In 2013, after having the intention of doing it since about 1995, I finally got around to pursuing membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. I can’t say why I put it off for so long when I had the most difficult part of it ready to go. I ended up spending the most effort to collect the documentation I needed for my immediate family.
For each line on the DAR membership application there is a considerable amount of effort and associated paperwork. The citations and document copies for recent generations, necessary to support the facts on the form, can be harder to obtain than than the older material.
I was fortunate. I only had to cover 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). It was only necessary for me to prove my connection to her.
Benjamin Clement in The Revolutionary War
I learned that Benjamin Clement contributed to the Revolutionary War effort by manufacturing gunpowder in 1775. The book, The History of Pittsylvania County Virginia, by Maude Carter Clement, first published in 1929, mentions a statement that was 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. It involved digging up old dirt floors of meat packing houses, boiling it 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 DAR, mostly it was rooted in learning more about doing genealogy research and having access to records. I had no idea how much more opportunities for personal enrichment it provides. I am still making discoveries. In my particular chapter, examples of how I can contribute are sometimes arranged on tables. This makes it easy to donate items to various charities simply by showing up for our meetings. I finally found a place that could use the collection of empty ink cartridges I was hoarding along with a bunch of school supplies my kids have outgrown. 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 who might benefit from my connection to Benjamin Clement, here are the details that lead to Kanawha County, West Virginia for the Clement line:
- 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 mentioned in Maude Carter Clement’s book.
Please share in the comments if you connect to any of the lines mentioned here. Others who are researching on this line will be able to see them and may want to connect with you.