I finally got around to pursuing membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution over the course of the past couple of years. I am not really sure why I put it off for so long since it turned out I had most of the difficult work completed over 10 years ago. It was just a matter of gathering up the paperwork, filling in a few more details about my own immediate family and officially applying for membership.
Who knew filling out a simple form would be so not-really-simple? For each line on the DAR membership application there is a considerable amount of effort and associated paperwork. The citations and document copies for these more recent generations that back up the facts on the form turned out to be harder to nail down than I thought they would be.
In my case, I was fortunate to have to cover only the ground between me and my great great great grandmother Mary Elizabeth Butterworth of Bedford County Virginia. Others had entered the DAR by documenting how she and her siblings descend from my patriot ancestor, Benjamin Clement (A022963) so that left me only having to prove my connection to her. While it was pretty easy to prove, rounding up the documents turned out to be tough since some involved living relatives and I couldn’t just go order up copies the way you can for some things that date further in the past.
Benjamin Clement in The Revolutionary War
I learned that Benjamin Clement contributed during the Revolutionary War by manufacturing gunpowder in 1775. The book, The History of Pittsylvania County Virginia by Maude Carter Clement, first published in 1929, gives documentation to his contribution to the revolutionary war. The book includes specifics that were given in a statement that were published in the Virginia Gazette, August 1775 by Mr. Charles Lynch. “Sometime ago my having made powder was mentioned in your paper, but as I wish for no more merit (should there be any in it) than I deserve, I inform the public that Mr. Benjamin Clement is a partner with me in making the powder, and that he was the first in the colony I have heard of who attempted to make it, altho’ he did not bring it to perfection. Since our partnership we have brought it to such perfection with salt-petre of our own making that the best rifleman approve of it; and with the little mill we now have, we can make fifty pound weight a day. Salt-petre only is wanting which may very easily be made by observing the following directions; and when it is considered how much we want powder and that salt-petre is the principal ingredient, it is hoped that those who have the good of their country at heart will exert themselves in making it. Without it we can have no powder, consequently no means of defense; but with it we shall soon have both. I am sir, your very humble servant. Charles Lynch, August 5, 1775.” A set of directions for making salt-petre is included that involved digging up old dirt floors of meat packing houses and boiling the the dirt and using the strained liquor in a process similar to the one used to make lye from wood ashes. Colonel Charles Lynch was identified as a neighbor of Captain Clement and the account has him as “an old man of some seventy-five years at the time they partnered to manufacture the gun powder”.
When I set out to join the organization, mostly it was rooted in wanting to gain access to more genealogy research resources. I had no idea how much more opportunities for personal enrichment it provides. I am still making those discoveries and barely able to keep up with the list of options for me to join in on at each chapter meeting. In my particular chapter some of those opportunities are arranged on several tables around the room as stations that give details on how to contribute to various charities. I finally found a place that could use the collection of empty ink cartridges I was hoarding along with a bunch of school supplies I won’t be needing now that my kids have outgrown the K-12 years. Lots more space in my office cabinets now that so many “keep-this-just-in-case” items have been cleared out.
Tying into My West Virginia Genealogy
For anyone researching West Virginia surnames that might connect with mine here is how l connect to Benjamin Clement:
- I’ll start with my great grandmother, Lottie Mae Wills b. 1888, in West Virginia, died 1975 Kanawha County, WV. She was the daughter of John Harvey Wills and his wife Mary Elizabeth Barker.
- John Harvey Wills b 1853 (Bedford County?) Virginia was the son of Mary Elizabeth Butterworth and her husband Edward M. Wills. Some sources have his name as Edwin Wills.
- Mary Elizabeth Butterworth b. 1836 (Bedford County?) Virginia was the daughter of Stephen Butterworth and his wife Locky Ann Wilson.
- Stephen Butterworth b. abt. 1794 Virginia was the son of Isaac Butterworth and his wife Elizabeth Walker.
- Isaac Butterworth b. 1767 Bedford County, Virginia was the son of Elizabeth Clement and her husband Benjamin Butterworth.
- Elizabeth Clement b. abt 1745 Pittsylvania County, Virginia was the daughter of my patriot ancestor, Benjamin Clement b. abt. 1700 in King William County, Virginia.
There is even an old family home as part of this story, though it’s no longer held by a Clement ancestor (at least not as far as I know). It’s called Clement Hill and it is also mentioned in Maude Carter Clement’s book.
I’ve placed in bold text a few names in the lineage above to remind myself where I intend to go next in exploring my family lines. As I work my way through the piles of material I’ve been saving for when there would be more time to explore, I’ll continue to share the details here in my blog. I also run a group on Facebook called West Virginia genealogy, be sure to check that out if your research involves this area of the country. We now have around 4,000 members in the group looking for their kinfolk! Please share in the comments if you connect to any of the lines mentioned here.