So I was listening to the January podcast from Family Tree Magazine on a recent roadtrip, and was interested to hear that Google Books has digitized the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (published since 1847),
Cool! These are both genealogical journals that could help you once you follow your granny’s trail back in time, before she moved out west. There are probably other journals of interest to you in your research that have been digitized, especially if they are out of copyright. This includes publication before 1923.
By the way, Family Tree Magazine website has a lot of free resources, even if you don’t have a subscription to their magazine. The podcasts are one of them. I always learn something new when I listen to them, and it’s a good use of time when I in the car, gardening, or working around the house.
And if you haven’t heard about Internet Archive, you should check them out, too, as they have over 3 million digitized books and might have that journal you are seeking.
Military records are a key record group for genealogists, and pension records in particular can be a rich source of personal information about an individual. The 1883 Pension Roll is a handy index to some of these records. If you have a an ancestor who might have served in the Civil War (Union side only), various Indian Wars, or the War of 1812 (of course, he’d be at least 90 years old by 1883!) you will want to check out this pension roll.
It is available on the subscription site Ancestry.com, but you can find the free ebook online at Google Books. Each volume covers different states. Western States researchers will want to see Volume 4:
Vol 1 Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, District of Columbia
Vol 4 Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada, Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Dakota Territory (North and South Dakota), New Mexico Territory, Montana Territory, Washington Territory, Idaho Territory, Utah Territory, Arizona Territory, Alaska Territory, Wyoming Territory
Vol 5 Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and foreign countries
Check out the “cause for which pensioned” column – yikes! “G.S.W.” means “gunshot wound.” Here is a list of other abbreviations posted by the Illinois GenWeb project:
The 1883 Pension Roll lists anyone on the U.S. military pension roll as of 1 Jan 1883, including soldiers, their widows, or parents – whoever was receiving a pension check. It gives a certificate number, pensioner’s name, post office address, cause for which pensioned, monthly check amount, and the date of the original allowance.
Here are your ordering options on the NARA website:
1. Compiled Military Service File (NATF 86): $25.00
2. Federal Military Pension Application – Civil War and Later Complete File (NATF 85A): $75.00
3. Federal Military Pension Application – Pre-Civil War Complete File (NATF 85A): $50.00
4. Federal Military Pension Applications – Pension Documents Packet (NATF 85B): $25.00
5. Military Bounty-Land Warrant Application File (NATF 85C): $25.00
If you are seeking a Civil War pension packet you must choose between #2 and #4. #2 will get you a copy of the entire packet, which can be upwards of 30 pages. It is expensive at $75.00, but cheaper than a trip to Washington, D.C.! #4 will get you 8 documents from that same packet, chosen by the clerk at NARA. They will choose 8 that have genealogical information. If you are on a budget, this will save you some money. If you decide you would like the complete file later, however, you will still have to pay the full $75.00. I know…rip-off!…but still cheaper than that plane ticket.
If you merely want a Compiled Military Service File choose #1. These are valuable, too, but I would go for the pension file first, because there is usually more genealogical information in a pension file.
If you are seeking a pension packet from an earlier war choose #3 or #4, depending on what size file you want.
I ran across a 1900 U.S. Census record for my husband’s ancestor, Fergus Coalter, living in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah at the time, and several entries caught my eye because I knew they would lead me to other sources. That’s the great thing about a census record – one thing leads to another:
Year of immigration (1874), years in the U.S. (26), citizenship (“Na” or naturalized), occupation (Music Dealer), education (can read, write, and speak English), and home ownership (“O” owns a home, “F” free of mortgage).
These are all things worth following up on, and I accessed a number of sources you may not know exist. Of course the easiest thing to try first is a Google search, and this got me started on the thing I was most curious about initially – no, not the immigration/citizenship columns – but “Music Dealer.” That is something you don’t often see on a census record.
A search for “Fergus Coalter music” led me to the website for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir historical roster. If you access the MTC website, there does not appear to be a link for the roster page, so I would have never found this entry for “Fergus Coulter” without Google:
So Fergus Coulter/Coalter sang Bass with the MTC for 17 years!
Now that I knew about the Fergus Coalter Music Company, I wanted to check city directories for Salt Lake City, which list addresses for businesses and individuals much like a phone book would in later years, plus sometimes some extra helpful facts. UTGenweb has a list of SLC directories with links to online images and/or Family History Library microfilm call numbers. Additionally, www.uscitydirectories.com lists directories by year, and some libraries where they can be found.
The 1897 Polk directory showed “Daynes and Coalter” under Fergus Coalter’s name and a residential address of 749 2nd East:
State Genweb projects, hosted by Rootsweb, are excellent sources for free online images and databases posted by volunteers.
Other online city directories revealed Fergus Coalter had also been in business as Coalter and Snelgrove, Daynes and Coalter, and Fergus Coalter Music Co. His death record showed him working as a clerk at Beesley Music Co. at age 71. I can do a more thorough search of directories at the Utah Research Center and Family History Library when I am there.
Newspapers can be an excellent source when the subject was a business owner, because of all the ads they placed. Here are a few unusual publications:
This is from the Young Woman’s Journal, Feb 1902, v 13, p 344. Here is an excerpt from something titled, “Mormon Magazine Miscellany” with the heading, “The Leading Industries of the West,” p 66, also on Google Books. It is a fascinating peek inside the music store, and we also learn that Fergus’ partner was the Tabernacle organist:
Finally, another unique source is a file from the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination form for the Capitol Hill Historic District of Salt Lake City, submitted by the Utah State Historical Society, has been digitized and is available online. It provides photos and descriptions of buildings in that district, including the Fergus Coalter home at 314 Center St., constructed abt 1880:
What is remarkable about this source is the personal info it provides and additional documentation that leads to additional sources, including plat maps Sanborn insurance maps, directories, newspapers, and biographical sources:
There is one last resource I want to mention here, because I know the “immigration” and “citizenship” columns on the census must have made you curious, too. Did you know about the Mormon Migration website at BYU? They are abstracting records for 19th and 20th century LDS immigrants, including first-person accounts of voyages. This is different than the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database which documents pioneer wagon companies. For starters, the Pioneer Overland Travel database ends at 1868—the official end of the “pioneer” era—and only covers the immigrants’ journey after they arrived in the United States. The Mormon Migration site is a ships passenger list database that extends beyond 1868 and documents the journey from an immigrant’s homeland. The first-person accounts can describe the entire journey by ship and wagon.
Here is the entry for Fergus Coulter:
A click on his name will bring up a link to first-person accounts by other passengers and also a list of other passengers.
Of course, these records are just the beginning – there are so many more record groups that come to mind: church, vital records, probate, cemetery, county history, naturalization, etc., but hopefully you now know about a few unique records for the Salt Lake City area and can start down your own trail. So Happy Trails!