An Analysis of the Existing DAR Applications for Jeremiah Campbell (1762-1843)

Here is the main post for Jeremiah Campbell (1762-1843), Ancestor #2/52

A person making application for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is required to provide proof of descent, or what is collectively called lineage papers. Each applicant supplied the required proof at the time of her application. It wasn’t until 1976 that all applicants were asked to provide official documentation for each relationship on their application. Therefore, applications dated before 1976 are considered inconclusive, and the information from those applications should not be cited as “proof” in any other context.

Therefore, when using a DAR application for anything, including basic research information, consider the year the application was made. I want to look particularly at two applications I found made for Jeremiah Campbell, Ancestor #A018627, a private who served under Captains Valentine Sevier and Landon Carter in North Carolina. This is definitely “my” Jeremiah.

In discussing these applications, I need to be careful that I don’t cross the line in violating the rules of usage as set out by the DAR: “These databases contain proprietary information that should under no circumstances be redistributed to others; assembled or collected for purposes other than DAR membership or for citation in genealogical scholarship; or reproduced, published or posted in any form whatsoever.” People pay the DAR good money for copies of these applications (I did as well), so of course they don’t want them distributed anywhere without compensation. So while I will be deliberately vague about the specifics of these applications in this discussion, I believe I can give enough information to make my points clear.

Looking up Jeremiah Campbell in the “Ancestor” section of the DAR website produces this result:Jeremiah_Campbell_DAR

Note particularly the place of birth: South Carolina.

The 1924 Application

This application was made by someone who was born in Hampton, Carter County, Tennessee in 1887–the same area where Jeremiah lived for approximately the last 50 years of his life. Jeremiah was the applicant’s grandfather’s grandfather. Which means that the applicant (call her Susannah–not her real name) might have known and heard stories from someone who knew and heard stories first-hand from Jeremiah. Unfortunately, Susannah’s grandfather died in 1863–almost 25 years before Susannah was born. However, her grandmother lived until 1913, so it’s conceivable that Susannah heard stories about Jeremiah from her grandmother. The grandmother was born in 1828; Jeremiah died in 1843. It’s possible that the grandmother knew Jeremiah, since they lived in the same community. However, my research shows that she didn’t marry Jeremiah’s grandson until 1851, eight years after Jeremiah’s death. It’s possible to imagine, but impossible to know, what other people Susannah might have known who knew Jeremiah.

Setting those facts of the application aside, we know that Susannah grew up in the community where Jeremiah had lived for 50 years. He was probably a well-known figure, and probably “stories were told,” reverting to the ever-useful passive voice. This is the geographical and timely context for Susannah’s DAR application, made when she was 37 years old.

The documentation for this application is anything but robust, but it was an acceptable application for its time, 1924. I have researched Susannah’s line back to Jeremiah, using census records and other information that is available to me (that undoubtedly wasn’t easily available to Susannah when she made her application). I don’t have any quarrel with her lineage or her dates. However, I do have one glaring “issue” with this application: the place of Jeremiah’s birth.

The 1924 application gives the place of Jeremiah’s birth as South Carolina, born 15 Dec 1762. To this day, no one has proven the place of Jeremiah’s birth, which may have been Scotland or Virginia–or someplace else, although almost definitely not South Carolina. Unfortunately, it appears that this application has been cited by some Campbell family researchers as “proof” of the place of Jeremiah’s birth. How did Susannah prove the place of birth on her application?

One of the reasons for viewing an original application and not just an index of the same information is that details can be seen on the original that won’t show up in the index. This application is hand-written. The handwriting is not particularly neat but it’s legible. On the line that contains Jeremiah’s place of birth, Carter County, Tenn. has been crossed out: Carter County, Tenn. Above the cross-out is Virginia, written in a different hand than the rest of the application. That too is crossed out: Virginia. The third try for his place of birth is South Carolina, written in what appears to be the same hand as the Virginia correction.

DAR_1924_1

Next to South Carolina is a star [*]. At the bottom of the page is the star [*] and written in the same “correcting” handwriting is “See Vol. 2 Hist of Shelby Co. Ill. P 822.”

DAR_1924_2

I’ve done extensive research on my line of the Campbell family in Shelby County, Illinois. A search for this reference in the online catalog at Eastern Illinois University’s Booth Library revealed no hits for this title. EIU is an Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) for Shelby County, so I have every confidence that if a book of this title existed, it could be found in this library. Undoubtedly this reference existed at the time. Either it no longer exists, anywhere, or the title is incomplete or incorrect.

