard Davis sounds simple on the surface since there’s that “Junior” suffix that seems to speak for itself.  However, “Jr” was sometimes used simply to distinguish the older and younger person of the same name. 

Leonard Davis's service as a patriot is proved by his application for the pension due soldiers who had served during the Revolutionary War, but he had been denied on the grounds that two of his three witnesses were not considered credible.  So he tried again.  I have transcribed the second application.  (If you want the abbreviated version, click HERE.)  

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State of Virginia
County of Rockingham

On this 17th day of June 1833, personally appeared in open Court, Leonard Davis, aged 71 years, a resident of Rockingham County, and State of Virginia, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.
                That he entered the service of the United States, under the following named officers, and served as herein stated.
                He was born in Albemarle County, Va, and has no record of his age, his father having carried it to N. Carolina but thinks he was nineteen in 1781.  About twenty years since he removed to Rockingham, where he has resided ever since. In January 1781 he was drafted into the militia service in Albemarle County under Capt. John Hunton and Lieut. Isaac Davis.  He marched early in January to York, and thence to Hampton and then to Williamsburg with some prisoners, and then to Richmond, and was discharged, but got no written discharge. There was another company belonging to the same detachment under Capt. John Harris.  He was not in any engagement during this time, and served two months and twenty-five days.
                He marched from the same County again, about the last of April in the militia service as a draft under Capt. Isaac Davis, joined the army in Virginia somewhere between Richmond and Fredericksburg, and was shortly afterwards transferred to another Company under Capt. Leake of the Albemarle Militia.  Among the officers under whom he served he recollects Majors Boyd and Hoffler, and Genls. Wayne

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and Porterfield.  He was in two engagements during this time, one at Hot Water, and the other at James Town, and the army embarked immediately after the last engagement.  This tour was also served entirely in Virginia and he was discharged at Morban’s Hills, about twenty miles below Richmond, after having served three months and seven days but got no written discharge.
                For proof of his service, he relies on the affidavit of Capt. Isaac Davis, herewith submitted to the Court. He is old and infirm, and could not conveniently attend the Rockingham Court, and of John Hall also submitted, who is also unable to attend Rockingham Court.
                There is no clergyman residing in his neighbourhood whose attendance he can procure to give the usual certificate, but as he has produced satisfactory proof of his service he hopes the certificate will be considered unnecessary in his case.  He never received any written discharge, or commission, and has no documentary proof of his service.
                He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State.
                For his character for veracity and the belief of his revolutionary service in his neighbourhood, he refers to Mr. Wm. Kite, George Baugher, and Nickolas Baugher.
                Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
Leonard Davis (his mark)

And the Court do hereby declare their opinion, after the investigation of the matter, and after putting the interrogator as prescribed by the War department, that the above named applicant was a revolutionary soldier, and served as he states, and the Court doth further

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certify that it appears to them from the evidence, _____, that there was no clergyman residing in the neighbourhood of the said Leonard Davis, I Henry J. Gambill Clerk of the Court of Rockingham, do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original proceedings of the said Court in the matter of the application of Leonard Davis the aforesaid.
{Seal} In Testimony, whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal of my Office this 21st day of June 1833, and in the 57th year of the Commonwealth.
H. J. Gambill, Clerk of
Rockingham County Va.

The most interesting part of the application is the mention of battles fought.  Hot Water and James Town (Jamestown) are a two-three hour drive from Albemarle County on the Interstate TODAY.  I can’t imagine marching there on foot.

Next Monday, I’ll post the affidavits of witnesses.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Wendy, Good luck on your DAR application! I applied and have to provide additional documentation; I finally found it but need to get it written up and sent in.

    1. I have not yet been contacted, so I'm not sure how much work I have ahead of me. I'm worried about finding documentation for Leonard Jr and his son Mitchell, my 2g-grandfather. So many records in Rockingham County were burned during the Civil War.

  2. Interesting! I wonder why those two witnesses were not considered credible. There must be a whole other story there too.

    Congratulations on your pursuit of the DAR membership. I haven't decided yet on whether or not to pursue my DAR membership. You'll have to keep us updated on your progress. :)

    1. Well, in truth, I don't really need a club activity. I think I'm just curious about it. I wouldn't mind helping others do research.

  3. Wow. Good luck with the DAR process. It is on my 'To Do' list. I'll be interested in reading about how you proceed.

    1. I just hope I have something to report! I hope it's not just me whining about the difficulty.

  4. Wendy, that is so neat! These are amazing; congratulations.

    Kathy M.

  5. Welcome to DAR. I'm new myself to the one in Indiana. I finally found the one documentation I needed in a land transaction between a 2nd wife and her husband's heirs. I was related to the heirs. You find it in various places. I learned a lot doing the hunting though.

  6. I'm visiting on the recommendation of Kathy @ Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy. How coincidental that I plan to explore DAR membership also.

    1. My thanks to Kathy. I'm interested in hearing how your application process goes. I still have not heard from the chapter I contacted, so I haven't even begun. I do have some idea of things to be working on though.