I’ve been helping a cousin with her DAR proof of descent from our common ancestor, James Rampley of Harford County, Maryland. James died in Harford County, Maryland, in 1817. Documenting  the descent from fairly easy–at least partially.

  1. James Rampley
  2. Thomas Johnson Rampley (died 1823 Coshocton County, Ohio)
  3. James Rampley (born 1803 Harford County, Maryland–died 1884 Hancock County, Illinois)
  4. Riley Rampley (born 1835 Coshocton County, Ohio–died 1893 Hancock County, Illinois).

That’s where our common ancestry ends (we descend from different daughters of Riley). Proving the parent-child relationships was easy between James and Thomas and between Thomas and James. Then it got a little more problematic. Proving that Riley was the son of James was the problem. James did not leave a will. James and Elizabeth deeded property to all their sons before they died, but the relationship to the grantee is not stated on the deed. The fact that the consideration on the deeds is a token amount is not hard enough evidence of a parent-child relationship for my cousin’s DAR application.

The parent-child relationship appears in several county histories. That’s not going to work either. The fact that descendants of James (died 1884) all attended the same reunion in Illinois is also not adequate (and it is really pretty weak evidence to be perfectly honest). The fact that James and his wife Elizabeth were buried in the same rural cemetery with Riley and several individuals believed to be Riley’s siblings was not sufficient proof either.

All those pieces of information are consistent with a parent-child relationship.

I needed something a little more solid that cheap land sales, county histories, reunion attendance, family tradition, tombstones and burial plots. I needed paper.

The problem was that Riley was born in Ohio in 1835. There was no birth certificate. He died in Illinois in 1893. There was no death certificate that provided parental information (those questions are not asked until later). The family bible is apparently long gone–or hiding in someone’s attic.  There is no obituary (and it probably would not pass muster for the application). Riley’s siblings were born in the same place in the same time frame. No birth certificates for them either. His brothers died in about the same place as he did in the same time frame…meaning that their death certificates presented the same problem that his did.

But I think I have a workaround that utilizes official records.

It works for me. It may or may not work for the DAR.

Stay tuned.





7 Responses

  1. I look forward to your workaround. I have some of the same problems proving lineage to a Revolutionary War soldier.

    • We’re hoping the workaround passes DAR muster. It’s a good paper trail and set of documentation, but just because it works for me does not mean it works for them.

  2. Judging from the text of your message, you realized you had a type in Riley’s birth state–there is and was no Coshocton County in Maryland.

  3. How timely! I just received my DAR acceptance letter in the mail last week! I am so excited for our next chapter meeting, which unfortunately isn’t until September since they don’t meet in the summer.

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