During Spring Break this year my family traveled back East to visit with my family. One day my family hopped on the Metro into Washington,DC. We split up as we came into the city. My husband and kids played tourist for the day enjoying the beautiful cherry blossom festival. I walked a couple of blocks off of Constitution Avenue to spend the day researching at the Daughters of the American Revolution Library.
I had spent a good deal of time before my visit combing the Genealogical Research System (GRS) database. Most of my direct ancestors were either too young or too old for service in the Revolutionary War. I was not looking at the GRS for direct ancestors but rather any men who could be brothers, cousins, or uncles of my known ancestors. My hope was to find information in the supporting documents that would connect my ancestor to the family.
In the Seimes Technology Center, researchers can access the applications and supporting documents for the people found in the GRS. I tackled my to-do list and began checking each candidate. A few of the possible contenders were quickly crossed off the list since none of the information matched location or known dates.
I hit my first Jackpot with Lt. John Berry. As soon as I saw his applications and supporting documents I started hitting the ‘print’ button. The digitized documents tied right into the information I had found in the DAR Library in a book called A Berry History: an Account of John and Jane Campbell Berry of Washington County, Virginia compiled by John Berry Nolan. I have evidence that Jane Berry is my 4th great-grandmother. The book and DAR supporting documents show that she is the granddaughter of Lt. John Berry. This makes John Berry my 6th great-grandfather.
I then hit a triple Jackpot for my ancestor Mary Frances Coffey. I have documentation proving her parents are Willis Coffey and Violetta “Lotty” Haynes. First up is the find on Mary’s maternal line. My first jackpot hit was to connect Lotty as the daughter of James Haynes who served in the Revolutionary War.
Mary Frances Coffey’s paternal line had two additional surprises. The first surprise was to tie Willis Coffey into the family of Eli and Mary Coffey by looking at the application for Nathan Coffey. The probate records attached to the application show Willis as the executor of his father’s estate. It also names his mother as Mary ‘Polly’ Coffey, and the names of some of his siblings in the guardianship paperwork. It was also exciting to see John Haynes (father in-law of Willis) named in one of the documents.
The third surprise was how Nathan Coffey tied into the family. When I looked at the application, I was hoping he was an uncle. Turns out he was Willis’ great uncle and grandfather. Bible records were attached to the application which showed Eli Coffey married his first cousin, Mary Coffey on 22 March 1801. Nathan is the uncle of Eli and the father of Mary. Nathan Coffey (1760-1823) is supposedly the great-great grandson of John Coffey. John Coffey is alleged to have come to the United States about 1637 from Ireland. Once again a discovery has added many to-do items to my list to now prove prior research.
My last discovery was to confirm that Johannes Klinger is the father of Maria Clinger. Maria married into my Lawbaugh line.
The day was super successful. I know can prove a connection to five Revolutionary War ancestors. A great day ended on an even higher note. After leaving the DAR Library, I met my family at the Lincoln Memorial where we each enjoyed a lemonade popsicle before commuting home together.