If you research anyone who was alive during the Revolutionary War and old enough to serve in some way, check if they are in the DAR Ancestor Database.
This database shows information about American patriots who served the cause of the Revolutionary War in some way. They may have fought in the war, but they may instead have served on a committee or provided support in some other way. Information about the patriots was gathered from applications that women submitted to join the Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) patriotic service organization. To join the DAR, like I did, a woman must prove her descent from a qualifying patriot. In the early days of the organization the requirements for proof were less rigorous, but today the evidence for each statement on the application is gone over carefully by researchers in the organization before being accepted.
When you search the Ancestor database, check out this handy guide. The results of the search will show a listing of patriots with birth information, death information, service state, service description and rank, and possibly service source and/or pension information. Be sure to click through to the full record. The full record will also show the residence during the war, spouse(s), and “Associated Applications and Supplementals.”
It may not be obvious, but the “Associated Applications and Supplementals” section is very important. Herein lie the sources for all the information on the patriot given above. Each line here represents a woman who submitted papers showing descent from that ancestor. The Spouse and Child columns name the patriot’s spouse and patriot’s child that each woman descends from. If there is a D on that line, you can click it and see a descendants list the generations between that woman and her ancestor, showing the names, dates, and places she gave on her application (except for any living generations). Also, if there is an S on that line, the supporting documentation she submitted is available on the website for purchase.
Each application in the list can be ordered from the website for $10. The application will generally show the line of descent with names, dates, and places (note that dates and places are not required for all generations), as well as information about the patriot and some level of source citation for all the information. More recent applications will generally have better source citations.
The images of all the supporting documentation for those S applications can be ordered from the website for $20. These are the actual documents that the source citations in the application refer to. There could be some great information here, documents you may have never seen before.
The “Associated Applications and Supplementals” list shows older applications first, so in general I like to look at the newer applications at the bottom of the list where the requirements for documentation were stricter. I also like to look at the descendants lists to see what each application actually said. If you share more that one generation with an applicant, maybe you’d like to see that one. Know that newer applications can refer back to older applications for the sources they used. So it may be wise to order just the copy of a newer application without the supporting documentation at the same time, and just check if the source citation section on that application points to an older application. And of course that older application in turn could refer to an even older application as well. But if you do notice a source citation for anything that sounds new and interesting, and it is available, by all means consider ordering that supporting documentation.
Remember that the DAR Ancestor Database is not a complete listing of people who fought during the war or who supported the war effort. The database is growing with new Ancestors and additional information about existing Ancestors as members submit applications.
But this source does have a lot of great information, much of it well documented, and could possibly be a link to getting valuable documents about your family that you have never seen before.