Sunday, November 15, 2015

52 Ancestors #46: Discovering My Local Family History Center

Ancestor Name: Powhatan Perrow Jennings (1812-1858)

I am a newbie to genealogy. I took over my father's research in late 2012 and freely admit most of my work is done online. I send away for offline vital records from many sources and obituaries from local libraries that offer them. I go "graving" to photograph ancestors' headstones and conduct research in local genealogy and history societies where my ancestors lived. I spend a lot of time in the Virginia Room of the Fairfax County Library. But when my initial Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) application was rejected by the National Society after being accepted by the local chapter, a very unusual occurrence I'm told. I had to learn a new skill.

My Revolutionary War patriot had already been accepted by DAR through his grandson Patterson Gilliam Jennings (c1824-1899). This was good news. If I could prove my lineage to Benjamin Jennings, I did not have to re-prove his military service.[1]

My lineage to Benjamin Jennings and the lineage already
 accepted by DAR; created using Powerpoint

I submitted my source documents -- birth, marriage and relevant death certificates -- for the most recent three generations. Each birth and death certificate proving the linkage to the previous generation. For my great grandfather, Charles Edward Jennings, the linkage to his father, Powhatan, was his death certificate. For Powhatan's linkage to his father, I used a reference in a book. And that was the problem the National Society had with my application.

I was worried about how I would prove that John William Jennings, Sr., was Powhatan's father as Powhatan died two months before his father and I have not found a will for John, Sr. Land deeds I had retrieved from Amherst County were plentiful but silent on relationships.

So I reviewed the source documents I already had for Powhatan Perrow Jennings, and realized I had a Virginia, Selected Marriages, 1785-140, index record from Ancestry for his second marriage. It included his parents names. It also included a FHL Film Number. I learned how to order the microfilm and had it sent to my local Family History Center, which was not five miles from my house. Who knew!

Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940, index record from

Powhatan Perrow Jennings and Elizabeth Rhodes marriage registration; image
courtesy of the Family History Center

When it arrived, I got a tutorial on the one microfilm reader that also scanned, and emailed the images to myself.[2] After I returned home, I created the proper source citation added the document to my tree and emailed a copy to DAR. Three weeks later my application was accepted. As of 5 November 2015 I am a member of that organization and look forward to joining my local chapter on various veteran-related volunteer projects.

Now that I know how to order microfilm from the Family History Center, I've become a regular at my local center and have attended a few meetings there when outside speakers are invited. So proving Powhatan Perrow Jennings' linkage to his father taught me yet another resource to use in my genealogy research. And that's a good thing!

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Changes.

[1] Benjamin Jennings served twice during the Revolutionary War. Once with the Virginia Militia and once with Col. Morgan's Riflemen. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching the details of his military service and visiting the Saratoga National Historic Park.

[2] There were 14 Jennings marriages in Amherst County, Virginia, on that microfilm reel. I emailed copies of all of them to myself and have added them to my tree.

British Surrender at Saratoga
Revolutionary War Soldier


  1. I, too, initially had my application rejected. I had a property transfer between a 25-year old son to his father -- but it did not specify that it was his son in the deed. The reviewers thought it would be unusual for a 25-year old single man to own property and sell it to his father and not the other way around. Luckily for me, additional documentation of the property transfers both before and after made the case. I ended up submitting an additional 50 pages to prove that one relationship.

    1. Congratulations! I have another patriot ancestor somewhat like your situation. I'll need to provide over 75 pages of court records to prove two linkages between generations.

  2. Schalene, congratulations on both your successful research learning experience and your new membership as a Daughter.

    1. Thank you, Linda! I don't know why I waited so long to discover my local Family History Center.

  3. Working on my daughter's DAR application, your experience is helping me re-evaluate all my sources. Yesterday, I looked in my binder and luckily seeing your blog right now confirmed I am missing direct evidence for a marriage! Off to order the microfilm.

  4. I have a REV ancestor, hopefully at some point, maybe I can look into tackling that project. Great story.

    1. Jeanne, don't let the process intimidate you. Your local DAR chapter will assign someone to work with you on your application and you have a year to complete it once you express an interest in joining. There is a form on to fill out, which is the first step.

  5. I have not applied for the DAR, but I can answer your questions about the Gilliam's, and Powhatan Perrow Jennings, because this is my side of the family too. Feel free to message me privately, and I will be glad to share the information with you.

    1. Good to hear from you! I was able to prove that Powhatan Perrow Jennings was the son of John W. Jennings, Sr. and am now a member of DAR. However, I know nothing of Gilliam family and always wondered about that middle name. I would be interested in contacting you for more information. My email address is psd11719 @ (no spaces).