Disproving a "Proven" Lineage

Or ...How to Make Enemies in North Carolina.

Early in 2000 I was working on a set of supplemental papers for DAR. For non-genealogists, that means I was trying to prove descent from an American patriot other than the one I "used" to join DAR. I based my research on a set of papers submitted and approved in 1992 for an ancestor named Jacob Hollingsworth. My lineage tied into Generation 6 of the other member's lineage, although through a different spouse. According to the application papers:

  • Jacob Hollingsworth, the patriot, was born c. 1741 in Chester County, PA and died c. 1823 in Franklin County, GA. He was married to Mary Brooks.
  • Their son, Samuel, was born c. 1770 in NC and died May 15, 1815 in Franklin County, GA. He was married to Mary Barner.
  • Their son, John, was born September 3, 1792 in Franklin County, GA and died November 30, 1880 at Ford's Mountain, AL. He married Matilda White. (I am descended from his second wife, Zilpha Galloway, who was not mentioned in these papers.)
  • "Descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth" was cited as a source although some dates were a bit off. Another member's papers were also cited.
  • His service was proven by an Application for Pension dated November 5, 1838 found in the Pennsylvania Archives.

Now as I began to complete my papers for this ancestor I noticed that some things did not quite add up. If Jacob died in 1823 in Georgia, how did he file for a pension in 1838? Perhaps his widow filed? Better check it out, so I ordered a copy of the pension papers.

When the papers arrived I discovered that they were filed by the veteran in 1838 while he was living in Chilton, Anderson County, TN. In fact, the Jacob who filed for a pension in 1838 was rejected because he did not have an actual discharge paper. He claimed it was signed by George Washington himself but had been lost at some point along with his wallet. So his service was still questionable and the 1992 application should not have been accepted to begin with. Regardless of that oversight, this was clearly not the Jacob Hollingsworth that had already died in Georgia in 1823. Further research in The Hollingsworth Register (October 1965, Volume I, No. 3, page 112-113) revealed that the Jacob living in Tennessee was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Chandler) Hollingsworth. Our Jacob in Georgia, according to the Descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth was the son of Samuel and Barbara (Shewin) Hollingsworth. One name, two men. At this point, neither qualifies as a DAR Patriot. (This reminds me of a lecture I once attended entitled "Hugh Montgomery: Two Men with the Same Name, or One Man with a Fast Horse" by Jo White Linn.)

The lineage from Jacob of Georgia was correct but the service was disproved and my supplemental was in jeopardy, not to mention the original membership papers of another member. I was on thin ice but all I had to do was find proof of service for the correct Jacob - if it existed.

Both Jacobs, descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth, were born into a Quaker family and as members in good standing, were not allowed to bear arms against an enemy soldier or take oaths of any kind. So this gives weight to a belief that no service, military or otherwise, may be found for our Jacob. Granted, some descendants took up arms and were disowned by the church but others did not.

The Tennessee Jacob arrived there via South Carolina. Our Jacob arrived in Georgia by way of North Carolina. He was found on the Randolph County, NC Tax List of 1779 as evidenced by The North Carolinian, June 1956, Volume II, No. 6, page 182. Everyone who paid a tax was required to take the Oath of Allegiance, something a Quaker could not do. Jacob refused, indicating that he was still a practicing Quaker and therefore, never served in the miltary or in public office. To back this up, no pension applications bearing his name have been discovered. Furthermore, Jacob received no bounty land for service. So not only has the service been disproved but the other member's entire application has been disqualified unless we can find proof that Jacob gave aid in the form of money or goods. Should I report my findings to DAR?

I agonized over this for some time. I had visions of death threats from the other member and her chapter. In the end, I could not let the incorrect information linger on for eternity, unchecked by future applicants. I wrote a letter and presented my findings to the Corrections Genealogist at the DAR National Headquarters. It took one year to get a response but they agreed with me and the ancestor was removed from the Patriot Index. I assume they found no proof of material aid either. Hopefully they were able to assist the other member in searching for another ancestor to support her membership.


Anonymous said...

Well, I have to say good for you! I'm in my mid thirties and am doing research in the Hollingsworth line and have come across a "john". Oh boy. I have about four John's I am tracing to find the link to my lineage. It is hard enough to research and find legit information, but it's even harder to be told that you have a link to the DAR only to have it ripped away. Good for you for putting the CORRECT information out there. I know there is a descendant who will be happy to know the truth one day.