First Families of Pennsylvania (FFP) Application

One of the goals that I gave myself for this summer was to apply to join some lineage societies. I feel that learning the application process would be beneficial to my genealogy education and also a nice addition to my genealogy resume. If I do become a professional genealogist when I retire, I could advertise that I could help clients with their society applications.

The societies that I am interested in applying to this summer are:

  • First Families of Pennsylvania (FFP)
  • Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)
  • General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD)

All three of these societies follow the same line in my family tree to Samuel Harding, Jr. I thought that I would start with the First Families of Pennsylvania (FFP) application as it was the cheapest and easiest to access the application. The FFP has three time periods in which your ancestor could have resided in Pennsylvania:

  • Colony and Commonwealth: 1638-1790
  • Keystone and Cornerstone: 1791-1865
  • Pennsylvania Proud: 1866-1900
Screenshot from the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania’s website

The documents that I was able to find say that Samuel Harding, Jr. located to Pennsylvania in 1817 which would make him eligible for the Keystone and Cornerstone: 1791-1865 group. I did check my tree to see if I had other direct ancestors that might have lived in Pennsylvania prior to that, but I didn’t find any.

I honestly thought the application would be easy to complete as I feel like my tree is well documented. I have a new appreciation for the amount of work that is required to join lineage societies. Samuel Harding, Jr. is eight generations away from me. That is eight generations of documenting birth, marriage, death, and a connection between a child and his/her parents all with source citations and explanations on the back. I also needed to include sources proving Samuel’s earliest known residence in Pennsylvania.

I had actually drafted out my document plan a few months ago and started gathering some documents that I didn’t have (mostly newer ones like my parents birth certificates). One hole that I have is that I am missing my 2nd great-grandmother Ella Webb Whittaker’s death certificate. I checked with the City of Buffalo and they do not have it so I ordered a copy from NYS on 13 May 2019 and have to wait about eight months. I do have other records of her death that I can use such as her obituary, will, and/or funeral card in place of the death certificate for the application.

Ella’s obituary from the Buffalo Evening News

I actually thought that I was missing many more death certificates and was annoyed at myself for not ordering these years ago. I guess that I thought since I knew the death date and who the parents were, that there was no benefit to paying for the death certificate. Luckily for me (and more annoyance at myself), I found that I had the death certificates in my binders from years ago that were given to me and I still haven’t scanned them and uploaded them to my online family trees. What if I were to lose my binders in some disaster? I really need to continue to get myself organized!

One of the death certificates that I didn’t realize that I had was for my great-grandfather Ernest Larkin

I am appreciative to this application process as I learned a lot. It reinforced my need to organize, scan documents, and upload them onto my online family trees. I found that I was missing places of birth, marriage, and death that I had evidence for and could update that information on my family tree. It also made me appreciate that I already had so much information that I had collected/was given over the years to make this process go much faster. If I didn’t have these documents and had to order them, I don’t think that I would be able to join these societies until next summer! I hope that future clients would be patient and willing to spend the money it would take to order the needed documents and then wait eight months for them to come in prior to them being able to apply for the society that they are interested in.

I have all of my application documentation gathered together. My plan today is to put the source citations on the back. If possible, I’d like to get this out in the mail within the next few days.

The best thing that this process did was that in my need to prove a marriage place, I finally uncovered where my 2nd great-grandparents got married! That was new information that I didn’t have before! They were married in Elmira Heights, NY. Now that I know this, I wonder if I can find a record that the Reverend kept. Who knows what it might say!

Newspaper announcement of marriage for Charles Whittaker and Ella Webb