I believe I might have found the reference referred to in this application:  Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Shelby County, Vol. II, George D. Chafee, Editor.  Munsell Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910. Unfortunately, the online version of this volume goes only through page 800. Is it possible that there was another edition? Yes, there’s a 1912 edition. However, I haven’t been able to find that edition to verify the reference to page 822.

Regardless of whether or not this reference can ever be found, the place of birth found in this volume by Susannah (or the “correcting writer”) would be considered, at best, a relevant authored work, rather than a record, and by itself it can only be considered a clue–not evidence.  No one should cite this application in 2015 as “proof” for Jeremiah Campbell’s place of birth.

The 1931 Application

This application was made by someone born in Moweaqua, Shelby County, Illinois. This one gets closer to my own line. The applicant (I’ll call her Sarah–not her real name) was the granddaughter of Alfred C. Campbell of Illinois, who was the grandson of Jeremiah Campbell of Tennessee. Sarah’s grandfather was my first cousin, 4x removed. Sarah was 65 years old. Knowing details about the person who created the application, the informant, can be useful:

Information usually comes from an informant–someone who provided information of interest. Informants report events they witnessed. They also retell information they heard. Informants sometimes create information, perhaps inferring it from their experiences or sources or simply by inventing it (Jones, 11).

The creator of this application, whom I call “Sarah,” lived in her grandfather’s original homestead in Moweaqua, Shelby County, Illinois until she herself was an old woman. Chances are that Sarah had access to the family stories, and for me this would make Sarah a good informant, although unfortunately the requirements for sources on her application were minimal. Did she leave any records–possibly with her local chapter of the DAR? Looking for Sarah might turn out to be a fruitful line of research for this Campbell family.

2015-01-11_8-16-05

I have no quarrel with Sarah’s lineage or dates. My problem with her application is the same one I had with the 1924 application–the place of Jeremiah’s birth.

Sarah’s application states that Jeremiah was born in Scotland. However, Scotland is crossed out: Scotland and in different handwriting, above the cross-out, is written South Carolina. Curiously, this corrective handwriting seems to be the same handwriting that is found in the 1924 application. The probable explanation is that the correction was made in both cases by the same DAR genealogist.

How did Sarah prove Jeremiah’s place of birth? The “proof” for her grandfather (John Campbell’s) place of birth she found in History of Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois, by John Carroll Power. Edwin Wilson & Co., Springfield, 1876, 171-172. Again, while these county histories often provide good clues, they are authored works rather than records, and should not be used as direct evidence in 2015, that is, “an information item that answers a research question all by itself” (Jones, 14).  However, this reference was acceptable for a 1931 application. From the history we learn:

CAMPBELL, JOHN, was born Nov. 4, 1790, in Carter county, Tenn. His father, Jeremiah Campbell, settled there before the American Revolution, and was a soldier during the Revolution, under Gen. Francis Marion. He lived to be about 100 years old. (171)

Ignoring the “about 100 years old,” which was not the case (he was 80 when he died), what we learn is that Jeremiah settled in Carter County, Tennessee “before the American Revolution.” We do not learn from this reference where Jeremiah was born or where he lived before coming to Carter County. This book was published in 1876. John Campbell had died in 1875, so it’s possible that the biographical information for the book came from John. The information might also have come from John’s son, Alfred C. Campbell, a prominent resident of the county. Regardless of whether the informant was Jeremiah’s  son or his grandson, it’s interesting to note that he omitted Jeremiah’s place of birth. It’s reasonable to think that if the informant had known where Jeremiah was born, then that information would have been included.

An interesting addition to the references in Sarah’s application is a “certified copy of manuscript from family Bible of A. C. Campbell.” I haven’t seen the copy of this manuscript which is attached to this application. Since nothing else in the application mentions the place of Jeremiah’s birth, it’s possible that this is where either “Scotland” or “South Carolina” came from. Again, even if this Bible manuscript is found, it would be considered an authored work, and by itself in 2015 would not be an acceptable source for Jeremiah Campbell’s birthplace. This 1931 application should not in itself be used as “proof” for Jeremiah’s birthplace.

References

Jones, Thomas W. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Virginia: National Genealogy Society, 2013.

 

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2 Responses to An Analysis of the Existing DAR Applications for Jeremiah Campbell (1762-1843)

  1. Pingback: Researching Jeremiah Campbell Sr., Ancestor #2/52 | The Shoebox Under the Bed

  2. Pingback: 52 Ancestors: #2 of 52 – Jeremiah Campbell, Sr. (1762-1843) | The Shoebox Under the Bed

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