Posted By:Peggy Reeves
Subject:Re: DAR Asked to Correct their Proven Mistakes
Post Date:August 14, 2012 at 06:57:16
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Forum:American Revolution Forum
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Mr. Bates, I salute your persistence in the face of hecklers, and you will need it if you want to prove a "new" Patriot. I agree that evidence needs to be searched out and presented, and mistakes need to be corrected.

It may be helpful to know that in the early days of DAR, one did not need to prove their links back to the Patriot. A person could pretty much make up any lineage they wanted to, and they did, literally. You could get in by having another member approve your application. You could prove that you were related to another person who was already a member without having to provide any proof at all. There was a lot of pride in claiming that you were descended from a famous General or other important Revolutionary figure. This is why the Generals and others have SO MANY "descendants" in DAR!

Understandably, DAR now requires better documentation but they are very embarrassed to admit those earlier mistakes.

In 2008, a client came to me to help her join DAR. She had gathered a stunning array of original documents, told me her theory, and asked me to help her find more evidence in the federal records and DAR library to either support or refute it. I did find more original documentation to support her claim, and when I looked at DAR applications and the evidence provided with those, what I found was startling...

In 1928, a woman in Georgia had apparently decided that she would be a descendant of Major General Samuel Elbert, and do whatever it took to "prove" this so that she could join the Samuel Elbert Chapter. She actually created a fictitious daughter of Samuel Elbert, "Celia Rae Elbert". She presented two pieces of "evidence" to DAR that she had typed herself and had notarized by a family member who was a notary. One was allegedly Bible records, and another was allegedly part of a letter written by an ancestor that talked about family relationships. There was no mention of who the letter was "to" and who it was "from". She then wrote several articles about the General and his family that she sent to various historical societies for publication in "History of..." books. There were many, many books on DAR shelves that talked about the General and his family, including his fictitious daughter, Celia Rae.

It is hard enough to prove that someone exists, but how do you prove that someone was made up? It wasn't easy, but we did it. We had to get to the root of the problem and find who the earliest of those 60 applications was, and analyze what she used as "proof" and why it was accepted. We also had to prove that all of the other "documentation" found in the "History of..." books came from that very same source. We did it. Every single application using Celia Rae used a combination of articles from a whole array of books and articles that all traced back to the same woman who started the lie in the first place.

Is DAR anxious to correct these mistakes and prevent them from continuing? Well, judge for yourself. If you go to the DAR ancestor database and put in Samuel Elbert, you will see that it is flagged, requiring new members to prove their links. It also says that there is something in the "data file" about this. The thing in the "data file" is the nine-page proof paper that we submitted with 23 different original documents as exhibits in 2008. I presented it in person in a portfolio the size of a book, and asked that it be made available in the library.

Several years after submitting that proof, I went to DAR and innocently asked a staff person if I could see the thing in the "data file" about this Patriot. They told me that I could NOT because the "data file" was only for staff use! (I didn't tell them I had helped write it)

All of the "History of..." books and genealogy books are still on their shelves in open stack, full of erroneous information about the fictitious Celia Ray Elbert for anyone to look at...but the truth stays hidden in a file for staff eyes only.

Mr. Bates, it sounds like you have done a lot of work already. I suggest you write up a proof paper, footnoted to show an original document for each point that you make. You cannot get the DAR to "correct" their record without joining as a member, but you CAN make your Patriot known, and make DAR's mistakes known, by posting your research. If you have a great proof, SAR should accept it, but you might have to disprove someone else's bogus proofs first.

Best wishes!