Mayflower Society Application Process

I have gone through the Mayflower Society Application process and our family has been officially accepted as members.  Our roots traced our family back to Francis Cooke, Stephen Hopkins and Elizabeth Fisher Hopkins who came over on the Mayflower in 1620.

What an exhausting yet rewarding process.  What is exhausting is the detail that the society expects when proving a connection.  This is critical in order to ensure you have the true relationship established.

  • Memberships are handled through the individual state societies.  So you will need to choose a state and work with their society to go through the application process.  However, some states do not have active websites.  
  • One must provide all vital documents for the current 3 generations in your line (birth, marriage and death records).  They require the courthouse documents, not church records.  And if a vital record doesn't exist because a state didn't require them at that time, then they need something in writing from the government agency that the records did not exist at that time.  Also important to note is that they require these records for both husband and wife, even the spouse not in the line to the Mayflower.
  • Connecting the generations beyond the current 3 requires birth, marriage and death records; however this is where it gets tricky.  States didn't always require them earlier in the US, parents were rarely listed on these documents, and records were often destroyed in local courthouses.  One must truly be crafty to figure out how to properly establish kinship.
  • Census Records earlier than 1880 do not establish the relationship to the head of the household.  Thus, they rarely accept them as documentation.  
  • All written Wills and Probate records used in your documentation must include a typed translation.  This sounds easy but some of the older wills were written with such elaborate scripts that they are very hard to read.
  • All newspaper obituaries must include a typed translation.  Again, this sounds easy but some copies of newspaper obituaries are extremely blurry.  
  • All documents must include sources and any cover pages if using materials from books. 


The rewarding part came from the fact that all of my hard work over the years in tracing my lineage paid off in spades when I had about 95% of my application complete by the time I submitted my documents.  But that is most often very rare.  What was left to do was gather a few vital records since they would not accept church records as the main document to connect the dots.    My family left just enough snippets of clues to let me know there was a connection, and then gave me a trail to satisfy that connection.  It was just up to me to collect the necessary documents which included everything from Vital Records, Probates including Wills and Land Records, Newspaper Obituaries, Church Records, Census Records, Widows Pension Record, Cemetery Records, Cemetery Headstone Photos, and more.

At the end of the day, I didn't realize how much this membership would mean to me until I received an official acceptance.  It is an honorable distinction to know that my family had such strong and admirable ancestors that braved the cold seas to bring us life in this new land.  Just looking at the picture of the Mayflower ship below, I am not sure my stomach could have handled that journey.  I am forever grateful to my family roots.


5 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading about your experience. Congratulations! I am in the middle of submitting my application and documents, and like you, I feel I have almost everything I need. There are just a few loose ends to clean up. We will see if there are any surprises when my documents are reviewed. I can already tell I have a little more work ahead of me than I thought!

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    1. Elizabeth, Thanks for reading my blog. Good luck on your application.

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  2. Congratulations, Mayflower cousin! At our NH Society meetings Hopkins always wins the roll call. You must have a big family, or a lot of cousins in New Hampshire...

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    1. Heather, thanks for the comment !! Glad to hear that my relative wins each time. My line is combined because Stephen & Elizabeth's daughter Damaris married Francis' son Jacob Cooke. Funny how I could have cared less in High School History Class. If I had only known then what I know now. I guess it's never late to appreciate family.

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  3. Arkansas does have a society (officially April 8th 1954). I know they are working on a new web site too which they tell me will be released in the coming months.

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