Saturday, October 2, 2010

Unlikely DARlings and Assumption Traps

In looking into joining the DAR, I was confronted with a serious error in thinking on my part.  One day, while perusing the DAR Patriot Index I discovered that I had more Patriots in their database than I had previously thought.  I was at a low point in that moment because I'd just completed several days of fruitless research on Anne Coles Mott, the ancestor I wanted to join through.  I was pretty frustrated, so in a huff I sat down and made a list of every man between fifteen and one hundred at the time of the war in my family tree.  Then I started plugging them in to the Patriot Index.  Most of the ones I didn't expect to pan out didn't, but there were a few surprises along the way as well.  I'm a little ashamed that I didn't know that they were in there already and even more ashamed at the reason WHY I didn't even bother to look before now.  Assumptions, that is the simple, honest answer for why I never even bothered to look them up until until that day.  Let me explain:

Assumption #1 I made: "He was a Quaker, therefore he couldn't have participated in the Revolutionary War."

WRONG.  I have a family tree loaded with 17th and 18th Century Quakers and nine times out of ten, they were pacifists as well and did not participate in any of the conflicts of their time.  In my John Shinn's case, I was wrong.   He served in the Quartermaster General's Dept. during the war. It is a pretty safe bet that a Quaker ancestor was a pacifist and therefore tried to stay neutral during a conflict, but as I've learned, it isn't a sure thing.

Assumption #2 I made: "He was too old to have fought in the war, therefore he couldn't have participated in it."

WRONG.  Moses Morse was a fifty-four year old grandfather in 1776 when he signed the Association Test in Boscawen, New Hampshire along with all but one citizen in the town.  This service was enough to get someone into the DAR through Moses.  You don't need to have bared arms to have supported a cause.

Assumption #3 I made: "He was from England, his family was loyal, therefore he couldn't have participated on the side of the rebels during the war."

WRONG.  Thomas Smith was born in either Ireland or England and was possibly related to the Douglas family of Scotland.  He married Mary Green and they came to America in the midst of the Boston Tea Party.  They had a son, named after a hero of the Royal Navy (and a rumored relative) and they settled in a city that was a British stronghold during the war.  Mary was a fervent Tory, Thomas was not.  For whatever reason, they were split on their loyalties which I imagine made for a pretty tense home life.  Thomas gave shoes to American soldiers in New York City during the war (he was a cordwainer by trade) and was reportedly charitable to a fault, especially with colonial troops.  He never served in a military capacity however, probably because he was around fifty at the beginning of the war.  He did serve on the New York Committee of Safety which was enough to get someone into the DAR through him.  Family loyalties don't always dictate personal ones.

Another ancestor, the illustrious and discussed ad naseum Anne Coles Mott, qualifies based on her war service.  I've had to rethink joining through Anne recently, but once I'm in I fully intend to add her as a supplemental line. 

Speaking of Anne, she poses another potential "assumption trap."  As a woman it would have been easy to disregard her service in the war.  Honestly, the only reason I never did dismiss her service is because at the time I began looking into DAR she was the only person I knew of that for sure did anything on the colonial side and that I also had some documentation for already.

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