Constant Crocker: a potential patriot

Constant Crocker might be a DAR/SAR eligible patriot – but how do you know for sure?

Crocker’s descendant had noticed that Constant was of age during the American Revolution (40-53) and living in New London, Connecticut. He was more than likely a DAR or SAR qualified “patriot.” Since the descendant had already built out and documented most of the tree, it would be an easy lineage society application for the descendant to complete – if service could be confirmed.

The easiest Revolutionary War service to document is national military service, so establishing an eligible patriot generally starts there. Pension files for Constant were a dead-end, as were compiled military service records. So what’s next?

It’s time to look for civil service. Town meeting records might list Crocker’s name. But don’t. Unknown to the descendant, Crocker had quite a reputation and probably wasn’t considered up to civil government positions.  So it’s off to one last option…

Patriotic service: the Connecticut Archives collection lists patriotic service (donations in support of the military cause)  and some local militia records. And that’s where Constant finally appears! He served a half day in the militia in 1775 – officially qualifying him as a Revolutionary War patriot.

With an established tree, a completed application shouldn’t be far behind!







Searching for sources of Connecticut residency for SAR or DAR applications?

One of the requirements for “proving” a new patriot for the Daughters of the American Revolution is that you supply evidence of where they were living during the American Revolution. Census enumerations are an easy way to perfect way to do this, as they demonstrate that someone lived in a specific place at a specific time. Even better, there are three census enumerations available for Connecticut during the American Revolution that list the names and places of town residents.

They are:

  1. the 1776 census of Newington, which lists the head of household and their date of birth. A transcription is available at
  2. the 1776 census of Cornwall, which can be found in the Connecticut Archives collection. Per the State Library, it can be found at Connecticut Archives: Revolutionary War, Second Series, document 2, pages “a” and “b”.
  3. the 1779 census of the East Society of Norwich. It can be found in the Connecticut State Library at [CSL call number Main Vault 973.3 A28].


If your ancestor wasn’t from one of these towns, don’t give up! There are other ways to prove residence.



Searching for Connecticut Revolutionary War Service for a DAR or SAR application?

A DAR or SAR application can be a chance to recognize an ancestor’s previously unacknowledged contributions to the American Revolution.  If a male ancestor was between 14 and 60 and supported the patriot cause, there’s a good chance that there are some records of their contributions to the American Revolution. If you want to add a new ancestor to the files of the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution, you’ll need to be prepared to demonstrate their service.

For Connecticut, a listing of the most common sources can be found on Deb Duay’s Learn Webskills. Some of the books, such as Connecticut Men in the Revolution, have been digitized and can be found on Google Books or Others, such as the Connecticut town meeting records, must be looked up onsite.

Still can’t find service? Some service records are available only on the local level. Middletown’s town clerk, for example, has the tax lists from the War.  A bit of local research and contact with town historians may reveal what you need.

Research can be completed upon request.


Chebacco Parish: a Missing Link for Lyme, Connecticut Research

If you’re looking in Connecticut records, Hannah Thompson seems impossible to trace before her marriage in Lyme in the 1710s. From the lack of entries in the Barbour, you’d likely assume her information simply was not recorded. It wasn’t uncommon for the period, especially for a woman, who would not have to prove legal status to vote. However, you’d be wrong.

Hannah and her husband to be, William Ely, appear in the marriage intentions for Chebacco Parish, which was at the time, a subdivision of the Massachusetts town of Ipswich.  While her husband to be was from “Lime” (Lyme), Hannah was from Chebacco parish, and she wasn’t the only bride to make such a pairing. Richard Eli (Ely) of Lyme is listed only a few lines further up in the intentions. Clearly, the Ely family – and perhaps all of Lyme – had strong ties to Chebacco and commonly married into area families.

Hannah’s marriage reminds us that you have to check more than just Lyme, or even Connecticut, for family relationships. The Elys looked out of state for their brides to be. Their ties to Chebacco parish are a missing link in Lyme, Connecticut research.

