Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Now listen. I know I said somewhere on the internet (maybe it was here on my blog) that this lineage society thing wasn’t typically my sort of thing, but it so happens now that I kind of enjoy this new exercise. Wouldn’t the preservation of your forefather’s legacy excite you as well? I’d only imagine it would, but if the bug hasn’t taken you yet I trust it shall in due time. So here’s the latest…

I am now a very jubilant and proud member of the DUVCW or Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. In short DUVCW is:

a sororial lineage society of direct descendants of veterans of the Federal US Army who defended and preserved the Union during the Civil War.

Did I note how excited I am about this membership? It was in April of this year that I actually acquired successful membership, but I didn’t get my awesome certificate and badge in my mailbox until two days ago. How fitting that these items should arrive two days before the Juneteenth holiday. Also, I have joined the ladies at the Mary Todd Lincoln Detached Tent here in Florida and look forward to attending future meetings.

The application process for this society was much easier than the process I went through for DAR membership. This is mostly because there are fewer generations to work back to going to the Civil War as opposed to the Revolutionary War. Before I outline my process for membership allow me to introduce you to my Civil War ancestor: Private Alexander Branch and others in my direct line of descent.

Alexander Branch is my 3rd great grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side. The line of descent is as follows:

Alexander Branch (Great-Great-Great Grandfather)
Louisa Branch (Great-Great Grandmother)
William “Willie” Jones (Great-Grandfather)
Johnetta Jones (Maternal Grandmother)

Alexander Branch was born December 14, 1838 in Port Hudson, Louisiana. The son of Phillip and Emily Branch, all enslaved and owned by John Whitaker, they can be found in record sets on both sides of the Louisiana/Mississippi state and county lines. This particular ancestor is someone I have only known about since 2012 roughly. In fact, prior to 2012 I didn’t know anything about my Grandmother’s father’s family. Once more I should thank Ancestry DNA for connecting me with many of my Branch cousins and continuing to do so, but I had also put on my thinking cap around that same time.

The dilemma lie in my Great-Grandfather, Willie Jones (Grandson of Alexander Branch). Neither my mother or her siblings had ever known their Grandfather Willie. It was said that he committed suicide while my Grandmother was a teenager, but something about that story feels amiss to me. To complicate things even further, the name William or Willie Jones and an no date of death it would be and is near impossible to find a death record for him. However, my mother did recall Aunt Irene and Uncle David. These two were the aunt and uncle of my Grandmother Johnetta – her father’s siblings. My mother knew them well and knew exactly what happened to them which permitted me to go after their California death records with hopes of uncovering their parent’s names. Once I received their death records and learned the names of their folks, Frank Jones and Louisa Branch, along with place of birth I was finally able to locate the entire family on the 1900 U.S. Census residing in Amite County, Mississippi. This new paper trail discovery combined with the power of DNA, allowed me to immediately identify that the mother of Willie Jones, Louisa Branch was the daughter of Alexander Branch. Furthermore, it was one of my Branch family DNA cousins that would connect me with the Branch family historians. Words cannot express how grateful I am for the information they have bestowed upon me. Many thanks to Cousins Adolph Morris and Edward Kirk for helping me to find my way.

These seasoned Branch family historians was how I first learned that Alexander Branch was a Civil War veteran and a former slave of John Whitaker, formerly of Halifax County, NC. I was gifted the documents I would need to prove my lineal descent a few years prior for the DUVCW. Several of which come from the military pension file of Alexander Branch. The photo to the side states Alexander’s date of birth as taken from the book with the ages of the negros. The one below was also found in the pension record:

And here we can see just four years prior to the beginning of the Civil War that Alexander Branch along with his parents and siblings were found listed in the 1857 probate record of their late owner, John Whitaker. How is one to feel seeing those dollar amounts next to their names? It is heart-breaking.

Seeing that my ancestor decided to take action by joining Company B of the 4th Louisiana USCT Calvary makes me feel pretty damn proud. Here are a couple shots from my 2015 visit to the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum where we found Alexander’s name on the memorial.

Now that I’ve shared a little about my ancestor let me explain the process for other family and friends interested in pursuing DUVCW membership. (Males interested should look into membership at the SUVCW.) Trust me when I say it is fairly easy to get started with this society. First you’ll want to visit the Membership information detailed on the website. There you will find eligibility, organization and a link to download an application with instructions for filling out the application as well as gathering your references for lineage or proofs. Since I had decided to join via a Detached Tent I was able to work with a registrar from the Tent on my application. I had very few questions since there were only a couple of generations to work backward to reach Alexander Branch and I had already collected many of the proofs years in advance. Once my application was completed I sent it to the Tent registrar who then reviewed it for accuracy. Lastly, I was invited to a meeting in April where there were 8 women total being inducted that day! It felt quite nice to stand with others honoring their ancestors through membership in the DUVCW.

I anticipate learning more about the Civil War and the contributions of many who fought to preserve the Union and more importantly to abolish slavery.

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