Sunday, December 7, 2014

DAR - On the Road to Membership

Please don’t use the SEARCH box to learn when I last updated my efforts to secure membership in the prestigious DAR.  Suffice it to say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

A few weeks ago, the registrar of the Fort Nelson chapter had had enough of Mary Jollette’s and my foot-dragging routine.  “Let’s meet,” she said.  To sweeten the deal, she suggested we meet at a local coffee and sandwich shop instead of the chilly clubhouse where heat is run only when the old guard is in session. 

A few mocha lattes later, we were focused and had a plan.

The PLAN:  contact our cousin Glenn’s widow Fran about the Davis family Bible and contact a friend in Rockingham County to do some footwork at the courthouse.  

Davis Bible
Davis family Bible
I had brought my latest discoveries to the meeting.  I had managed to spy my patriot Leonard Davis SENIOR living in the household of his daughter-in-law, Frances Davis, in 1840.  (It was on that sneaky second page of the census that doesn't come up in a normal name search on Ancestry.)  Her name as Head of Household sent the strong message that she was a widow.  But there is nothing that says Leonard was her late husband’s father.  No problem for the invincible registrar – she’ll write an analysis arguing the point.

However, the problem of PROOF still rests in that 5th generation, the “poison generation,” as the registrar called it.  Apparently those are the years when records were oh so ho hum, not kept, not required, or burned in some fire.  So even though in census after census my 2X great-grandfather Mitchell Davis was living next door to his mother Frances, it means nothing to the DAR without more reliable proof such as a will, a birth record, a family Bible, a family diary. 

It turns out Fran had returned the family Bible to Glenn’s mother who then offered to send it to us.  We received it in a couple days, but unfortunately the Bible didn’t contain the really OLD information we were seeking.  

Then Serendipity came knocking at the door.

Barry is required by the bank where he works to take off 5 days in a row.  (Some federal regulation about having enough time to see if he is up to no good.)  He suggested we take those days to visit family in Rockingham County.  He even said, “You can do some research at the courthouse.”  Who WAS this man and what did he do with my husband??

1881 Deed Davis to Davis
1881 Rockingham County, VA
Davis to Davis  Deed Book 20, p. 212
So for two days, I set up camp at the courthouse on Main Street.  As expected there was no birth record and no will.  But I found deeds.  Two of ‘em.  One dated 1881 was the WIDOW Frances and all her children and children-in-law selling Leonard’s land.  The other was Mitchell and his brother Elijah and mother – the widow Frances – selling their rights and interest in the Leonard Davis estate to Sarah Davis, sister and daughter of the grantors.  Cha-ching ~

Write that analysis, Madam Registrar.  DAR, here we come! 

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. How exciting, Wendy! Well done on finding the deeds and best of luck with your application.

  2. Great work! I had the easy part. You are the best. Now get out your Jell-O Salad recipes! HA!

  3. Whoo Hoo! Congratulations on your find. What a wonderful husband! What a good plan too! Now does that mean you might want to go to the LVA more often? I'm hoping so!

  4. I've never heard of the "poison generation" but I am also trying for the DAR with major documents missing. I know my grandmother died but I guess she was never born. She was listed as a step-daughter on the census even though she lived with her father. I guess I need a 5 day trip to Missouri and I am also fortunate that my husband supports my efforts. Great post that gives me hope.

  5. What a fortunate find, Wendy! Sometimes that grunt work pays off. Congratulations! Looking forward to hearing the confirmation that you're in.

  6. How exciting for you, Wendy! The Bible would have been the easy answer, if only it had contained what you needed. It just proves (again) that there's more than one way to solve a problem. Congratulations.

  7. Wendy,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  8. A little late to the party but you've just inspired me to get back to that DAR application. While I think I have pretty good documentation, I'm betting I have a lot of work to do. And the fact that I live in Washington and my patriot lived in Connecticut and Ohio might make that rather challenging.