Who May Become A Member?
Any man shall be eligible for membership in the Society who, being of the age of eighteen years or over, and a citizen of good repute in the community, is the lineal descendant of an ancestor (man or woman) who was at all times unfailing in loyalty to, and rendered active service in the cause of American Independence. We call these ancestors, Patriots. The ancestor may have served either as an officer, soldier, seaman, marine, militiaman, in the armed forces of the Continental Congress, or of any of the several Colonies or states. The Patriot may have been a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a member of a Committee of Safety or Correspondence, a member of any Continental, Provincial, or Colonial Congress or Legislator. You may join if you are related to a patriot who performed actual service by overt acts of resistance to the authority of Great Britain or who provided supplies to the American cause; who served on political bodies supporting the Revolution, or who signed oaths of support and similar acts. No person advocating the overthrow of the Government of the United States by use of force or violence shall be eligible for membership in this Society.
Begin with what you know. Get a copy of your birth certificate, your marriage license and the birth certificate of your mate (if appropriate). Then get the same information about your parents and grandparents. If there have been deaths, get a copy of the death certificates and copies of wills. Usually, it is not too difficult to obtain these records for persons living since 1900. Some of the links provided on this website and others will help you with additional research. Libraries and court houses may have the documents you need. We are blessed in the Austin area and particularly in Texas with some of the greatest genealogy recourses in the world. With the Internet resources and the Family History Centers in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) near you, it is exciting what you can do locally. The Family History Centers can bring the resources from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to you. You can look at copies of microfilm from the Family History Library in the church near your home.
Do not be overwhelmed by the task. Do one generation at a time starting with you. The members can help by advising you where to look and what to search. Employees at the libraries and research facilities are often very knowledgeable and helpful. The goal is to "prove" the relationship from one generation to the next back to a "Patriot".
What is proof? Proof is a document that clearly shows the relationship of one generation to the next. Written and/or published family histories, while helpful, may not be proof. Proof includes the use of documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates, wills, personal or land tax records and other documents. You may also use census pages showing the family. That format was used in the Federal Census of 1850 and following. Prior to 1850 you may want to search other sources such as wills and tax records that may show relationships of fathers and heads of households and their children. Deeds and land records sometime give clues. Libraries have books with state and local records of early marriage records. Look for “marriage bonds” in those times before marriage licenses. This is not everything, but should get you well on your way to finding your family history.
Who is a Patriot? A Patriot is a man or a woman who materially helped the cause of the American Revolution. They may have been a soldier or they may have contributed as in one case "the use of horses, a wagon and a driver". Evidence of these non-military contributions may be in "Publick Claims" or other records. Any type of support for the Revolution does constitute "service" and qualifies that individual as a Patriot.
There are more helps under the Membership Tab at the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.