Thursday, October 15, 2009

DAR Lineage Questions - Part 1

Last weekend I spent a day and a half at the Allen County Public Library attending the 2nd Annual Military Symposium. This year's topic was Military Lineage Societies. Lectures focused on Revolutionary War, Civil War, Spanish-American War and WWI societies.

This workshop inspired me to start thinking about how my own research can help me join a lineage society. So I have been looking into some of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) lineage books for my ancestors.

But I have come across two issues. I don't know all of the history of getting into the DAR and what research is (or was) required. But I have major issues with two of my revolutionary war ancestors.

My first issue is with John Shepherd. A family history of the family states that John Shepherd served in the French and Indian War as well as the Revolutionary War. He died in 1846 at the age of 117 years.

I have always been skeptical of this man. Did he really live that long? Did he really serve with George Washington? Some of the story seemed a little too good to be true. Proof from the family history book of his service is the Pennsylvania Archives (obviously there can't be another John Shepherd).

Then I found his pension file on Footnote. (Finally found I should say because it was listed under the surname John and given name Shepherd in Pennsylvania. This is not a Footnote problem, but how it was filed at the National Archives.) He was DENIED a pension (his pension number was R9485). Unfortunately, his application files are missing. They were sent to a representative in Congress to look into getting him a pension. But it appears that it was never granted and the file was never returned to the pension office.

The reason for not giving him a pension was that he stated that he was discharged at a hospital by a doctor who was retired before the date that John gave for his discharge. I wish that I had the rest of the file to see the back and forth between John and the pension office.

Here is where we get back to the DAR. Three women have obtained DAR membership with John's service. How do you get into a lineage society for ancestors who served in the Revolutionary war when your ancestor was denied a pension? How do you get in with proof of service with a common name?

I would love to hear your comments on this case. Send me an email to or leave a comment below.

Next time I will discuss my issues with Moses Russell's descendants and proof of lineage (an even more confusing case).


  1. Hi Tina,
    Just because he was denied a pension, it doesn't mean that he wasn't in the military. Your John Shepard achieved the rank of Sergeant under the following commands:

    To date 34 members claim him as their patriot ancestor.

    If you would like further details, please email me and I'd be happy to help.

  2. Oh I forgot to add - check the Congressional Serial Sets for his pension review.

  3. Tina,
    I am working on my application now. If you have an aunt or cousin who was a member you can use the short form for the DAR, using the proofs they already submitted. To go the long form route takes more work but I am surprised at some of the forms of proof they will accept. If there is a local DAR chapter near you, contact their registrar and she should be able to help you determine what is acceptable. There are also other forms of service besides soldier that you can use and they are listed on the DAR website.