Salvaged Treasure

Many months after my father died, my step-mother gave my sister a box of “stuff”. There were pictures of our family we had given Daddy, an ashtray, some odds and ends, and an old Bible. We had no idea who the Bible had belonged to or what the relevance was to our family. My sister gave it to me and I began to vaguely recall Daddy telling me that Grandma never knew her mother. That her mother died when Grandma was really young – that was all I could remember.

The cover was embossed cardboard. The binding fragile, but intact. There was a record of births, marriages and deaths. I realized this was the record of Grandma’s family – the Millers.

I am a member of Daughters of the American Revolution so genealogical sleuthing is familiar territory. So I began to research the Miller family, using the Bible as my point of reference. With a copyright date of 1881, I knew I had something truly special in hand.

A quick search of the Genealogical Research System database, maintained by the DAR in Washington, D.C., found that my Miller family had an American Revolutionary War Patriot. The search also revealed that no one had connected to that Patriot through my particular line. I became determined to find documentation necessary to prove my connection, thereby preserving this family line for future generations.

Finding the original will of my Patriot, Frederick Miller was just one of the many treasures I discovered. In 2019 I submitted my supplemental application to DAR, knowing that there was a strong possibility that it would not be sufficient. There was one weak link and despite my best efforts, I had been unable to find documents to prove that link. As I expected, it was returned requesting additional information. I was at a loss about how to proceed so the application sat untouched for several months.

Then a dear DAR friend worked some mighty magic on my behalf. DAR uses “Registrars” throughout the organization to help prospective members with their documentation and applications. My friend has a true passion for the quest of proving lineage to DAR. She took my documentation and original application, did a ton of research herself, and then wrote an essay to DAR explaining how this weak link was weak only because a document was not available. She explained the reasoning for the connection and to say I was amazed at what she wrote would be a gross understatement.

I am in no way a genealogy buff. I do, however, have a passion for connectedness, providing accessible family history, and storytelling. This graphic illustration of my grandma’s family has been hanging on my wall for seven years. I had proved the Cooper line years ago and even though I was confident of the Miller connection, I knew without proofs it was just a set of claims. To now have proven the Miller line is just an incredibly special gift.

The Bible that was in a box of discards so many years ago was the catalyst for this search and is now included in DAR’s documented proofs. I donated copies of all the Bible’s pages of family history to the Elizabeth Furr Duncan Library in Wayne County. In my mind, this is the point of genealogical research – find, connect, and share the story.