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Lineage Societies and Genealogy

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Moving right along to Week 12 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, the writing prompt this week is "Membership."

Lineage societies were never on my radar or of interest to me until about a decade into my own personal genealogy journey, as I began to really dig deep into my research. My only real point of reference was Lorelai's mother, a well-to-do socialite and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), from the comedy-drama television series Gilmore Girls. Five years after it's final episode aired (but before the Netflix miniseries), I became a DAR Member-At-Large.

There are many reasons to join a lineage society. Most are generally involved in educational, cultural, military, and social causes. They typically participate in charitable endeavors, historic preservation, and community service. Many lineage societies have perks and privileges for their members including access to libraries, repositories, publications, databases, conventions, tours, and invitations to special events. Scholarships are another common reason for joining lineage societies. For me, the prestige is my reason for pursuing such memberships. To have other genealogists scour and critique every element of my application, and to have years of genealogical research verified and validated, is so rewarding!

There are hundreds of organizations for those who can trace their ancestors to a specific individual or event. Do you descend from a Mayflower Pilgrim or one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence? Did your ancestors serve in the War of 1812 or the Mexican War? Can you prove a direct descent from a president of the United States? Perhaps your ancestors' migration qualifies them as a first family or pioneer of a specific state. There are countless opportunities to join a lineage society!

I am currently working on my application to the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA). It's been a journey many months in the making. According to their website, members shall be "women who are lineal bloodline descendants from an ancestor of worthy life who, residing in an American colony, rendered efficient service to our country during the Colonial period..." Similar to my DAR membership, I am applying to this society with a previously unrecognized ancestor. This means no one has previously joined this society descending from this particular ancestor and there is no prior application for me to "piggyback" onto. In regards to this specific application, this means I have to first prove my ancestor's eligibility and then I need to prove each and every generation between myself and him.

My ninth great grandfather, Samuel Cook, was born on 30 July 1641 in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British America to Henry Cook and Judith Birdsall.¹ Samuel purportedly removed to New Haven, New Haven Colony, British America where he married his first wife, Hope Parker, on 02 May 1667.² Samuel died about April 1703 in Wallingford, New Haven Colony, British America.³

Wallingford was established on 10 October 1667 when the Connecticut General Assembly authorized the “making of a village on the east river” to thirty-eight planters and freemen. Samuel Cook was one of those planters, a signer of the covenant, and one of the original founders of Wallingford, New Haven Colony, British America.⁴ Other founders have been accepted as qualifying ancestors with NSCDA and, it is my hope, this service should qualify Samuel Cook, as well.

Samuel's life is very well documented in books and records specific to both Salem, Massachusetts and Wallingford, Connecticut. He was said to be the first shoemaker and tanner of leather in Wallingford. "He was regarded as a very good man by his friends and neighbors, and was frequently called to fill offices of responsibility and trust in the village, and in the church of which he was a member."⁵ He had fifteen children and three marriages.

At the time of Samuel's death, he left an estate valued at £340. If online currency and inflation calculators are worth a salt, this would be the equivalent of over $76,000.00 USD. Arguably a successful life lived.

From Samuel Cook, the direct line of descent which I will need to document and prove, includes his son, Joseph Cook (1683-1764) → grandson, Benjamin Cook (1717-1790) → great grandson, Merriman Cook (1748-1827) → 2nd great grandson, Joseph Cook (1768-1864) → 3rd great grandson, Andre Cook (1799-1863) → 4th great grandson, Isaac Cook (1833-1904) → 5th great granddaughter, Anna Cook Taylor (1870-1951) → 6th great grandson, Gage Taylor (1901-1947) → 7th great granddaughter, Lee Ann Taylor Finer (1936-1971) → 8th great grandchild, [Living Person] → 9th great granddaughter, Me!

If you've read about my upcoming heritage trip, you may remember that Wallingford is on my short list of present day towns I plan to visit later this year. I hope by the time of that trip, my research regarding Samuel will have been verified and my application with NSCDA approved and completed. The prestige sure would add a little extra something to my visit.

What are your thoughts on lineage societies? Do you belong to any? Have you ever thought about applying to one or more? Whether working on research to help qualify an ancestor or compiling sources and documents for your own membership application, I may be able to help!


1. A Book of Records of Marriages, Births and Deaths for the County of Essex, begun in the year 1658, Essex County, Massachusetts, vol 1-2, B, page 8-9, Henry Cooke household; “Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001,” image (‌3:1:3QSQ-G97M-B3G2 : accessed 02 Mar 2022); Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston, Massachusetts.

2. Vital Records of New Haven, 1649-1850, Hartford, Connecticut, Part 1, The Connecticut Society of the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America 1917-1924, Order of the Founders and Patriots of America, page 25, marriage of Samuell Cooke and Hope Parker; “Connecticut Marriages, 1630-1997,” image (‌ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9CR-SHJ2 : accessed 03 Mar 2022).

3. New Haven Probate Record 1647 – 1687, Vol. 1 Part I, page 305-306, Samuel Cook probate record; “New Haven (Conn.) probate records, 1647-1916,” image FamilySearch (‌ark:/‌‌‌61903/3:1:3QS7-L92K-G9NT-B : accessed 03 Mar 2022); Probate Court, New Haven, Connecticut.

4. Clara L Newell, John R. Cottrill, Clifford Leavenworth Jr., A History of Wallingford 1669-1935: Compiled for the Connecticut Tercentenary Celebration, (Wallingford, Conn.: Three Joyous Days, 1935), page 17; FamilySearch ( : accessed 07 Mar 2022) image 18; Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. Also, Founders and Descendants of Wallingford, Connecticut (The Descendant Committee, Wallingford Tercentenary Celebration), page 8; FamilySearch ( : accessed 07 Mar 2022) image 11; Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

5. Charles Henry, Stanley Davis, Early Families of Wallingford, Connecticut, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1979), page 66.


Disclaimer: Each blog post is created and presented for marketing and entertainment purposes only but are based on larger research which adheres to the standards of The Board of Certification of Genealogists® as set forth in Genealogical Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry Imprint, Turner Publishing, 2014).

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