Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gray Family Documentation for Sons of the American Revolution

Women who can trace their ancestry to someone who contributed to the creation of the United States of America by participating in the Revolutionary War are eligible to become members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.)

Men have a similar organization, The National Society, Sons of the American Revolution and their documentation is more readily available.

The images below are from the application of a member of Sutton's pioneer Gray family when he applied for membership in the sons of the revolutionary war organization. The images are not perfectly legible and the important text is repeated below:

The application was made by Thomas Gray Marsh of Oklahoma in 1970. Mr. Marsh identified himself as the son of Catherine Gray Marsh who was born in Sutton in 1906. Her father, Thomas Marsh's grandfather, was Homer W. Gray who was born in 1876 also in Sutton. Homer W.'s parents were John and Emma Gray who built the two houses that are in use as today's Sutton Museum. John Gray and his father, Col. Hosea, Wilson Gray were among the very first settlers in Sutton in 1871. Col. Gray was a veteran of the Civil War.

Each of these listings of the ancestral line in Thomas Gray Marsh's application lists the names of the spouses and the dates and places of their births, marriages and deaths making these applications valuable documents for family historians and genealogists.

Col. Gray's parents were Silas Gray and Omira Wilson who came from New York and Vermont. Silas was born in 1792 and his father was James Gray, born August 3, 1759 in New Boston, New Hampshire. James Gray is the Revolutionary War veteran who established the justification for all of his descendants to qualify for membership in the D. A. R. and the Sons organizations.

The application needs to establish the lineage of the applicant to someone who participated and it needs to describe that participation.

This second document is the next page of Mr. Marsh's application.

On this page, Mr. Marsh described what he knew about his ancestor's contribution to the cause of the founding of the United States. He listed three items.

Guarded Major Andre and witnessed his execution
Engaged in a number of battles
Served under Captain Bailey and Captain Hanley and also served under Col. Henry Jackson: State of Massachusetts.

The third item is probably the most important and those who try to verify the application have access to the rolls of the units that served in the war, especially the formal units formed by states. The incident about "Major Andre" may have been useful - it is probably a known story. The line about having been in a "number of battles" probably wasn't helpful. A list of battles would have been nice but clearly, Mr. Marsh and the Gray family didn't know specifics.

The criteria for membership in these organizations is not as strict as you might expect. The ancestor did not have to wear a uniform in an organized army unit. "Contributing" to the war effort includes merchants who sold goods to the army or donated funds to support units or supported the cause in other ways.

The next information on the page reference pension documents for James Gray and a D. A. R. document to further support Mr. Marsh's claim.

At the bottom is a place for the classic genealogical proofs: birth records, marriage records, death certificates  family bibles or other documents that support the facts and dates listed in the application. Since the application was completed in 1970 vast amounts of this kind of documentation has become readily available online and is used by family historians and genealogists to complete similar documents on individuals and families. A member of the Gray family filling out their own application today would be able to provide much more information and much better references for that information.

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