Mayflower Project: The Application Process

by Scott Jangro on May 7, 2010

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ll be sharing the details of the application process to get my kids into the Massachusetts Mayflower Society. I assume this process is similar for other state Mayflower Societies.

I’ve got one line documented and approved for my membership, through Stephen Hopkins. There’s a person in that line that is a “freebie” to William Brewster, Abigail DOANE. Her father (Israel DOANE) goes to Stephen Hopkins and her mother (Ruth FREEMAN) goes to William Brewster.

Back eight years ago I decided to make the second line to William Brewster official at the same time as getting my daughter Sarah inducted.

When you apply to the Mayflower Society, you’re provided with a worksheet like the ones pictured below with the documentation that they have and the documentation that they are missing (and require).

Here’s first few pages of the application worksheet that was given to me back in 2002. The historian’s note indicated that the Society was now requiring more primary documentation, and she marked each required document with a star.

scott-william-brewster.png

(later generations omitted to protect the living)

What I thought was going to be merely a formality of updating the latest documents for my daughter turned into having to get death certificates for ancestors back 7 generations well into the 18th century. I also knew from my grandparents research that the town records for Orleans, MA were destroyed in a fire.

My fortitude wasn’t enough to take on a project that seemed like I was set up for failure right from the start and I gave up.

Trying Again

Eight years later, much has changed. Hopefully more records have turned up in the Society’s library, and if not, at least the amount of information available both offline and online has expanded greatly. So I contacted the Mayflower Society again to inquire about requirements for documenting my Mayflower lines.

The current historian explained to me that they acknowledged that it was just unrealistic to get primary documentation all the way back to the Pilgrims. What they “want” for documentation is not the same as what they will “accept”. However, they do require full documentation for the last three generations, including spouses.

He put together a new worksheet for me. Note this one is for Stephen Hopkins and the above one is for William Brewster, but they are the same since generation 7 and 6 respectively.

sarah-stephen-hopkins.png

(later generations omitted to protect the living)

Note that they do now seem to have some additional information for Abigail SNOW, Benoni BAKER, and Vickery BAKER, and he’s not asking for the missing death records for Elnatan SNOW and Phebe SPARROW. (phew!)

The wildcards here will be Priscilla WALKER and Joseph BAKER up in Northfield and Brookfield, Vermont. I don’t have full confidence in the availability of these records, but this certainly feels more doable.

It looks like a roadtrip to Vermont is in my near future. Fortunately, Northfield is only a three hour drive from my home in MA.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Theresa Casteel May 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm

These applications seem to require a lot of patience to go along with the diligence!

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Scott Jangro May 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm

You’ve got that right!

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Alison May 8, 2010 at 9:06 am

Dear Scott, Maybe thousands of volunteers worldwide at ‘Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness’ and/or ‘Rootschatters’ might be able to dig up information from Vermont for you…

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Scott Jangro May 8, 2010 at 11:52 am

No doubt Alison. though I’ve actually been meaning to make this trip for years as there are some ancestors buried there as well.

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Leeann May 9, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I still have to prove my relationship to Brewster via his daughter Elizabeth who appearently is NOT a proven daughter of his.

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Shawn Carter May 19, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I discovered a Mayflower line in November, sent in my application in January and had my application approved by the beginning of April. I did the whole shootin’ match–13 generations. I think it sometimes seems daunting. But I have to tell you Scott, for me, the journey was the reward. I have connected with second cousins and discovered sixth cousins who helped me along on the path. It was really rewarding. Don’t give up. Most states didn’t have birth certificates or death certificates until the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. You might only get four or five generations that way. Have you tried the local historical societies where your ancestors lived? You might be surprised by what they have available. I received an abundance of information from Wisconsin, Iowa, and Oklahoma. Not everything was applicable as primary documentation, but you learn so much about these people and their lives. You can also try writing to the county seats where they lived and see if they have wills for these individuals. I’ve received wills going back as far as 1680 that were still held at county courthouses. It’s amazing. My work was greatly aided by requesting proof from someone who had joined the Daughters of the American Revolution. I requested a record copy and supporting documents. In that bundle of paperwork, there was an affidavit from my grandfather’s cousin about the dates in a family bible. Doing a little work, I connected with extended family and the bible still existed! No one knew that this Mayflower line existed, and so we had a big reunion and there is now a renewed interest of keeping the distant cousins together. I had professional pictures shot of all of the relevant pages (17 pages of records) and have made the images available to all family members. I hope you stick with it. You may discover that your line being rejected turns out to be a blessing in disguise. If you prove the line, you will have discovered so much that might inspire you. Good Luck.

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Scott Jangro May 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm

That’s a great perspective, Shawn. I appreciate your comment.

You’re right of course, and now that I’m well over the initial shock that the documentation that got me into the society is no longer enough for my kids, I look forward to getting to know my ancestors.

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Eva Newell July 22, 2010 at 4:18 am

I am also a descendant of Stephen Hopkins and 7 other Mayflower families. I submitted my paperwork about 6 weeks ago and just received an e-mail today that my Hopkins line has been accepted. (Haven’t tried the other lines yet–went with the easiest first.) The Connecticut Historian was so helpful and nice, answering all my questions promptly and giving tips. I had to do my research across country borders, as my dad’s folks went from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia in the 1760’s and the line only begins again in the U.S. when my father came to Connecticut in the 1930’s. Fortunately for me, you can purchase Nova Scotian historical data like marriage records on line if they have it and the event was 100+ years or more ago. More recent records are not possible to get. For documentation, I was able to use photocopies from pages in town history books and I even used photos I took of headstones which they accepted in lieu of death certificates. I had to go to Canada to take the grave photos of course. My own mother who was born in 1910, did not have a birth certificate. I submitted a “cradle roll” from the church she was christened from, and that was accepted too. How it was explained to me, when you submit a family line, the society looks in their data base and tries to come up with a line as close as possible to yours. Let’s say they find a line that is the same as yours for the first six generations. You would only need to provide documentation from that sixth generation down to yourself. Don’t go through the Plymouth Mass. Headquarters with your appliction. They provide zero help or advice. Don’t be discouraged. Go through your state branch. Hopefully, your state historian will be as nice and helpful as the one here in CT. Good Luck!

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Harry Selsor September 17, 2010 at 12:52 am

Scott, I am working my Baker line now to Gov Wm Brewster..via my Grandmother. Dollie nee Idle Baker 13 generations,,almost done…turns out her husband my Grandfather Harold Baker seems connected in some trees to a Vickery Baker also tied to Mayflower line of Stephen Hopkins..Do you have more info on this Vickery Baker of Worcester Mass line? My brick wall is a Jacob Baker of Nicholas Co KY who died 1814..some trees link him to Vickery Baker and Sherry Specht..Harry

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