By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Florida State Genealogical Society (FSGS) has awarded Cary Hardee and his descendants certificates stating that they are officially Florida Pioneer Descendants.
In order to receive a Florida Pioneer Descendant certification, Hardee had to find a person who had settled in Florida Territory prior to March 3, 1845, when the territory was admitted as a state. From there, he had to trace and document an unbroken line of descendants from that ancestor to himself.
It wasn’t as simple as going on ancestry.com. To meet the Florida State Genealogical Society standards and definition of “Florida Pioneer Descendant,” the task was to trace and document that line, with physical copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates for each person. The FSGS handbook for those who want to make an application for Florida Pioneer Descendant certification is 45 pages long, and the application fee is $45. The handbook can be downloaded from the FSGS website, www.flsgs.org. Click on the Florida Pioneer tab.
Finding the evidence to support Hardee’s application took months and months of detective work, tracking down documents, poring through old census records, probate records, last will and testaments, deeds for land ownership and archived newspaper articles. “I worked on it little by little, whenever I had time,” he said. In some cases, he even trekked out to cemeteries where some of his ancestors were buried and photographed their tombstones.
“I was lucky to have an old family Bible where a lot of this was recorded as it happened,” he added, explaining that such Bibles, in which several generations carefully recorded each birth, marriage and death as it happened, and which were then handed down to children and grandchildren, are acceptable as a certain standard of proof by the FSGS. The family Bible Hardee referred to belonged to his great-great-grandmother, Rhoda Ann Livingston.
“On the other hand, if I were to go out today, buy a Bible and write all this in it, that would not be accepted. The information had to be recorded as it happened.”
The further back in time he went, the harder it became to find documentation. Prior to 1917, the state of Florida did not use death certificates, one of the primary sources accepted by the FSGS. In the absence of a primary source, two secondary sources of proof may be used, such as newspaper articles and tombstones.
commonplace here, handwritten death notices bordered with black ribbon were distributed to the townspeople to let them know when the funeral services would be held. Hardee has one of those notices in his possession, dated May 31, 1886, for his great-great-grandmother, Rhoda Livingston.
In the end, Hardee was able to document his direct line of descent from not one, but two Florida pioneers: Reddin Wallace Parramore and Daniel G. Livingston. After he turned in his paperwork and supporting documentation to the FSGS, it took them nine months to go through his stack of documentation, verify everything and finally award certificates to Hardee and several other family members, officially declaring them “Florida Pioneer Descendants.”