As this month will mark the 244th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord (where my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Jason Russell was killed by British troops), I decided to do a search to see how many patriot ancestors I had. I used the “Ancestor Search” on the website of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This does not necessarily identify all patriots, but rather those for whom a descendant has joined that organization, with caveats that not all service may qualify today.
Using this search, I found 23 direct ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I also know of at least one more ancestor, Joseph Tourtellotte, who was not listed here, but had a wonderful pension record, bringing my total to 24. They were mostly privates, along with one corporal, two lieutenants, a captain, a major, and a surgeon’s mate. I also had another nine ancestors listed here under the category of patriotic service, for other ways they helped the revolutionary war effort.
However, I was quite surprised after searching for my ancestor Daniel Ward (1700–1777) of Worcester, Massachusetts. I didn’t expect to see him here, given his age, but for completeness I checked every ancestor alive during the war.
This report had the note that future applicants must prove correct service. I’ve seen this before, where in the past, a descendant of someone with a common name had claimed the service of someone else with the same name. However, the comments included the notation that he had “signed the petition of Worcester Loyalists, 1774”! This meant that descendants of my ancestor Daniel Ward had joined the DAR under the service of a different man of the same name, when in fact their ancestor was actually a Loyalist!
I checked the source the DAR cited, The Loyalists of Massachusetts (London, 1930). Sure enough, there is my ancestor Daniel Ward, signing right at the top along with 51 other residents of Worcester:
I found further information from Collections of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume 13, pp. 205–6:
“Capt. Daniel Ward was a man of considerable prominence in the town, previous to his signing, 1774, that obnoxious protest; but his name, as well as those of Joseph Hart, [and] Israel and Jacob Stephens, disappear from the town after being classed among the list of enemies.”
Daniel Ward never left Worcester. He died three years after signing this petition in 1777. His probate apparently got held up until 1791, with his son Asa being accused of embezzlement. Daniel’s son and my ancestor Phineas Ward (1729–1808), along with the latter’s son Phineas, Jr., both served in the Revolutionary War for the colonies for several years, the younger Phineas serving under Daniel’s more well-known second cousin Major General Artemas Ward (1727–1800). One can only imagine the family discord between father and son during the remaining years of Daniel Ward’s life!
 Worcester County, Massachusetts Probate Records, Daniel Ward, 1791, Worcester, #61663.
 Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolutionary War, 16: 542-43.
About Christopher C. Child
Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.View all posts by Christopher C. Child →