I began searching in earnest when I retired and finally had the time to work on my research. I had hints of Patriot possibilities but I had not found a “smoking gun”, that hint that leads to a break through. It wasn’t until my husband and I moved back to Florida to be closer to my Dad after my step-mother had a massive stroke. We were in Ocala and I decided to contact the DAR about completing my goal. The Florida State Society pointed me to the two chapters in Ocala & I chose the one closest to where we lived at the time — Rainbow River Chapter NSDAR. Rainbow River was just being formed & their first Registrar, Carole Kameswaran, was a big help to me in searching. I had found a link to one of my White lines in the Emery family of Maine. The only problem was that even though there was an existing application for this Patriot, Job Emery, it was old & I would have to basically proved his service again. It was a weak link. Carole recommended that I search again & see if I could find another Patriot whose service was not questioned. It took a bit but we found him — Jeremiah Keith from Massachusetts. Now all I had to do was collect the documentation for my application.
I had a good bit of information, but my father’s father was somewhat of a mystery. According to Margaret’s research, the White Family had come over to America in 1635 and our first ancestor, Thomas White, settled in Weymouth, Massachusetts. They stayed there until Benjamin White Senior Esq., who was born in Weymouth, moved the family to Middleboro where he died in 1774. The family stayed in Middleboro until 1880 when William Emery White moved his family to Ormond Beach Florida. I found this out through William Emery White’s pension papers. He had fought in the Civil War for Massachusetts and was entitled to a pension. In his pension papers he had to state where he had lived after he left the military service. In the 1880 census the family is listed living in Middleboro, but the pension papers were filed in Florida in 1897. In the papers he states that that he lived in Massachusetts until 1880, then moved to Ormond, Volusia County, Florida, and finally Jacksonville, Florida. Given the loss of the 1890 census documents, the pension papers were a goldmine of information for me.
DAR requires that the first three generations be documented with birth, marriage, and death records if available. That is your information, your parents information, and your grandparents information. I had all the information on myself & my parents, but my grandparents were a challenge. My father’s father, Sterling Emery White, was born in Jacksonville Florida. So I wrote to the Florida Vital Records department to get his birth record. I had found a census record from 1910 which showed his birth should have been in 1903 but I needed the primary record, i.e., the birth record itself. Unfortunately it was before births were required to be recorded. There was no birth record for him. I have a number of Census records which confirm his age as well as his SS-5 form which was filed when Social Security came into being. I also had his draft registration for WWII which supported his birth date from 1903. They are not primary records, but in the absence of primary records they are good secondary records.
I had the same problem with my father’s mother, Marie Overbey, no birth record found yet. I am still searching but I needed documentation to prove her birth. I had the 1910 census which indicated she was born around 1902. Again, as with my grandfather I had to use secondary records to prove her birth. These were several census records and an SS-5 record she completed in 1935. The SS-5 form is useful because it is a government form that was required, and it was completed by the person themselves. It lists their full name — including maiden name if married. It lists their birth date and their parents names. All of this information is very useful in genealogical research. While not a primary record it is a good secondary record when you do not have the primary record.
I now need my grandparents marriage records.
My grandparents had been divorced around the time my father was 2 or 3 years old. My father knew very little about his father. I kept kicking myself that I didn’t ask these questions earlier of Margaret Lane, she would have known. However luck came my way in the form of a marriage announcement in the Atlanta Constitution paper. The announcement said they were married April 30, 1921 at the Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. Another interesting fact in that announcement, which was put in the paper by my great-grandmother, was my grandmother’s name. I had always known her first name to be Marie, but the announcement listed her name as Evelyn Marie. This is interesting because growing up my great-grandmother was known at Mamie, but her SS-5 form lists her full name as Mary Evelyn Fife Overbey. They both were named Evelyn but neither used it. I have yet to find an actual marriage license or registration but am still looking.
Now I needed to look up my grandparents death records. I wrote to the Georgia Department of Vital Records and got my grandmother’s death record from 1981, my first actual vital record for my grandparents. I was unsure of the actual date of death for my grandfather but knew the year of death was 1967. Again I had luck with a newspaper obit. The website Newspapers.com is part of the Ancestry subscription at certain levels, but to get smaller papers you have to add that premium subscription. I received a notice that they had added the Ithaca Journal to their premium subscription. My grandfather had lived in Watkins Glen, a nearby village, at the time of his death. I thought maybe it might have an obit for my grandfather. I added the premium subscription and was able to find his obit which also listed my father & uncle by name as his only children. This was wonderful because now I had a date of death. I was so excited but when I went to NY State to get a copy of his death certificate I found out that I could not request a copy of his death certificate for another 10 months, only a child of his could. Well thank goodness my father was still living. My uncle had died in 2008 and there was only Dad left. So I had my dad sign the request for a death certificate & we waited. New York has a rule that only a child or parent of the person can order a death certificate if the date of death is less than 50 years. I was trying to get this death certificate in February of 2017 and he had died 4 Dec 1967. But my dad as a child did not have the 50 year problem.
My dad had never shown a great interest in family history, but I was surprised how interested he was in his father’s death certificate. He never talked about not growing up without a father in his life but I always wondered how much it really bothered him. But he was very interested in the death certificate & what information was on it. My grandfather had died of complications from colon cancer. That is a useful piece of information for my brothers & I.
So I now had the vital records that I needed the most. I then began gathering what information I could about the later generations. Much of it was via Ancestry or FamilySearch, which are two of the best online resources. They also help point you in the right direction to gather your documents. I have now started a Dropbox file folder for all my ancestors, putting in the documents I find as I gather them so they are easier to identify. If you don’t know about Dropbox it is a cloud services subscription that I have been using for over 10 years. I keep all my important papers in Dropbox so I don’t have to worry about them & they are available whether I am on my computer, phone, or tablet.
I packaged up all my documents & got them to Carole. She went through everything & we refined what we needed to send in. My application was signed and sent off to DAR in Washington DC on 12 May 2017. I was lucky, it was approved and I was granted membership on 5 August 2017. My DAR goal was completed!
The most amazing thing about my DAR process is that in my searches I found my Patriot Jeremiah Keith. During my researching his history I found that he was a descendant of Reverend James Keith who came to America in 1661 or 1662 and was the first minister of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. I then found a reference in a document to a Daniel Keith who was the listed in Vol 12 of the Mayflower silver books. Daniel Keith was the father of of Jeremiah Keith, my DAR Patriot. He was also the son of John Keith & Hannah Washburn, who was a direct descendant of Francis Cooke. Vol 12 of the Mayflower silver books lists Francis Cooke, a Mayflower passenager, and five generations of his descendants. I had my Mayflower connection. All I had to do was prove that Daniel Keith was the father of my Jeremiah Keith and get my documentation together for the Mayflower Society. I was granted membership in November 2018 as a direct descendent of Francis Cooke through his daughter Jane Cooke. I had reached my second goal.