Thursday, September 25, 2014

Finding Your Roots Review: In Search of Our Fathers

The first episode of the second season of Finding Your Roots ran on Tuesday, September 23 at 8 p.m. on PBS. Tuesdays are my late night at work and I don't get home until well after the broadcast. Sadness. BUT Cousin Mary gave me a heads up that PBS hosts the full episodes online and so I was able to watch it last night. Season 2 Episode 1 (S2E1) is available at

The guests on this episode included author Stephen King, actor Courtney B. Vance, and Canadian singer-actress Gloria Reuben. I did not know Gloria Reuben at all her genealogy was fascinating...but I'll get to that.

I really like this program as much as Who Do You Thing You Are? and maybe even more. The stories are really filled with world history and present excellent genealogy research skills. There is no facade that these celebrities conducted the research on their own. They did not. Although, it does make it seem like Louis Henry Gates, Jr. did all the research. To his credit though, he does say "we" an awful lot and does acknowledge other genealogist doing research for the program but not by their names.

Each episode will explore the ancestry of three celebrities. Each guest will walk away with a "Book of Life" and really, so so much more. You could really see how strongly each of these guest were moved by the ancestry revealed to them. It was really quite beautiful.

This week all three guests were interested in learning more about their fathers. Stephen King’s father abandoned Stephen and his mother when Stephen was just two. Courtney Vance’s father did not know his biological parents. Gloria Reuben’s father was 78 years old when she was born and died when she was very young.

One of the most amazing revelations, in my opinion, was the photo they found of Stephen King's father whom he had never seen. It wasn't just that Stephen hadn't see THAT photo, he never saw any photo of his father before that moment. That was powerful. 

In the research for Courtney Vance I feel the most powerful revelation came with the results of a DNA test. Courtney's father knew nothing of his biological parents. A scandal found through newspapers articles suggested that a specific Reverend in the Chicago community in which Courtney's biological grandmother could have been the father of Courtney's father. Present day DNA testing proved that the Reverend was not the father and yielded a Y-DNA match to another man which, if that man has no adoption in his patrilineal line, would give Courtney  a family surname for his father's lineage.

And in the case of Gloria Reuben, the most moving discovery, and as Gates expressed the most rare of findings, was the name and age of the woman who was Gloria's slave ancestor taken from Africa and brought to Jamaica.

Next week’s episode will feature tennis star Billie Jean King, New York Yankees Derek Jeter, and basketball player Rebecca Lobo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Free Webinar: NEHGS "How to Apply to Lineage Societies"

Apropos to my last posting about joining lineage societies, The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is offering a FREE Webinar on Tuesday, Sweptember 30, 2014 3 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. CDT; 1 p.m. MDT; 12 p.m. PDT) presented by, Genealogist Lindsay Fulton, called How to Apply to Lineage Societies: Tips from NEHGS.

"Want to join a hereditary society, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or the General Society of Mayflower Descendants? Don't know where to begin? Join genealogist Lindsay Fulton as she provides a step-by-step look at the application process, tips for when you can't find vital records, and examples from our research services team."

You can register at

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Joining a Lineage Organization

There are literally hundreds of lineage organizations based in the United States and thousands of them worldwide. Those are groups that limit membership to individuals who meet specific criteria based on their ancestry. In other words, they require their members to be descendants of a specific type of person of historical importance. 

I have recently been approved for membership to The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) but there are groups such as the :
  • Associated Daughters of Early American Witches
  • Children of the Confederacy
  • Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War
  • Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence 
  • First Families of St. Louis 
  • Hereditary Order of the Families of Presidents and First Ladies of America 
  • Holland Society of New York 
  • International Society of the Descendants of Charlemagne
  • Jamestowne Society
  • Mayflower Society 
  • National Society of Descendants of Early Quakers 
  • Order of Descendants of Colonial Physicians and Chirurgiens 
  • Pioneers of Alaska 
  • Society of Descendants of the Alamo 
  • Society of the War of 1812 
  • Sons of Utah Pioneers 
  • United Empire Loyalists' Association
...just to name a few. Basically, if you are descended from anyone of any historical importance  - - and who isn't? - - you can probably find a lineage based organization to join.

