May 26, 2019

A trove of clues at DAR library

It has been 17 years since I visited the library at the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution headquarters in Washington – and it was worth the wait.

Not that I came home with great gobs of new information on my ancestors. I didn’t, though I observed many a Daughter rushing to the copy machine to document new “finds.”

But I did bring home a few clues I hope will take me further in my research, and I spent every spare moment during the annual DAR Continental Congress squirreled away in the NSDAR Library. The stacks are easy to browse with books organized by family over here, by state over there.

I headed for New York, Greene County, to look for my forebears from Windham, Durham, Cairo and Hunter – the surnames Bray, Hill, Payne and Doolittle, my Connecticut Yankees.

In particular, I wanted to look at “Greene Genes,” bound volumes of a newsletter that historian Patricia Morrow published for several years.

I found marriages of some of my Payne cousins, such as Orland F. Payne of Big Hollow, who married Annie E. Hinman on Oct. 12, 1881, in Palenville.

Will abstracts included one for cousin Frederick Bray, “late of the town of Jewett, proved March 9, 1885,” mentioning wife Nancy, grandsons Walton and George A. Bray (sons of Abner), Frederick R., Naomi, John W. Trobe, Hellen Moore and daughter Temperance Bray. Cemetery listings included those of Edwin Payne, died Oct. 1, 1892, 80 years five months; and Permelia, April 5, 1880, 80 years, buried in Windham.

In another volume, there was a notation that Isaac Payne built the first sawmill in Big Hollow, came from Connecticut, and lived in town until his death at age 90. I’m hoping he’s related to my Goodyear L. Payne who married Asenath or Hannah Hill.

Bangor Public Library and Maine State Library both have wonderful collections of local histories on many New England communities.

But consider that the NSDAR Library has been receiving gifts of books from DAR chapters and individuals throughout the country for a century. The library, which is located in Memorial Continental Hall in the NSDAR building at 1776 D St. NW in Washington, is open to the public except in late June-early July, when Continental Congress is in session.

Planning a trip to Washington? Make a list of books you’d like to peruse ahead of time by searching the card catalog online at

The library is open Monday through Saturday, and a small daily use fee is charged to those who are not members of DAR or the Sons or Children of the American Revolution.

A few years ago, Heritage Quest listed the NSDAR Library, with more than 150,000 volumes, as the third most significant facility in the country based on its unique resources.

The annual Porter Family Reunion will be held noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Aroostook River Fish and Game Club in Ashland. Bring a dish to share for the potluck meal, table settings and a small item for the silent auction. All Porter family and friends are welcome. Relatives live in Mapleton, Castle Hill, Washburn, Ashland, Patten, Houlton, Mars Hill, Caribou and Presque Isle areas. The program will include a presentation of the Porter family history back to Joshua Porter and his three brothers.

The descendants of John and Hannah Davis will hold their 79th annual reunion at noon Sunday, Aug. 13, at Kiwanis Park, Park Street, Dover-Foxcroft. Bring lawn chairs, picnic lunch, beverages and an item for the auction.

The Aroostook County Genealogical Society will be at the Historic Pavilion 4-8 p.m. Aug. 1-3 at the Northern Maine Fair.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or send e-mail,

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