Recently I was accepted into membership into the Sons of the Revolution. The Sons of the Revolution is a hereditary based organization that requires its members to prove genealogical descent from a Patriot that participated in the American Revolution through military service to the nascent United States. For the past few years I have become quite the genealogical sleuth finding historical roots to the earliest days of the Republic through lineage from my Mother’s family. The pursuit has indeed been quite invaluable and as a result I have been accepted into the Sons of the American Revolution, an organization that similarly adheres to the principles of the Sons of the Revolution with one difference, the members do not have to prove military service. Rather potential members need to prove that their ancestors provided allegiance or material support to the cause of American Independence.
There are caveats however to searching for clues to discovering your genealogical roots through various decades and centuries. The main problem is properly tracing the correct lineage of your great great great grandparents for example. The Patriot identified erroneously as one of my ancestors was Captain John Gray, part of the Vermont contingent of minutemen that fought the American Revolution in New England. Through the services of Ancestry.com, Captain John Gray was identified as my Eight great grandfather linking me to him through my Mother’s paternal ancestors. All of the paperwork was filed, I was accepted into the Sons of the American Revolution and that should have been the end of the story. Well, as with all good intentions, often times there are small details that emerge that lead you to a different path.
Later on, I decided to gain admission to the Sons of the Revolution. The above mentioned society. When presenting the same information to this society, the astute genealogist noted that my maternal great great grandfather Harry Keever Gray was mistakenly identified by the Sons of the American Revolution’s genealogist as Harry J. Gray, a bachelor that properly was linked to Captain John Gray of Vermont fame and exploits during the American Revolution. Being as such that he was single and produced no descendants, my lineage to Captain John Gray was impossible. What to do. Go back to Ancestry.com and find another eligible ancestor to supplement my Sons of the American Revolution and assure my acceptance into membership at the Sons of the Revolution.
Such is the reason for my usage in this blog of the American Flag used at the Battle of Brandywine, which happened September 11, 1777. After research my Mother’s paternal line held another presumed Patriot of the American Revolution, Sgt. Phillip Loewer/Lauer who served in the artillery corps of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment that was part of the Battle at Brandywine. He is my 8th great grandfather as well, but through a different line of my maternal grandfather’s family. Needless to say, while researching my Mother’s ancestors it was very interesting to notice how many of them had long term established roots to the Gray’s Ferry section of Philadelphia and how many of them had roots in faiths other than Roman Catholicism, which I had always taken for granted. Most of my maternal ancestors on my grandfather’s side were Lutherans or Quakers and they hailed from Germany, Prussia and Austria. What a surprise to someone that had always know that my maternal grandfather’s ancestors were not Catholic, but I never expected to find Lutherans in the clan of what I always thought were Scotch-Irish ancestors. Monikers of a surname are seemingly just a camouflage tactic to obscure our ancestral heritages.
When searching family roots, you never know what you might find. Perhaps a German/Lutheran, a long lost Revolutionary War Patriot or just a hard working ancestor that came to the United States just to seek out the benefits of our American ideals, namely Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Whatever you find, in Gray’s Ferry, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or for that matter anywhere else…be proud of the fact that your ancestors and mine came to this country and gave it a unique identity that continues to be a shining beacon of liberty for the world to emulate.
As I celebrate my membership in the Sons of the Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution my goal is to call everyone that reads my Gray’s Ferry Grapevine column to explore the great heritage you have in your family’s ancestors and celebrate those great men and women that made America great. America is indeed great, contrary to the popular catch phrase currently coined by an unnamed Republican candidate for the Oval office. America is great and continues to be great. The catch phrase perhaps that should indeed be used is this: Make America greater.
We can do this by celebrating our past by exploring the contributions of all of our ancestors.
Continue their greatness by exercising the greatness of the American experiment of government…VOTE in November.
Finally, know that regardless of the ballot tallies, America and Americans are indeed greater, always because we freely vote for our leaders which keeps the collective memories of the American Revolution alive and in our hearts as a united people determined to make America greater every day through our lives and convictions of freedom and liberty for all.
God Bless America!