Yes, today is Groundhog Day, but did you know it is also the 158th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo? Of course you did! It is just more fun to have a Groundhog Day party. I understand.
Having had an ancestor who was wounded in the Mexican War (Thomas Gooch had his finger shot off in the battle of Buena Vista according to his pension record), I am particularly interested in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war and enlarged the western frontier of the United states. The Library of Congress website has an excellent guide to the treaty, which gave us the land which became Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona and New Mexico, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. One little treaty is all that came between me and Mexican citizenship, as a matter of fact, having had ancestors who settled in 6 out of 8 of those states–some as early as 1847–the year before the treaty was signed.
Want to find your ancestor in military records? Here is an efficient way to identify all military records on FamilySearch, and to narrow your search by collection. It is then easy to search within a single collection.
On the FamilySearch home screen click “Search” and then “Records” in the dropdown menu.
Military records are a valuable source of genealogical information—one of the best! Military service records, bounty land files, and pension files are some of the more commonly used in this record group, but don’t stop there. Draft cards, discharge papers, prisoner of war records, veteran cemeteries, soldier homes, and veteran/lineage societies can be rich resources for the researcher.
Do you know if your ancestor served in the military? The FamilySearch Wiki provides an Ages of Servicemen table to help determine this. From this table I created the Table of Wars – Ages of Servicemen downloadable cheatsheet with a timeline of wars servicemen might have been involved with, according to their birth dates at the time of the conflict. This is a table for wars the United States was a part of, but since most of these wars involved foreign countries, it can be a helpful tool for your foreign-born ancestors, as well.
We tend to think of wartime service for veterans, but don’t forget that men and women served in peacetime, too. Use this cheatsheet to determine if your ancestor might have been part of a military conflict, and then check the FamilySearch Wiki for search strategies specific to each war.
Today marks the 165th anniversary of the Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War. Thomas Gooch’s Mexican War pension file reveals he fought in the Battle of Buena Vista. His pension application, dated 6 Feb 1882, states that he “was a corporal in…the 1st Regiment of Arkansas Volunteers in the War of 1846…That while in the service aforesaid…near a place called Saltillo Republic of Mexico, on the 23rd of February 1847, from hardships and exposure contracted chronic diarrhea. Also at Battle of Buena Vista in a charge made by lancers, suffered loss of finger of left hand. Said disabilities still continue and greatly disable him for manual labor, he now asks a pension.”
An account of the Battle of Buena Vista is found at:
Thomas Gooch (widow Verlinda), WC #5820; Mexican War Pension Files; National Archives and Records Administration; Documents dated 1882-1883. Widow’s documents dated 1888. Copy of original file in possession of Dayna Jacobs.
These are abstracts and extracts of key documents in the file:
On 1 July 1846 he enrolled in Co. G Mounted Regiment, Arkansas Volunteers (Capt. Edward Hunter’s Co., Colonel Yell’s Regiment) at Pariclifta, Sevier Co, AR. They rendevouzed at Washington, Hempstead Co, AR and were mustered into service for the Mexican War. Thomas was 3rd Corporal, while John Hall was 4th Corporal, and A.L. McAfee was first Lt. He says he incurred chronic diarrhea on 23 Feb 1847. Records show that his company was in action at Buena Vista on this date. He also says he lost a finger on his left hand in a charge made by lancers at the battle of Buena Vista. Jan/Feb rollcall records show him absent sick at Saltillo from 9 Feb 1847. He says he was in the hospital about 6 weeks under the care of an Army surgeon. On 27 May he was discharged from Saltillo and reenlisted as a private in Capt. Gaston Meare’s Co. of the Ark Mounted Vols. MOR dated 24 Jun 1848 reports him as deserted at Buena Vista 22 Jan 1848.
Since leaving the service he resided mostly in Llano Co and was a stock raiser.
6 Feb 1882… affidavit signed by A. V. Chism and David Fowler (mark). Witnesses R. A. McInnis and J.S. Atchison.
7 May 1883…affidavit signed by W.M. Owen, M.D. attesting to Thomas’ disability, and saying he treated him in 1850. His P.O. address is Round Rock, Williamson Co, TX.
9 May 1883…affidavit signed by W.A. Blackburn of Burnet, Burnet Co, TX, who was a lawyer and judge in the Llano area, and knew Thomas very well. He states, “I know of no man whose character for truth, honesty and integrity, and love of law and order, and peace in a community, is any better.”
9 May 1883…affidavit signed by W.W. Brooks, personal friend of Thomas. Brooks “resided in the county of Burnet and Sate of Texas and that Burnet in said county and state was his post office address from January 1st 1861 to May 9th 1865 and that he was personally acqainted with Thomas Gooch during all of that period and before and since, and knew him to be an outspoken Union man, and that he did not serve in the Confederate army, did not hold office under, pay taxes to willingly, or in any other manner aid or abetted the Confederate Gov….and that he has good reasons to believe that Thomas Gooch did not vote for secession for the reason that he knows that Thomas Gooch was very bitter against secession and very outspoken against the Confederacy, and that his life was in great danger on account of his Union principles during the above mentioned period, and that he was himself a Union man and loyal to the United States…”
9 May 1883…affidavit signed by G. McFarland… similar to Brooks’ statement.
11 May 1883…affidavit signed by Thomas Gooch says he has been farming on a small scale with the assistance of his children, and working some at the gunsmith trade.
23 May 1883…Court, Llano County. State of Texas, County of Llano: “…Personally appeared before the undersigned authority, Thomas Gooch, who being duly sworn upon his oath, declares and says that he was born on the 30th day of August A.D. 1826 in the town of Lexington, County of Fayette (sic), State of Missouri…” signed E.R. Beeson, County Clerk
7 Nov 1888…Indian Territory, County of Chickasaw Nation: “…On this 7th day of November 1888, personally appeared before me, a U.S. Commissioner for the West Dist. of Ark, Mrs. Verlinda Gooch, a resident of Paul’s Valley, in the county of Chickasaw Nation, Indian Ty., who, being by me first duly sworn according to law, deposes and says: I am the widow of Thomas Gooch…that I was married under my name of Verlinda Jennings to my said husband by Parson Miller, on or about the 7th day of March 1851 at Georgetown, WIlliamson Co., in the state of Texas, and lived with my said husband from the date of my said marriage until the day of his death, to wit, the 2nd day of March, 1885, when my said husband died at Llano Co., in the state of Texas, and I have not since married…” signed Verlinder Gooch, witnesses Martin V. Shults, and William P. Croft
30 Nov 1898 “…Verlinda Gooch, who was a pensioner…under certificate No. 5820.. has been dropped because of her death… Died 5 Nov, 1898”