Uncovering the Heart of a Historian
Daughter's Family History Search Inspires Gift to DAR
Christine Gentry will tell you she was not interested in high-school history and, as a first-year biology major at University of California, Irvine, she avoided history courses "like the plague." But everything changed the summer she was 19.
That summer, her family traveled from their home in California to her grandparents' 50th anniversary celebration in New York. "We stopped to try to find my grandfather's childhood home on Lake Superior. Whether we found the right house, I do not know. But it sparked an interest in finding my ancestors' birthplaces."
Marrying a history major fanned the flame. A Vietnam War veteran, George Gentry serves as historian for his regiment. "Every trip we have ever taken has involved genealogical research, historical research or a combination thereof," Christine says. Over 35 years, they have perused more than 25 historical libraries, from Burbank to Boston and as far away as Berlin.
A 1980 stop at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., provided her first big find: Civil War pension records for Sylvester Bohanan, grandfather of the Duluth ancestor whose home her family sought in 1967. Bohanan had lived in Maine. "I suddenly realized that there was a great possibility that I had ancestry going back to the Civil War in this country." She connected with the DAR and began her search.
And while that particular search continues, names on the back of a family photo launched another. On a tip from a DAR member, she asked her library in Long Beach to secure a copy of Harlem (City of New York) Its Origin and Early Annals by James Riker. Reviewing pages of Dutch ancestors, she found her first two patriots: Cornelius Waldron and Arent Van Wormer of Albany County. She thought back to a favorite book about settlers' struggles in New York's Mohawk Valley. "As it turns out, my patriots were in that region during the Revolutionary War."
Christine wants to ensure that future Daughters can experience the same excitement of discovering their heritage that she has, so the Gentrys have established two charitable gift annuities with the DAR and supported many of its projects.
"We are a nation of immigrants," Christine explains. "Other countries developed from tribal groups or ethnic arrangements of one sort or another, but what ties our country together is that people valued the freedoms and responsibilities of creating a country where everyone could have the maximum ability to make something of themselves in life. That is what the DAR stands for.
"I feel very grounded here. It gives me a sense of where I belong in the whole scheme of things. People are always looking for that missing thing in their lives. In the DAR, I have found it."
Like Christine, you can celebrate the connection to your patriot and continue that legacy for generations to come by establishing a charitable gift annuity with NSDAR. We would love to have a conversation with you about the many benefits this gift provides to you and to the DAR. Simply call us today at (800) 449-1776 and we can work together to establish your legacy.