For Part One, click here.
So, you have a relative that fought in the American Revolution and you want to know more… now what? Joining an organization, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), is a lengthy and detail-oriented process. It takes patience and perseverance. Before beginning the process, I attended a research seminar hosted by the local chapter to learn about the specific requirements for applying. If you have any experience with records, the one consistent theme is that records do not consistently capture the same information. Some death records do not list birth-dates, birth records do not always list both parents, and worst-case scenario, many records can be lost, stolen or severely damaged.
As I mentioned in part 1, my grandmother provided me with a box of documents detailing the Bitely heritage. The materials she gave me was helpful for pointing my path forward, but it lacked the necessary vital records for completing the application. Luckily, each chapter has a registrar that guides you through finding the right resources and completing the paperwork accurately. The registrar in my chapter was a seasoned member of DAR and walked me step by step through the process. Together, we reviewed the documents from my box, made a family tree and contacted the Michigan vital records department for appropriate birth, death and marriage certificates for each generation between John and me. Thankfully, both New York and Michigan had the records I needed, in good condition and had the required information on them to meet DAR standards. If you hit a snag in the process, there’s an entire community of DAR women who are trained to help you through this. Reach out, we will help!
After gathering the records and completing the paperwork, I then shipped the application, a check and copies of vital records for myself, parents and 300 years of Bitelys to DAR headquarters for review. Each application is checked and rigorously scrutinized to ensure the lineage is correct. 10-12 weeks later I was informed via email that my application was accepted. A large packet was then shipped to my house with my official certificate and my local chapter swore me in.
You might be thinking, this is a lot of work to join a club. Well, in some ways you are correct. This process did require a lot of work. But on that journey, I met a lot of great women with stories of their own. I connected with women who have been trying to get all the pieces collected for over two years! I also found myself more connected to history in general. I started following Fort Ticonderoga on Facebook after remembering my grandpa’s words, “The Bitelys were there!” I found myself looking up the local history for Paw Paw, Michigan were many of my relatives farmed. I’m now planning a trip to XX NY to see the old Bitely homestead.
This organization also does a lot for the community. My chapter alone sponsors markers for local historic sites, greets veterans on honor flights, holds community service projects and gives back to troops and their families who are keeping our nation safe, just to name a few examples. Taking this journey taught me about myself and my community. Take a step and see where it leads. For more information about DAR, visit their website: https://www.dar.org/