February 6, 2019

While tracing her American Revolution lineage, Karen Kovarik discovered an ancestral cemetery in rural Pennsylvania.

Contributed While tracing her American Revolution lineage, Karen Kovarik discovered an ancestral cemetery in rural Pennsylvania.

FLORIDA KEYS — Daniel Tenney served in one of the U.S. Army’s 88 regiments during the American Revolution. He’s also the seventh generation grandfather of Karen Kovarik and that relationship qualifies her to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a women’s lineage-based group aimed at promoting patriotism, history and education.

Any woman with a relative who helped America gain its freedom, in any capacity, from Britain’s tyranny may be eligible to join. The relative didn’t necessarily have to be a man or serve the Continental Army.

“It could be as simple as they supported the revolution by boycotting English goods or sewed uniforms,” Kovarik said. “It was the women who tended the farms while the men were away. There’s lots of ways people supported our freedom.”

Kovarik has been a member of the Florida Keys Chapter since 2008 and serves as the vice-regent.

She said that linking ancestral heritage to the revolution helps preserve America’s history. The group helps prospective members link to their ancestors through the group’s ancestral database. While it’s available on the national website, the group encourages members cross reference their lineage on other ancestry websites.

There’s a journey that genealogy takes people on that compels them to explore themselves, said Kovarik.

To help guide DAR members and the community at large discover their heritage, DAR is hosting a complete genealogy seminar with Ancestry website expert Crista Cowan.

By the end of the workshop, most who attend will be able to trace their family tree back a few generations, according to Kovarik.

DAR initially hosted Cowan two years ago.

“It was amazing, everyone learned so much,” said local DAR Regent Marcella Reynolds. “Crista’s visit is to help people find their ancestors and see how they made lives for themselves.”

The surname database available on the Ancestry website is vast and Cowan provides hands-on teaching.

“She teaches all over the country, so to have her here in the Keys is really something,” Reynolds said. “Be prepared to find out, and with that, you may learn some family secrets too.”

A membership to Ancestry or DAR is not needed. Kovarik recommends that attendees know either maternal or paternal grandparents’ names before the seminar.

“It’s amazing to find out who you’re related to,” Kovarik said. Tracing her family tree has taken her all over the U.S., including a rural Pennsylvania plot cemetery.

The Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote patriotism, preserve American history and secure America’s future through better education for children. The Florida Keys chapter was founded in 1983 and promotes education through scholarships.

The local chapter will soon award scholarships to three Monroe County high school students based on essay entries to a DAR contest.

The Keys chapter meets the second and fourth Wednesday of every month at various locations in Marathon. For more information on joining, visit fssdar.net/FLKeys.

DAR’s Ancestry Genealogy seminar is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Matecumbe Methodist Church, 81831 Overseas Highway in Islamorada. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the cost is $40 per person, which includes the seminar and light fare.