Many people would consider themselves privileged to be able to trace their lineage back to even one person who was among the original patriots who fought for America’s independence. Back in 2013, I was beyond overjoyed to get notification that the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution had approved my application proving my family’s lineage back to Adam Link, one of those patriots. This week, I now count our family among the truly fortunate, as it appears that I’ve been able to prove our lineage back to yet another patriot who fought for the cause of American independence!
This journey started not with a mission as my first one did, but with an accidental discovery. This past Christmas, my wife and kids and I went up to Indiana and Kentucky to visit family for the Holidays, and while we were in Louisville, I decided to take the opportunity to visit the SAR National Headquarters in Louisville. While there, my kids and wife were patient enough to let me to a little bit of research in the SAR library. As I was doing what was more or less random surname searches (I hadn’t really planned on doing any research, so I didn’t have a true objective – not a great place to be normally), I found a few old Daughters of the American Revolution applications that were tracing lineage back to a Robert McCleary. The applications mentioned Alexander McCleary as one of his children. I knew that Alexander was my great, great, great-grandfather, so to say the least – the hunt was on!
My first step in the process was to order the record copy of the DAR application to see if it would be admissible now. Last year, both the DAR and SAR adopted policies that resulted in many older applications (pre-1985) be inadmissible as lineage evidence without further research being done. While the policy is a very good one for the genealogical integrity of future applications, it can have the result of a previous application providing nothing more than “sign posts” to where to do further research. In my case, I was somewhat lucky and unlucky at the same time. This application is likely on the border of being admissible. But where I lucked out was that the supporting documentation for the file exists and gave me hard genealogical evidence for my application.
When Robert McCleary died in 1827, he apparently died intestate and left behind his wife, Jane, and eight children, one of whom (Mary) was a minor. One of Robert and Jane’s older daughters, Nancy, filed a suite in Orphan’s Court to request a division of Robert’s land and to become the legal guardians of young Mary. The transcript of this suite was contained in the DAR supporting documentation, and quite specifically laid out the relationships among Robert, his wife, and their children. In addition to the Orphan’s Court proceedings, the DAR documentation included a copy of the will that Jane left behind when she died years later in 1851. (Apparently, Jane learned a lesson from Robert having not left a will behind.)
These two pieces of evidence helped to take care of what I have found to be one of the harder genealogical tasks – proving family relationships in the late 1700s and early 1800s. For those time periods, Wills, land transfer records and bible records are often the only significant clues left behind, and at least so far in my family research, those clues have been extremely sparse! Proving Robert and Jane’s birth and death dates were also made much easier by the fact that both of their gravestones still exist in decent shape and the various court documents made mention of their death dates.
Proving the family relationships for Robert on down to my generation was relatively easy because their was a significant paper trail of the lives of the various generations. The only other generation that I had to rely on something other than an official public record was for Robert’s son, Alexander. Ohio didn’t start doing death and birth certificates until the early 1900s, so for Alexander and his wife Elizabeth’s birth and death dates, I had to rely on their tombstones. Again, thankfully, their stones were of the type that listed not only their date of death, but also specifically spelled out how old they were when they died – 66 years, 9 months and 11 days in the case of Alexander.
My lineage from Robert McCleary is:
Robert McCLEARY b. 1761
d. 7 Jan 1827
m. Jane CLOGSTON (?) in 1790
Alexander McCLEARY b. 15 Aug 1798
d. 26 May 1865
m. Elizabeth McCORMICK (?)
Hannah McCLEARY b. 12 Feb 1835
d. 4 Oct 1908
m. Samuel Hill 18 Nov 1869
Franklin J. Hill b. 26 Feb 1873
d. 4 Jun 1935
m. Clara Paessler 18 Apr 1901
Hannah Hill b. 24 Jul 1903
d. 28 Sep 1978
m. Earl Link 16 Jun 1925
Suzanne LINK b. 14 Jul 1944
d. 27 Dec 2006
m. Edwin WASHLER 27 Jul 1968