Applications for lineage societies can be informative—if, of course, they can be accessed and reviewed by other researchers. For the most part, lineage society applications are straightforward, whether establishing eligibility for local "First Families" programs or for national entities such as the Daughters of the American Revolution. Names, dates of significant life occurrences, and relationships tying together the generations from the applicant to the key ancestor should all be laid out clearly.
Not so for one particular D.A.R. application of a previous century. This I discovered indirectly while scouring for clues as to the origin of my third great-grandmother Delaney Townsend Charles, who disappeared from documentary sight by the time of the 1860 census.
Given Delaney Townsend was born long after the Revolutionary War, of course she, herself, would not be listed among the D.A.R. Patriot listings. But there was a possibility that someone like herself, born around 1816, might have a father or grandfather whose name might appear in such records.
It was a curious discovery to see included in the D.A.R. application of one descendant of Patriot John Townsend—the supposed father, also, of my third great-grandmother—not just the expected lineage of this applicant's direct line, but additional information on other lines, as well. While I have yet to send away for my own copy of this application, the wording of the application of Townsend descendant Annie Florence Kinney apparently includes a mention of Delaney.
Delaney was the Aunt of Mr. John R. Townsend of Blenheim. Delaney Rosella Townsend married Andrew Jackson Charles.... The daughters of Mrs. Delaney Rosella Townsend Charles were Emma and Fanny and she also had two sons. After the death of Andrew Jackson Charles, Mr. Light Townsend (father of John R. of Blenheim) went to Fla. and brought his two nieces back to Marlboro County with him and reared them in his home.
Confusing? Yes. Ms. Kinney's direct line? No.
Why this applicant chose to include that information in her own D.A.R. application, I'm not sure. Perhaps viewing the complete application may shed some light. That the narrative is specific to our Delaney, I can definitely affirm, for the description went on to name the two daughters—"Emma and Fanny"—and to specify Emma's married name (McClellan), plus a reference to one of her daughters, whom I've previously discussed.
Considering this reporting party made her application to D.A.R. in 1949, she was somewhat removed from the time period in question for Delaney. Not to mention, this was a woman who likely was born in 1907 or 1908. How she could personally confirm any details about her great-grandfather's supposed sister—then include it in her own application for D.A.R. membership—seems a detail which begs explanation.
Still, if it was a family recollection borne out by oral tradition, it does bring up some curious details. For one, the mention of "two sons" rather than the appearance of a different one in each of the two census records in which the Charles children are found—one showing the son as Benjamin, the other as Rupert—gives pause for the astute researcher to consider.
The other, concerning Light Townsend's role as guardian of the orphaned Charles daughters (but not the son), cries out for verification via guardianship records. If nothing else, it points to the need for an explanation as to why a paternal aunt, rather than a maternal uncle, turned out to be the one taking in the orphans—if, indeed, a Townsend relative from South Carolina was ever in the picture for these children at all.