Are you sure there’s no surname in Barbour? : The marriage of William Ely and Elizabeth Smith

Created as an index to and transcription of Connecticut’s early vital records, the Barbour Collection can be a huge timesaver for your research – provided you know its flaws.  To start, it created using information that was recopied several times, creating the possibility for error. Second, it does not cover the entire period before the state of Connecticut required vital records: after about 1850, you should look elsewhere for your information. Third, certain towns have no bound volumes and therefore no entry in the Ancestry collection. Finally, the marriage of William Ely and Elizabeth Smith reveals one more issue.

The Ely-Smith marriage, which occurred in 1681, is listed twice in the Barbour. The first time is under William Ely. That marriage entry correctly lists Elizabeth’s maiden name. The second time is in the “no-surname” section. William’s full name is listed – but Elizabeth has only a first name. Most marriages would be listed twice, but Elizabeth’s entry should have fallen under Smith.

The person who transcribed the original record didn’t know how to handle the fact that it was altered. As William’s entry revealed, Elizabeth’s surname was apparently added later. When the marriage record was first transcribed, the addition was left out, leading to the “no-surname” entry. Yet, the transcribe or another individual later changed their mind and added the surname. The end result was a different entry depending whether you looked for William or for Elizabeth.

The Ely-Smith marriage reminds us that there’s one more thing you should consider when using the Barbour: does the entry look logical? If there’s anything “strange” about the entry, such as missing names, dates too close to the next birth, and more, be sure to refer back to the original document. Transcribers didn’t always know how to record dual dates or later additions to the record, and their mistakes can throw off your research. Be sure to check their work!


Sometimes you just have to break the rules: why surname searches may be helpful in Connecticut genealogy

Eunice (Crocker) Way has long been a brick wall to researchers studying the family of Lt. Elisha Way of Lyme. There’s no doubt of her marriage or of her date of death. Eunice’s 1782 marriage to Elisha is documented in the Barbour Collectionwhile her dated tombstone is listed in the Hale. But everything before that was a mystery.

Who were Eunice (Crocker) Way’s parents? The Barbour Collection gave one hint. The town clerk, from whose material the Crocker-Way marriage was extracted, did not list a residence for either Elisha or Eunice. In most Connecticut towns, that’s a good indication that the bride and groom were both from that town. Eunice’s parents, therefore, most likely resided in Lyme.

That’s where we get stuck. There is no birth record or church record for Eunice Crocker, born Lyme about 1764. There are two birth records for Eunice Crockers born in other towns, but they can be demonstrated to have later married other men. The logical conclusion is that Eunice’s birth, for some reason, was not recorded.

However, it’s still possible to find Eunice’s parents. It just requires breaking a cardinal rule of genealogy: don’t assume people of the same surname are related.

If we break that rule, we start by assuming that Eunice Crocker’s father was probably a Crocker. The next step would be to locate any male Crockers living in Lyme at the time of her birth. The Hale Collection entry for Riverbend Cemetery in East Lyme indicates two male Crockers living in town around the 1760s. Mary Crocker, wife of Daniel, died in 1789. While the Hale Collection says she was 33, Find A Grave indicates she was 53 – and Daniel could very well be of the right age. There’s also Constant Crocker. The Hale Collection indicates that his daughter Mirus died in 1778 at age 8.  There are, therefore, two good options for Eunice’s father: Daniel Crocker and Constant Crocker. Since wills often list the children of the deceased, the next step was to check out probate records. And that’s where we hit the jackpot: Constant Crocker’s probate file names one of his heirs as the “heirs of Eunice Way” (who was deceased by that time). Eunice’s father, therefore, was likely Constant Crocker.

By rethinking the “don’t assume the same surname is related” rule, we’ve made a connection between Eunice and her likely father – and more importantly, learned an important research technique for small Connecticut towns. Use the common surname to find locals who might be related. Just don’t forget to test the theory!



How to find #Connecticut birth, deaths and marriages handout

Are you stuck trying to locate and purchase a copy of a Connecticut birth, death or marriage?

Not finding what you need in a web search?

 I’ve put all my “how to” hints together in one handout that details how to access records from Connecticut’s founding to the present, both when you know the town and when you don’t.

Purchase a copy for yourself or to use in your genealogy classroom on Teachers Pay Teachers.