As our local DAR chapter's museum committee chairperson, I have the responsibility of providing a year-end report. Never having the pleasure of touring the national DAR offices and museum, I am relegated to taking virtual tours on-line. But as virtual tours go, the DAR on-line exhibits are quick, fascinating, and short of being there: fabulous!

Always intrigued with the unusual, I was pleasantly surprised to step into the current virtual tour: By, For and Of the People: Folk Art and Americana at the DAR Museum. It is the DAR's first ever exhibit of American Folk Art. A taste of purebred Americana; folk artists were untrained in the "fine arts" and produced folksy art pieces that also were sometimes utilitarian.

Winding my way through the exhibit, I was struck by the colorful and often playful works of art. And then I paused to gaze at one piece that "tickled-my-fancy": The Battle of Bennington by Anna Mary Robertson Moses. Yes, the ever-famous grandmother of the American Folk Art movement, Grandma Moses.
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The 'Battle of Bennington' by Grandma Moses
The painting is lovely and whimsical, just as her other works. But the subject caught my attention and I peered at the American Revolutionary soldiers dancing with danger across the canvas; firing their cannons and waving their flags.

True to her life, Grandma Moses painted the Battle of Bennington after she discovered, at the young age of ninety-two, that her great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution. Feeling inspired with her discovery, Anna Mary not only provided her interpretation of the Battle of Bennington on canvas; she also became a member of the DAR. When others at such an age would forego the adventure or lack the stamina to participate in a new organization, Anna Mary dove in and took off.

Myself becoming inspired by Grandma Moses' tenacity at life; I contemplated her budding interest in genealogy in her early nineties. When many of us peak with our ancestral search by our fifties and sixties; Anna Mary was invigorated with her newly discovered family tree while whisking into her nineties. One wonders where her creative mind would have taken her, if she had lived past her 101 years!

I suppose one can draw lessons from Anna Mary Robertson Moses; not only in her thirst for life but also in her quest for truth. To keep searching for the next intriguing story of your past. And whatever your timeline of life might be; always know that there is one more door to look behind.

And one more newly discovered ancestor waiting to "tickle-your fancy."

Keep searching for answers,

Cheryl
(Take your own DAR Museum virtual tour and check out the DAR Descendants Database to help with your ancestral search)

 
 
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As a 'newbie' genealogist years ago, I became quite empowered with my new-found skills. Quickly developing my on-line family tree and discovering ancestors unknown, I felt unstoppable. Records were popping up in front of me at every click of the button, lighting a fire that propelled me into my obsession. Feeling at awe with my skills, I was certain I could quickly apply for and become a member of every lineage society available. And being driven to prove my Revolutionary War ancestral lineage, I completed the DAR application form, attaching my records for proof and enthusiastically sent it off to Washington.

As the weeks passed, I continued to view my Ancestry.com tree, browsing for new records and basking in the glow of my accomplishment. I waited to receive my DAR congratulatory letter, wondering where I might store my membership certificate. 'Should I frame it?' 'Or perhaps place it in a photo album for safe keeping.' 'Well, I'll figure it out once I have the certificate in hand.'

But when the letter arrived, my confidence meter was shaken by the results: 'additional proof needed.'
With a knee-jerk reaction of defensiveness of my obvious flawless research, I attempted to convince myself 'they' were wrong and I was right. I 'dug my heels in', folded up the letter and stuffed it away in a kitchen drawer. 'What does the DAR know anyway and do I really want to go to their stuffy meetings?'

After a few days of licking my wounds, I picked up the letter once more to review their recommendations. Suggestions were provided for locating further proof of lineage and although I felt confident in my research, I conceded the DAR might have a slight edge of knowledge over me! So I pulled out my notes and records and sent off for further documents from the National Archves.

Feeling challenged by the 'know it alls' of the DAR, I diligently continued my research. And as the days and weeks passed, my detective work grew into an obsession. Looking through every record with a 'fine toothed comb', my eye began to pick up hints not previously noticed. Names spelled slightly different within search engines sometimes revealed new records of proof. I began to explore leads to documents that I had once discounted, reviewing them further and finding new clues. Like Sherlock Holmes, I was consumed with single handedly locating every possible record of proof of every ancestor for my application, proving the DAR had nothing over me!

And then I found it, the 'golden record': The missing link that provided the final connection of proof to my patriot ancestor. It was truly my 'ah ha moment' of genealogical research. The skies opened, the stars aligned and angels fluttered their wings! I did it and I knew I did it. I proved those DAR 'know it alls' wrong. I put the final piece of my research puzzle together, rewriting my application with numerous additional proofs and sent it back to Washington with a new-found feeling of omnipresence.

My congratulatory letter arrived a few weeks later and soon afterwards came the DAR membership certificate. With an immediate trip to the frame shop, the certificate was proudly hung in plain view for a constant reminder of my newly developed detective skills; skills that continue to be fine-tuned with every new lineage society application.

As I reflect on the experience, I now have a deeper perspective of the process. Genealogy is fun, exciting and typically thrilling but proving your actual lineage to an ancestor is a science. And proving connection to your ancestors, without a doubt, solidifies your lineage. As a result of the DAR application process, I developed a better eye for research and improved my skills. The DAR meetings have turned out to be less 'stuffy' and more worthwhile than first thought. And if I ever loose interest in genealogy, I can quickly whip up a resume for Sherlock's new sidekick.

The Daughters of the American Revolution have now made their website available to nonmembers for research. This can be a valuable tool in locating Revolutionary War patriots within your lineage and accessing member's proofs. Go to dar.org. And by all means, consider joining this wonderful organization.

Keep searching for answers,

Cheryl