The next question that arises is why would one join such an organization. Well, maybe you're just into history or your cultural heritage. Organization of this vein help to promote the history of their cultural or historically significant events. They also often provide scholarships to their members and the descendants of members. They often do a lot of good supporting the needs of the community. You will probably also get a subscription to an interesting magazine from the organization, a shiny membership pin, and tons of friendships with others who have the same interest as you do. But the most significant reason I sought to join a lineage based organization was to validate the quality of my genealogy research. 

Nowadays with the advances in DNA one could probably take a simply saliva test to prove linage to a historical figure; and many of these types of organization are now accepting DNA as additional evidence for membership. If you read my posts on DNA research though, you know that you can share a common ancestor with someone very far back in history and not necessarily have any DNA in common that cousin. Cousin Mary at Threading Needles in a Haystack and I are 6th cousins (once removed) and AncestryDNA did not find us to be a genetic match. Yet she and I can document our individual lineages back to a couple who were married here on Long Island in the late 1700s.

So how does one go about joining a lineage organization?

Once you figure out who in your family history fits the particular criteria for membership to such a society, you must carefully document your ancestry back to that person. And I mean carefully. The amount of documentation required will vary by society. Some will have specific definitions as to what type of documents are considered "proof"  but generally you will have to provide documentation that links you to your parent, your parent to their parent, and so on using vital statistics records like birth, death, and marriage certificates. In instances where those type of documents do not exist, you will have to provide other sources of connection; church register entries, wills, property deeds, military service records, newspaper articles, etc.

For some lineage societies you may only have to link yourself to your parent and then, maybe, provide his or her military service record. In my case I had to document 8 generation of my lineage to join the DAR; from me to my patriot. Now if my mother had been a member of the DAR I would have only had to document my connection to her. And now that I am a member of the DAR, someday my niece could join with a lot less effort than I had to muster by simply linking herself to my mother through me. So the volume of documentation that is required for membership will vary from organization to organization and from circumstance to circumstance.

Just as always is the case with quality genealogy research, though, a considerable amount of time is often involved in completing a membership application. If like me, you have many generation to document you will probably have and a ton of records to submit - - - with citations!! Yes, citations as to where you obtained the documentation.

Some lineage societies will also require that you be "sponsored" meaning that a local chapter of the organization supports your application. So if you are thinking of joining a lineage society, reach out to them and they will help guide you through their application process.

And yes friends, there will be fees as there are with joining any organization. But I pay beaucoup bucks each year in fees and dues to belong to professional organizations for my job, why not join an organization that validates the quality of my genealogy research - - my research that I love so much?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Today I received word from the genealogist for my local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution that my application for membership has been accepted. It took me years of research and documentation. I documented 8 generation. No other woman in this line had ever applied for membership.

Generation 1: Me

Generation 2: My mom.

Generation 3: Her dad.

Generation 4: His mother, my great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth “Mayme” Sharp-Gardner.
Generation 5: Her father, my great-great grandfather, Daniel Sharp.
Generation 6: His mother, my 3rd great grandmother, Ann Moore.

Generation 7: Her mother, my 4th great grandmother, Eleanor Moore.
b. 1767 in Bedford, New Hampshire
d. October 19, 1836 in Kingsey, Quebec, Canada
m. 1784 to William Moore (b. 1763 in Londonderry, NH  - d. July 8, 1817 in Kingsey, Quebec, Canada)

William and Eleanor were first cousins. Willam, was the son of Lt. Colonel Robert Moore. Eleanor was the daughter of Colonel Daniel Moore of Bedford, NH.

Generation 8: Father of Eleanor Moore, Patriot Colonel Daniel Moore.

The DAR has other members who are known descendents of Daniel Moore but I am the first to submit the lineage of ...

Generation 8. Father of William Moore, Patriot Lt. Colonel Robert Moore.