Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm in the D.A.R.!

It's been a crazy-busy week for me, but I couldn't let it pass by without shouting out my excitement at having my application verified to join the Daughters of the American Revolution!

What is D.A.R? 
It's a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children.

How does one join? 
Any woman who is 18 years or older and who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership. I have several ancestors on both sides of my family who fought in the American Revolution, but let me tell you, it's TOUGH proving these lines with documentary evidence.

My patriot: Nathaniel Brittain
I finally managed to prove one of my lines all the way back to Nathaniel Brittain, my GGGGG grandfather who fought and died in the American Revolutionary War. Nathaniel was born in 1734 in Chesterfield, Virginia, to James Brittain, an immigrant from Wales, and his wife, Mary Whitty. Nathaniel married Elizabeth Parks in 1760 and they raised eight children.

Not a lot is known about him, but we do know that Nathaniel enlisted and served as a Private in Captain Jonathan Clark's Company, 8th Virginia Regiment, on March 4, 1776. He died while in service on October 17, 1776.

How did I prove this ancestry?
Well, it took a long time and a lot of online searches, phone calls and letter writing to find all the documents needed to prove that I am, indeed, descended from Nathaniel Brittain. My search started with my Grandma Edith's records. She had already laid out the path for me, and I just needed to follow it to gather the documents I needed to prove, generation by generation, her theory about Nathaniel. and were invaluable online sources, as was good old Google. I also made many phone calls to various county courthouses, libraries and historical societies. A very nice woman named Kandi went to an Iowa courthouse to make a copy of a marriage record I needed. Another helpful woman took the time to scan and email a copy of my great great grandfather's cemetery record to me. And, I found a fifth cousin, Jennifer Woods, over at Climbing My Family Tree, who is also trying to join D.A.R. through Nathaniel Brittain. She and I put our heads together and managed to break through some solid brick walls. She's getting her application together and we're both excited about joining this great organization this year. And my friends in the Knitting Genealogists group at Ravelry offered advice, tips and much encouragement. See, genealogy is a team sport!

What's next?
Now, I bask in my glory! Actually, I'm still not completely IN the organization. My application has been verified, but I have to wait until February 5, when the D.A.R. holds it's national meeting and officially accepts my application. I'm told this is a formality. Then, I get to take my oath at my local chapter meeting in San Francisco. I'll have to wait until April to do this since I have prior commitments in March.

I'm proud of my ancestor and proud to be part of a family that played an important role in the founding of our country. I have a good five or six more patriots, on both sides of my family, that I'm working to prove. I hope that my participation in the D.A.R. will help me with that quest, and I also look forward to working with the La Puerta de Oro chapter to give back to our country and community through their many volunteer efforts. I'll be sure to blog any interesting happenings with the D.A.R. and how it relates to genealogy!


  1. Good job Wendy! It's easy to say, 'yes let me show you in my Grandma's papers'...but it's whole 'nother thing actually proving it with official dove. Way to go cousin.

  2. Ok my iPad does some weird corrections...that would be 'docs' not dove in the above comment. =\

  3. Thanks, Jen and Vikki!

    Hey, Jen -- keep an eye out for tomorrow's post. =)

  4. Awesome! You must feel a huge sense of satisfaction. You have also opened many eyes to the possibility of ever considering trying to do likewise; very inspiring.

  5. Thanks, Elizabeth and Amy! It's been a really fun process.

  6. I'm related by way of the same person, Nathaniel Brittain. I think I would like to join D.A.R. too!! My path to Nathaniel is:
    my dad
    his dad, my grand father, Gerald Dean Brownawell
    his dad, my Ggrand father, Frank Lee Brownawell
    his mom, my GGgrand mother, Laura Etta Brittain
    her dad, my GGGgrand father, Robert Brittain
    his dad, my GGGGgrand father, Francis McGuire Brittain
    his dad, my GGGGGgrand father, Parks Brittain
    his dad, my GGGGGGgrand father, Nathaniel Brittain

    I assume you know Nathaniel's dad was in the Revolutionary War too. What was the major stumbling block to proving your ancestry?

  7. Hi DilbertGirl! I believe there are a few ladies who have joined that are descended from Francis McGuire Brittain. I'm descended from his brother, Milton Price Brittain. My stumbling block was proving that Milton was Parks' son, and I was finally able to prove that with a marriage record that showed Milton getting married on the same day as one of his sisters -- there was a link to Parks there. I also used a history of Parks Brittain that was written by one of Francis McGuire's sons (James Grason Brittain). It took both documents to prove that one link!

    I'm now working on proving several other patriots and running into issues such as lost documents due to burned down courthouses. It's a never-ending search, but it's fun.

    Feel free to email me if you need help with your application! I have some basic documentation from on your family down to Frank Lee Brownawell, and am happy to share if you don't already have it.

    Cheers, -wendy

  8. Wendy, I sent you an email and would welcome any insight into the process. THANKS!!!!

    I also noticed you had quiet a lot of information on your James Grason on The pics, the 92nd birthday letter from his son... all so sentimental. I had stumbled across the article in the Chillicothe paper last week and sent it to my dad to see if he recognized any of the names and he did not.

  9. Congrats, I have been doing some online searches, and recently discovered tonight that Nathaniel Brittain is also my GGGGG Grand Father. I guess that makes us distant cousins somehow, but either way congrats on all the work you did. I'm a guy so obviously I can't join the DAR LOL, but I know how exciting it is to know part of our family goes back that far in this country.

    Good luck in the DAR


  10. Thanks, Charlie. You might be able to join Sons of the American Revolution! I agree that it's exciting to find our own family roots in America's history. I'm compelled to continue looking for more, and I'll write about it here!

    Thanks much for your comment, and I look forward to hearing from you again. =)

  11. Oh, Wendy we are distantly related! My 3 or 4 great Grandfather was his Son Elder William Brittain buried in Texas. My sister and I want to join the DAR after finding out just tonight we had a grandfather who died in the revolution.

  12. According to the "Bicentennial History of Lee County Virginia 1792-1992", Parks was never mentioned as the son of Nathaniel Brittain and Elizabeth Parks. I do believe that his father was Nathaniel and an unknown woman. Perhaps he was a quadroon, and that his father gave him the name of Parks to cover it up. Just a theory.

  13. Hello,

    A distant cousin here, Parks Brittain does indeed descend from Nathaniel and Elizabeth Parks, genetically speaking of course, i have several DNA connections to Parks and his siblings as well as his parents ancestors. If you descend from Parks Brittain and one of his 3 wives then you should be seeing the surname's Russell, Adams, Ramsdell etc in your matches on ancestry.

    My connection- Martha Brittain born 1835 either Indiana or Kentucky not sure yet, Most of my matches that surround the area of Indiana she lived are matches to Parks Brittain and his brothers that moved from the east into Kentucky and Indiana. Although Parks removed to Iowa to be near his dtr some of his children remained in Indiana.

    I would love to share information as in my research I have confirmed through DNA matches that Nathaniel and Elizabeth are indeed Martha's ancestors either grandparents or great grands.

    Your cousin Heather