Case Studies

Experiences and Case Studies

Righting a Wrong 162 Years Later

Case Study by Krysten Baca

Building a case for membership in a lineage society

Bobbie Richardson proved that her 5th great-grandfather, Thomas Jones, did indeed serve in the Revolutionary War. The pension application of Thomas Jones was rejected, because they didn’t believe he had actually served in the war. It was such a touching story that even his congressman got involved, but Thomas died in 1854 at the age of 104 before he could prove his military service. His 5th great-granddaughter has now set the story straight. Bobbie Richardson

After hearing about her husband’s ancestors firing the first shot at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781 in South Carolina, Bobbie Richardson wanted to discover her own patriotic story.

“It was just a dream of mine doing it,” Bobbie said. “My husband’s family was eligible for DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), but it didn’t seem like any of them wanted to join, and of course I wasn’t eligible, and I kind of wanted to get my granddaughters in it, but I had no help.”

She started looking on Ancestry.com, but she didn’t know where to start. She even went to a genealogical library in her area.

“I tried to get help from some of the people there, but you know they gave me a library card. It wasn’t that helpful,” she said. “My family on my side, my grandfather, my father, my brother, my uncle were all in the service, World War I and II, and Vietnam, and I feel very patriotic, that I wanted to do something like this.”

“It came time for my birthday, and my family wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday, so I told them this was what I wanted, and that is what I got.”

Bobbie knew the research would be challenging, so she started working with AncestryProGenealogists research manager Krysten Baca and her team of genealogists. They helped Bobbie find a patriot ancestor, then gathered the necessary documentation for her membership application to the DAR.

An established patriot ancestor was identified, and Bobbie’s DAR membership application was prepared and sent to Washington, D.C. However, due to the DAR’s rigorous adherence to their genealogy guidelines, the verifying staff genealogist did not accept two documents that had been submitted to prove the lineage.

Bobbie faced substantial challenges in proving her descent from a Revolutionary War patriot, since her family history included not only common surnames, but also recent immigrations, complex migrations through Southern states with burned courthouses and other missing records, and Quaker pacifist ancestors. With persistence, another patriot ancestor named Thomas Jones, of Duck Creek Hundred, Kent County, Delaware, was identified by AncestryProGenealogists. But even this proved problematic, since his application for a pension had been repeatedly rejected. 

Thomas Jones was born in 1750 in Wales. Although he had recently immigrated to America, he served his new country by fighting for its independence. He served in a Delaware company named the Battalion Flying Camp (a mobile strategic reserve of troops). However, when he submitted his application for his rightful pension, his claim was rejected because he did not have adequate proof of his service. Thomas enlisted the aid of his congressman, the Hon. John Johnson, but died while still fighting for his pension. The congressman never returned Jones’s file, which created significant challenges for AncestryProGenealogists’ research.


Figure 1 - Rejected pension application. Source: Fold3


Figure 2 - Pension Office letter, dated 21 December 1854. Source: Fold3

In 1923, the DAR established Thomas Jones as a patriot, but after 1990 stopped accepting applications for membership through this patriot. While he is buried in Barnesville, Ohio, with a military marker that honors his Revolutionary War service, there was a cloud that has persisted regarding the credibility of his claim, and the DAR coded his patriot profile that “Future Applicants Must Prove Correct Service.”

Extensive work was conducted by researchers in four states, including Delaware SAR state registrar William C. Regli; Florida State Society DAR registrar Cindy Weatherby; and DAR team leader/staff genealogist, Delaware research specialist, and author Margaret Deakyne “Peggy” Mealy. Peggy took a personal interest in Bobbie’s story, since they shared the same Quaker ancestry. Using the all-name index of the Revolutionary War Pensions on Fold3, the pension file of fellow soldier Edward Kearney validated Thomas Jones’ claim of serving under Captains James Raymond and Matthew Manlove and Colonel Samuel Patterson in the Battalion Flying Camp. This pension file, combined with the Delaware tax records proving wartime residency, led to the conclusion that Thomas Jones’ service claims were indeed valid.

Because of Bobbie Richardson’s patriotic spirit and persistence in honoring her heritage, Thomas Jones will be rightfully acknowledged, and his 5th great-granddaughter will become an official member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution on July 5, 2016.

“I was elated to find out about Thomas Jones … to live that long and keep fighting for it, he really was a fighter,” Bobbie said.

“This whole entire time he was trying to get his pension, and they kept turning him down. He even had his congressman working on it, and then he passed away, he never did get his pension, but now he might be recognized that he was a soldier and get the recognition that he deserves.”

 “You all are great. It is a little expensive, but it is worth it. It is a great, great honor, and I can’t wait to go to my first meeting.”

This 4th of July, Bobbie will finally be able to celebrate the Revolutionary War service of her patriot ancestor Thomas Jones, and she plans to continue to find other ways to give him the honor he deserves. 

Research Manager on Project:

Krysten Baca

Project Hours:

50 Hours

Biography

Krysten developed a passion for family history as a child, as she spent time with her great grandmother. This passion turned into a career in 2004 when she joined Ancestry.com. Before she was a research manager, Krysten was a genealogist with the Ancestry.com Public Relations team where she specialized in finding celebrity connections such as Barack Obama being related to Brad Pitt and Warren Buffett.

An avid and skilled United States genealogist, Krysten led a team of our genealogists in research for Helen Hunts's, Cynthia Crawford's, and Cynthia Nixon's "Who Do You Think You Are?" episodes. In addition to her extensive research into the ancestry of celebrities, Krysten loves helping people find their own story.

Areas of Expertise

United States (West, Mid-West, South), African American, United States colonial and military records, lineage society applications.