Friday, January 21, 2011

Some Thoughts on Tracing your Military Ancestors

I just attended an Arizona Family History Expo class on "Tracing Your Ancestors Through Military Records," by Shirley Gage Hodges.  I am always amazed of how much I still don't know about this subject.  For instance:

1.  You have more success if you know your history.  Using the time period that your ancestor lived (i.e. 1853-1901) and knowing your history, will increase your success in finding military records on your ancestor.  Here's the list of wars to help you get started: 

1607-1774 Colonial Wars
1754-1763 French & Indian War
1775-1881 Revolutionary & Frontier Wars
1812          War of 1812
1831          Sac and Fox War
1832          Black Hawk War
1846-1848 Mexican-American War
1861-1865 Civil War
1898-1901 Spanish-American War
1899-1902 Philippine Insurrection
1914-1918 World War I
1941-1945 World War II
1950-1953 Korean War
1961-1975 Vietnam War

2.  Laws passed:

     A.  In 1818, a law was passed that you had to be in "want" or "need" in order to get a war pension.  Obviously not as many applications or paperwork may exist.

     B.  In 1828, the law was changed to allow any soldier who served could now apply for a pension.  You can imagine how many veterans applied after this new law was passed.

     C.  In 1836, widows were now allowed to apply for the pensions of their deceased husband/soldier.  (These are excellent records, as the women had to provide proof of relationship to the solder.  Some even tore out pages of their family Bible and submitted the page as proof of relation.)

3.  Civil War soldiers.  If your ancestor was a Confederate, he had to apply to his state for his pension, not the U.S. Government.  (The U.S. Government was not about to give a pension to someone who fought against it in the Civil War.)  Check your State resources for your Civil War soldier.

This is just a snippet of some of the things I learned today.  More to come from the Arizona Family History Expo!


1 comment:

  1. Appreciate the info on the laws concerning pensions etc. Family History Expos are great and I look forward to one of these military classes.



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