Discovering your Patriot Ancestor

Published on 4 July 2022 at 08:00

On this July 4th, we will not only celebrate our 246th year of American Independence, but we also have an opportunity to honor the memory of two of our Founding Fathers – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. 196 years ago on the 4th of July, they both quietly passed away just four hours apart. They began as Founding Brothers and ended as rivals. Though they may have had political differences, neither one wavered in their untiring belief in the republican form of government they helped create.


Honoring those who came before us is a time-honored tradition in America. Every genealogical journey begins with a story. Have you been told that one of your ancestors may have taken part in the American Revolution? Based on my experience as a genealogist, I believe many Americans have no idea that one or more of their ancestors may have supported the struggle for American Independence


As family history researchers, we all want to get down to work and delve into online repositories such as FamilySearch, Ancestry, and My Heritage. Depending on where you are in researching your family, genealogy websites ‌have their limitations… especially with later generations.  Searching for Patriot Ancestors provides you with a wonderful opportunity to expand your family history research horizons.


In that vein, I would like to present you with some examples of lesser-known research resources that may assist you in discovering your Patriot Ancestor.


Military Records: If you are searching for military records of your ancestors, whether they took part in the American Revolution or the Vietnam War, is a must-visit. Though the primary emphasis of Fold3 is to provide access to U.S. military and pension records, the website also includes links to some international military records as well

To the left is a copy of Colonel John Branch’s American Revolution War Pension Record. If you look closely at the document, it shows his name, state in which he served, his rank, pay rate, the name of a relative, L. O’B Branch (his grandson), his wife’s first name, and her place of residence… Louisburgh, NC. What a discovery for a family history researcher!  (


Several U.S. Lineage Societies maintain substantial Patriot Ancestor databases. The list of Lineage Societies in America is extensive so to provide you with a quick look at the advantage of searching in Lineage Society databases, I will focus on the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).


The Daughters of the American Revolution ( 

As their website states, since the founding of the Society 125 years ago, more than one million women have joined. That information alone is a good indicator of the size of the Society’s genealogical database. You do NOT have to be a member to access their database. I use it all the time. 


  • Genealogical Research System (GRS) 
    • Search by Patriot Ancestor… It is as simple as putting in a surname to initiate a search. If you have a state of service, or more personal information, even better.
    • You have the chance to view a list of already approved applications associated with a Patriot Ancestor.
    • Those applications will provide you with a limited view of the approved lineage associated with the application.
    • You may discover that you not only have a Patriot Ancestor, but you may be fortunate enough to find an already approved line.  

It is well worth a visit to the DAR’s Genealogical Research System. (

The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution ( With over 33,000-plus members, the SAR is the largest male Lineage Society in America. Not to be outdone by the Ladies of the DAR, the SAR recently created the Patriot Research System (PRS).  

  • Just like the DAR’s online research system, you do not have to be a member of the SAR to search in the PRS system.
  • You may search for a Patriot Ancestor by name, state of service, etc.                                                                                                  
  • You can also search for already approved membership applications which include getting a limited view into the approved lineage.
  • Many members provide a short biography of their Patriot Ancestor, and you can find those on the website as well. (


The Mayflower: If you believe you may be a descendant of a Mayflower Passenger or you have a keen interest in learning more about the Pilgrim’s journey, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants is the right place to start (

  • The GSMD was established in 1897.
  • The Society researches the lineal descent of the Mayflower Pilgrims.
  • The Explore Your Roots drop-down provides viewers with helpful hints about the Society’s membership process.
  • One of the Society’s newest initiatives is the Patriot to Passenger program that endeavors to build a “bridge” between the GSMD and the DAR/SAR by discovering unknown lines of descent between Mayflower Passengers and American Patriots who took part in the American Revolution.

Enjoy your Patriot Ancestor research journey and Have a Great Independence Day!


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1. "War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications" digital images, ( accessed 10 February 2022), John Branch; citing NARA microfilm publication M804, record group 15, roll 0323.

2. Daughters of the American Revolution, “Genealogical Research System”, ( accessed on 12 February 2022). 

3. The National Society Sons of the American Revolution “Patriot Research System”, accessed on 12 February 2022). 

4. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, ( accessed on 12 February 2022).

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Add comment


Xavier Cottier-Abeille
5 months ago

"Bon sang ne saurait mentir"
Blood will tell

French saying

Xavier Cottier-Abeille

Beverly Grush
5 months ago

Wonderful article. Great tips. Thank you for sharing.

Warren Abadie
5 months ago

Thank you for the very informative research sites.