I recently posted about interesting federal record groups at the National Archives that most of us have never heard of, but are pretty awesome. I thought you would like to learn about some of them, so here is Part 2 of Record Groups to Rock Your Socks. Refer to the original post for a step-by-step guide to finding these and other great records.
Did you have a veteran ancestor who was a resident of an Armed Forces Retirement Home? Today’s gem is “Records of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, 1803-1943.” Notice the link to search the OPA (Online Public Access) for entries from this record group.
The NARA website gives this summary of the retirement home history: “Established as the Military Asylum, Washington, DC, by an act of March 3, 1851 (9 Stat. 595), with branches (1851-58) in New Orleans, LA, and East Pascagoula (Greenwood’s Island), MS, and at Western Military Asylum, Harrodsburg, KY.”
Look at the cool things you can find for both inmates (residents) and employees:
Whenever you find a record group at the National Archives you would like to access, check to see if they have created a finding aid, such as this one:
To obtain copies or view records, use this contact information:
Well there you go! There are plenty more to explore, so stay tuned…and Happy Trails!
Today I received an email with content updates for Fold3.com, a terrific website I have a subscription to. I have had some success using Fold 3 in my research over the years (it was formerly known as Footnote), and wanted to share this update with you. Although it is a subscription site, some of their content is free. If you want to use the subscription content you can get a trial subscription, or you can visit your local LDS Family History Center which has free access to the site. Fold 3 is unique in that its content is obtained through a partnership with the National Archives, so the digital collections are images of original sources, much of it with primary content.
I include here the email I received from Fold 3 regarding the Fold3 Photographic Collections, and hope it is okay that I copied it in its entirety because I thought it was so informative. I don’t think they will mind me giving them a plug:
“Fold3 is known for its unique collections of military records and historical documents, yet there are a vast number of photographs on the site as well. They are filed within more than a dozen photographic collections, as well as within some of the document collections. The most recent updates to digitized photographs include those from the Civil War and others from within the WWII Navy Muster Rolls.
If you’re a fan of the WWII Navy Muster Rolls—a new title featured in last month’s content update email and Fold3 Blog post—you may have noticed photographs of ships and personnel distributed within these record images, as well. The photo categories are not included with every ship, so the easiest way to locate them is to type the word “photos” in the search box on the WWII Navy Muster Rolls title page and view the resulting matches. Using the filmstrip at the bottom of the Fold3 viewer, you can browse to see the wide range of offerings for each ship. Examples include a view of the USS Coral Sea underway in 1986, Doolittle raiders aboard the USS Hornet, and Rear Admiral Moffett on the USS Langley.
These photographs are rich in historical content and complement the document images on Fold3. Using them in tandem provides an enhanced perspective of U.S. military history.”
[Letter from Pvt. Allen Lee Millard (“Nig”) Gooch to his family in Duncan, Arizona, written 18 May 1918 at Funston, Kansas. Transcribed by Dayna Gooch Jacobs. Slashes indicate page breaks. Original spelling and punctuation.]
May 18, 1918
Troop A 314th M.P.
Dear Mother and All,
Well as I have changed/ my address had better write/ you again. Have been/ looking for a letter from/ you for the past week/ have only got one/ since I have been gone/ I was transferred Friday/ to the Military Police/ [p2] troops and I think I will/ like it fine consider/ myself lucky for every/ one in the 34th Co./ went to the infantry/ but me. The M.P./ are the army Police/ they guard camp, street/ car lines and towns/ for twenty miles/ around just like/ police in a city/ and one good thing/ [p3] if we are on guard/ we are boss. Can throw/ a captian in the guard/ house if we see fit/ or any other man except [President] Wilson. When/ we drill we are mounted/ I will get a horse tomorrow/ I think. When on guard/ we cary a pistol and/ a club and a rifle/ when mounted. In France/ we will guard the/ [p4] soldiers camps and/ prisoners, also do/ scouting. We are here/ in Funston in nice/ barrick’s it is far/ more comfortable than/ those tents. They all/ seam to think we/ will leave here soon./ But have no idea/ where we will go./ I have been having/ a time with my ankles/ they gave away about/ [page 5 missing]
[page 6]… for miles with/ soldiers and weman/ as today is visitors/ you friends can/ come and eat dinner/ with you and go/ most any where/ if the M.P.s will let you pass./
I saw so many/ mothers wives and, sweethearts walking/ [p7] around with tears/ in their eyes that/ I had to come back/ to the barrack. I thought/ of many things that/ there is no use to/ mention.
All of the boys in this/ troop seem to be/ content and are very/ good natured. There/ is several here from/ New Mexico that/ [p8] say they know me/ but I don’t remember/ them. There is one/ here that I know/ well from Hachita/ he is a orderly/ sergeant in this troop/ and I am glad of it/ he said any time I/ wanted a twenty four/ hour pass to let him/ know. Well I written/ such long letter to/ doll [his girlfriend] that I am tired./ [p8] [sic] Will close and write/ more latter. As I know/ theres a letter from you/ at detention camp. They/ will transfer it soon/ I guess. Tell the girls/ to write offen and/ don’t worry about me.
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.
In honor of Independence Day this post features a snippet from the Revolutionary War pension file for my 4th great-grandfather, William Tong. He was born 9 Aug 1756 at Piscataway, Prince Georges County, Maryland and died at age 93 at Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, Illinois.
Military pension files, as mentioned previously in this blog, are of immeasurable value for their content. Note the answers William gives the interviewer:
Here he gives a rundown of the battles he participated in when his company of minute men joined the army of General George Washington at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown:
Worldcat is the catalog for more than 10,000 public and university libraries worldwide, and items you find can be ordered through Inter-library loan to your local public library. I was able to order a copy of his autobiography through my small-town library.