Tales of Discovery – 2016

 

  • Reading 27 pages of statements and affidavits in in a special pension inquiry was like hearing family members tell the stories in their own words. And the documents gave critical information that the family had not found before.
  • Looking at the original muster roll uncovered an error in the Soldiers and Sailors database. This helped resolve exactly where a formerly enslaved sailor enlisted.
  • Opening what I expected was a simple “cash sale” land record, I discovered it was a “pre-emption” claim with evidence of occupation, improvements made, of widowhood, and remarriage. Affidavits from neighbors testified to the family’s habits, work ethic, and good character. This really helped fill in details about this family and narrowed the time frame for several family events.
  • For 20 years I have been attempting to verify a family tradition that an ancestor fought in the War of 1812. After spending 8 hours combing through the Miscellaneous 1812 Pension files, I not only found him but wonderful letters proving his identity and linking him and his wife to their travels from Virginia to Ohio to Illinois where he died in 1823.
  • My G-Grandfather’s pension file was missing when I searched for it 20 years ago. But due to extra efforts of NARA staff during Gen-Fed, this time I got the file and also an understanding of why I didn’t get it before now. It documented two marriages that I had struggled to verify.
  • Seeing examples of photographs at Archives II made me think of my uncles and other family members who had served in WWII and other wars. I found images of one uncle’s ship being bombed, and they add so much to the stories he had told of that event.
  • My grandfather’s uncle was killed at Cold Harbor in 1864. I don’t know if he even knew his uncle was in the Civil War–my mother didn’t know it. I held his service record in my hand!
  • Within minutes of discussing a DC probate problem with an archivist, I had the bond in my hands that dated the case and revealed the decedent’s last residence.
  • I found a hand-written letter from my 2nd great-grandmother in her first husband’s pension file. Now I can compare that to a hand-written family group sheet that was passed down in the family.
  • A death record provided by the widow in a homestead file confirmed two different men are combined in most Ancestry family trees.
  • I had always known that my grandfather had quit school in 8th grade to support his family but did not realize the long years of health problems his father had and the struggle his mother had after he died. A sadder story than I realized.
  • And, for a complete story, visit Linda Hall Little’s blog post on the sinking of the Ticonderoga.