Saturday, January 14, 2012

Are My Ancestors Better than Yours?

OK, you missed the deadline for the 2011 Lineage Society applications for the Ohio Genealogical Society.  Now, you have all year to procrastinate again.  Start now and you can submit your application for the 2012 deadline of December 31.  The 2013 OGS Conference will be held in Cincinnati, OH.

Let me ask a question.  How do you perceive the concept of a Lineage Society?
Do you see a lineage society as a "my ancestor is better than yours" society?  Or, do you see a lineage society as an "honoring my ancestor" society?  I would like your feedback on your concept of a lineage society.

Any time you apply to a lineage society, of any kind, you must first understand the principle and intent behind that organization.  You have some societies that are extremely difficult to be accepted to, and you have some societies that are very easy to be accepted to.

Does joining a  lineage society make you a different person? No, I don't think it makes you any different.  If anything, it should make you appreciate the sacrifices and hardships your ancestors endured in order for you to even become a member of a lineage society.

Does the fact that you may receive physical recognition of your research efforts make you a different person?  It is tangible evidence that you have researched and documented and spent hours of time putting together your lineage application in the first place. 

The Ohio Genealogical Society has four different lineage groups to honor your ancestors.  We have First Families of Ohio (your ancestor had to have lived in Ohio prior to the end of 1820); Settlers and Builders of Ohio (your ancestor had to have lived in Ohio between 1821 and the end of 1860); Century Families of Ohio (your ancestor had to have lived in Ohio between 1861 and 100 years prior to the current year); and the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio (SCWFO).  SCWFO is one of the few lineage societies that allows you to submit a collateral relative.  Upon application and acceptance to these groups you receive a certificate and a medal.  If your ancestor lived in Ohio prior to 1803 when Ohio became a state, you receive another special pin.

Wear do you wear these medals?  What do you do with them?  I wear mine to conferences and to special events related to the organizations that I am a member of.  How do I wear them?  Sometimes, I simply pin them on the clothes I am wearing.  For the OGS conference, my pins are on my name badge holder.  I also wear my pins when I am doing a program on lineage societies. The medals and pins could eventually go in to a shadow box for display. 

The certificates are currently in a notebook.  They could be framed and put on a wall.  (I don't have a lot of wall space in my home)

Joining a lineage society is NOT  meant to proclaim "my ancestor is better than yours."  It should be for the simple reason that you are honoring your ancestors and leaving a legacy of their contributions and lives for future generations and researchers.  Your ancestors do not have to be rich and famous to honor them.


  1. Well, I guess I'm one of those procrastinators who will have to wait, again, until Dec. 31! But for a matter of more solid evidence than the circumstantial link via one of those 100-year-old biographical sketch books from the family's home town, I'd be able to honor the members of my husband's family with a First Families of Ohio designation. I just haven't been able to put my fingers on the right "smoking gun."

    And that, in a nutshell, is my answer to your query: how I see lineage societies. I view them as a way to honor not only the ancestor, but the elder living members of my family who qualify for such recognition.

    1. Jacqi, you are so right. My father is 98 years old and he thinks what I am doing is fantastic. He didn't know that much about his own family, either. Sometimes, those 100 year old biographical sketch books are the only things we get. If your search fails to find the 'smoking gun' it may be able to be used. I'm sure you've looked for a will or estate. Have you looked at siblings to see if there are biographies on any of them, or their children? Sometimes our gems turn up in strange places. Good luck in your search.

  2. There are other reasons to belong. I joined the Mayflower Society as a sort of test for my genealogy skills. Having my application accepted was like winning an Oscar for a genealogist. Its like a stamp of approval on your research and writing skills. And another reason you didn't mention is one I found after attending my first Mayflower meeting- every time I get together with the Mayflower Society members it is like a family reunion. I love meeting new "cousins" and seeing "cousins" at all the luncheons and Congresses. It is a very wonderful group, and I never expected to feel that way. It was a pleasant surprise!

  3. Heather, It IS a stamp of approval when one is accepted in to a lineage society. I think that there can be a camaraderie between lineage members of all society groups as they usually do have a common tie to the group. It is a positive step forward. Congratulations on your Mayflower acceptance.