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Discovering ties to America’s early history
APRIL 15, 2013
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Dassel genealogist becomes a Daughter of the American Revolution

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

DASSEL, MN – Anne Tormanen of rural Dassel has been uncovering links to her ancestry for the past 12 years.

It was her love for genealogy that helped her discover her roots in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), a national society for women who have proven they have lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.

Tormanen knew she had family who were members of the DAR, but she’s ashamed to say now that she didn’t think much of it.

It wasn’t until Tormanen attended a genealogy conference and connected with women of the DAR, that it struck a chord within her.

It was there that Tormanen learned her great-grandmother, Julia (Gilkerson) Blatt was a Daughter of the American Revolution.

Currently, there are 165,000 members in the society with 3,000 chapters across the US and around the world.

Founded in 1890, the DAR’s mission is to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism.

Like genealogy itself, tracing her connection to the DAR soon became a passion for Tormanen.

In order to become a DAR and follow in the footsteps of her great-grandmother, Tormanen needed to prove her connection to her great-grandmother. This included birth certificates, not only hers, but of her parents, as well as any marriage and death certificates, most of which were found in courthouses.

The process of gathering the necessary documentation began for Tormanen in the fall of 2012.

Because she already had family in the DAR, the process was much easier than it could have been for her. Tormanen only had to find direct lineage to her great-grandmother, whereas others who think they may have an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution, must trace their lineage with documentation, directly to that particular soldier.

Tormanen happens to be a DAR three-fold, though she will have to prove the second and third connections.

The first soldier, James Batchelder from New Hampshire, is her 4-great grandfather.

Through her research of the Batchelder family, Tormanen found he is directly related to the controversial English minister, Rev. Stephen Bachiler. She noted that there are often different variations of names, which can make it tricky to find accurate information.

The second patriot Tormanen is related to, is Bartholomew Somers of Vermon, another 4-great grandfather. Tormanen learned that he was a recent immigrant from Scotland at the time he entered the war.

Now, Tormanen has to find the proper documentation to prove her connection to Somers.

Her third connection is with a Captain John Gray, also of New England.

Being a DAR: What does it mean?

For Tormanen, becoming a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) has brought about an awakening of her country’s history.

Because she is a DAR, and therefore directly related to a patriot who fought for America’s independence, Tormanen is more interested in the country’s history and other wars fought on US soil.

She is also more respectful and has made a conscious decision to pass that respect on to her grandchildren.

“[The American Revolution] made it possible for us to be here today,” Tormanen said, commenting on the hardships those soldiers had to endure for the sake of their freedom.

Having that human connection to such a soldier – “I think that is really precious,” she said.

“I like thinking about what other people did on our behalf,” she commented, adding that after all, she wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her ancestors.

The DAR as an organization “is a good way of preserving history and bringing it to the forefront,” Tormanen said, adding that there is also a society for sons of the Revolutionary War.

If anyone suspects his or her ancestors lived in America prior to or at the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), Tormanen encourages them to dig a bit further into their history.

She suggests starting by collecting knowledge that can be found within one’s immediate family.

One can also search genealogy records that are available online such as Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org.

That suspected person can then be traced to the war by using pension records, which can also can be found online, Tormanen noted.

She also suggests using the DAR as a resource, which may even uncover a family member who is already in the society.

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