Shopping Cart

Your shopping cart is empty.

Researching Your African American Patriot

Research Your Lineage

Begin your search.

Start with yourself and go backwards, one generation at a time. Useful records to collect include birth, death, and marriage certificates; obituaries, cemetery records, and funeral cards; probate and land records; newspaper announcements; oral histories; military records and discharge papers; and federal and state censuses.

Work your way back to 1870.

For enslaved ancestors, the 1870 federal census is especially important because it is the first census taken after the Civil War and names all persons in a household.

For free ancestors, the 1850 federal census is the first census to name all persons in a household.

Not all African Americans were enslaved.

Approximately 15% of African Americans were free when the Civil War began in 1861.

Continue your research in other records.

Findings in pre-1870 records are built on research in post-1870 records. Seek out marriage settlements, probate distributions, and court records. Documenting lineage and service is easier in the New England states than in the Southern states.

Establishing Your Patriot Ancestor

Who served and how did they serve?

More than 5,000 African American or mixed descent patriots served in the American Revolution. Military service is credited to those who served in campaigns against the British between 19 April 1775 and 26 November 1783.

Civil Service is credited to those who conducted public business under the authority of the new federal, state, county, and town governments.

Patriotic Service is credited to those who took action to further, or demonstrate loyalty to, the cause of American independence, such as taking the oath of fidelity, paying supply taxes, providing supplies or monetary aid, or serving on a committee made necessary by the war.

Useful Sources

The following resources are available online or through interlibrary loan:

  • Freedman’s Bureau Marriage Records, 1815 – 1866
    Available at www.familysearch.org
  • Freedman’s Bank Records 1865 - 1871
    Available at www.familysearch.org
  • U.S. Southern Claims Commission Master Index 1871 – 1880
    www.slcl.org
  • U.S. federal censuses, 1790 – 1940
    Widely available
  • Amistad Research Center
    www.amistadresearchcenter.org
  • Records of Antebellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Kenneth M. Stampp.
    Ongoing; microfilm via interlibrary loan
  • Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War, NSDAR
    www.dar.org/ library/fp.cfm

Researching Your Spanish Patriot

Can you trace your family back to those living in Nueva España during the American Revolution 1776 - 1783?

If so, you may be eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Can You Trace Your Lineage To A Patriot Who Served In Spanish America?

DAR members have traced their ancestry back to more than 400 Spanish patriots of the American Revolution. These patriots were residents of either Spanish Louisiana or Nueva España. Nueva España included portions of the present day states of Texas, California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona, as well as Mexico. Spanish forces also served in Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean. Ongoing research continues to identify new Spanish patriots.

How were these people involved in the American Revolution?

Donativos

In 1780, Carlos III, King of Spain, issued a Royal Decree that all subjects in Nueva España, or New Spain, make a voluntary contribution, in the form of a donation, to help fund the American Revolutionary War. Every citizen of Spanish America was asked to donate one or two pesos to the cause.

The Gálvez Expedition

Many Spanish patriots served under General Bernardo de Galvez in his Gulf Coast campaigns, including the Battles of Pensacola and Mobile. They were also stationed at militia posts throughout Spanish Louisiana. Some Spanish patriots were at the Battle of Fort San Carlos, in present day Saint Louis, and others were recruited from the Canary Islands to the Louisiana Infantry Regiment.

Texas Longhorn Cattle

Could your ancestor be one of the Texas cattlemen who supplied approximately 10,000 head of Texas longhorn cattle in response to a request by Gálvez in 1779? If so, you may have a Spanish patriot.

Useful Sources

The following resources are helpful for your research; however, a translator may be required as some are written in Spanish:

  • The Canary Islanders of Louisiana, Gilbert C. Din
  • La participación canaria en la formación y reclutamiento del batallón de Luisiana, Miguel Molina Martínez
  • Spanish Records, Lists of Men Under General Don Bernardo de Gálvez in his Campaign against the British, 1779, C. Robert Churchill
  • Honor and Fidelity, Jack D. Holmes
  • José de Ezpeleta, Gobernador de la Mobila, 1780-1781, F. de Borja Medina Rojas
  • The Texas Connection with the American Revolution, Robert H. Thonhoff
  • New Mexico’s Contributions to the American Revolutionary Cause from Original Letters and Documents, 1779-1785, Harriett McCallum
  • Cuba 1753-1815, Crown, Military and Society, Allan Kuethe
  • The Journal of Don Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, Aileen Moore Topping, translator, and Francisco Morales Padrón, editor

Tracing Your Lineage

When researching a Spanish Patriot, ask yourselfp the following questions:

  • What do you know about that person?
  • Where did he or she live?
  • What type of Revolutionary War service did he or she perform?

Identifying who would be recognized as patriots through Spain’s contribution takes some detective work. It is best to start with the lineage by working your way back through the generations until you find a patriot.

When researching a Spanish patriot, you need to be aware of “What was Spanish America during the American Revolution?” This includes what is now the American Southwest, the Gulf Coast region and parts of the Central United States, and other areas, such as Mexico, Central America, South America, and Cuba.

Researching Your Native American Patriot

Can you trace your family back to those who lived during the American Revolution, 1775 - 1783?

If so, you may be eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Native Americans In The American Revolution

During the 1700s, Native Americans faced many threats to their way of life, culture, and existence on the land that they had inhabited for many, many generations. European colonization and expansion often led tribes to choose sides in numerous conflicts and wars to protect their interests.

At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Native Americans in the east, south, and along the frontier once again had to weigh their options to protect their homes and have access to trade and supplies. Some chose the Loyalist side, some the Patriotic cause, while others tried to remain neutral. Often tribes were split.

Since the mid-1980s, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) has supported efforts to identify the names of Native Americans and individuals of mixed heritage who supported the American struggle for independence from Great Britain during the American Revolution. In the last thirty years, the NSDAR Library has greatly expanded its collection of resources for Native American lineage research.

The NSDAR Lineage Research Committee is also an excellent resource for assistance with Native American Research. This committee has identified specific genealogical research materials, both online and in print, to help you document your lineage and locate proof of service for Native Americans who contributed to the American Revolution.

You are encouraged to document your Native American Patriot and submit an application for membership on these lines.

Steps to Begin Native American Lineage Research

  1. Start with yourself and work your way back, one generation at a time.
  2. Document as you go.
  3. These types of records will be very helpful: US federal, state, and county records, US Federal Indian records, US Federal Indian Census Rolls, Bureau of Indian Affairs, State records for non-federally recognized tribes and Tribal Records
  4. As you progress, identify tribe, time frame, and location.
  5. Learn the culture, beliefs, and history of the tribe; this will help direct your research as you work back on your lineage.

Could You Have A Native American Ancestor?

Hopefully, your family has documented proof of Native American Heritage. But if not, other possible clues may be:

  • Family stories told by your parents, grandparents, or other family members.
  • Customs, habits, words or phrases, distinctive dress, or traits that you have known since childhood.
  • Family talk or memorabilia of a specific Native American tribe.
  • Location of your ancestors’ home near Native American land and communities.
  • Family naming patterns.
  • Time frame and destination of family migration.
  • Family members missing from traditional genealogical records.
  • The smallest piece of information may be the key!