Saturday, April 19, 2014

SLCC Genealogy Course: Post #27 - Military Records

This week for the Salt Lake Community College Genealogy Course we learned about Military Records.  We were to locate all our ancestors that served in the various wars in the United States. We needed to create a Research Log on our searches and the results. Then write a report on our experience.

Let me just tell you I didn't search all my ancestors. My family has been in the United States since before it was the United States and we have a long history of military service. I did identify 10 generations of ancestors that would have served in various wars. I only focused on searching in the Civil War records. I am sharing with you the report I handed in. Plus some additional screen shots.

Summary of Military Records Research

Inside Evernote I had a list of different US Wars and the time frames they happened. The lesson taught us males between the ages of 14 to 45 served during those wars. To determine the birth year range I took the year the war began and calculated when a 45 yr old male would have been born. Then I took the year the war ended and calculated when a 14 yr old boy would have been born. This then gave me the range for births for people serving during each war.

To determine which ancestors may have served during a war, I first created a group of 10 generations of direct line ancestors. I then removed all the females. This left me with just my direct male ancestors. I had one line that was Swedish so I removed all the ancestors going back from the immigrant ancestor. RootsMagic’s Mark Group and Unmark Group filters made this easy to do. I then named this Group – Military.

Now that I had the group of individuals needed, I wanted to focus on printing out a list. I decide that a Custom Report would work best. I added the fields Name – Surname, Prefix Given Suffix, Record No., Birth date, Death date, Note – header only, so no text would appear in the column. Then I ran the Custom Report, including only the people in the Military Group I created earlier. I saved this report as an RTF file.

The RTF file then allowed me to open this report inside of Microsoft Word. I went through each ancestor and determined based on his birth and death which wars he potentially could have served. In the blank column under notes, I added the list of wars for them.

(Suggest adding a second row for the birth and death place.)

I wanted my list by wars and who served during them so I created a Research Log “War: Ancestors Military Service” and added each war as a Research Item. I noted the time period for the war and the birth ranges for people serving during it. Then under the results, I listed each of my ancestors and their information. I realized a little late that I should have generated the custom report with the places for the ancestors so I had to do a little backtracking to include that information. That information is important when trying to figure out where the person may have enlisted. Mine all came from the same general area of New York so it was not hard to go back and add that information.

I selected the Civil War as my area of focus. I created a new Research Log called “War: Civil War Ancestors” The reason I put “War:” in front of my Research Log names is so the wars would all sort together in the Research Log list. I then added a Research Item for each of my ancestors. I focused on Fold3 because it was free this month. I would note my findings as I went along.

(I use the Ref# to control how I want Research items to sort)

I wasn’t until I hit my 2nd great-grandfather Anthony or Andrew A Weatherwax that I hit pay dirt. I have already described on previous assignments being unsure if Anthony was really Andrew. I had documents and family records saying both. From Andrew’s tombstone I knew he served during the Civil War, Company A 77 Reg, U.S. Vol.. I could not find a tombstone for an Anthony Weatherwax. The moment I found Andrew’s name in the records, I just burst into tears. How could I not be related to him, when I had such an emotional response toward seeing his name? A good genealogist will listen to what their gut is telling them, but continue to look for proof, so that is what I did. I realized after a while that all the records called him Andrew A. Weatherwax. Is it possible that the A stood for Anthony? There are a lot of different Andrew or Andreas Weatherwax’s in the area he came from, so maybe he used his middle name to not be confused? But, if he was going to do that why didn’t he enlist as Anthony instead of using it later? Still lots of questions.

Then I uncovered on various Muster Rolls and Pension records that he was a deserter. He enlisted at the age of 45 on 21 Aug 1862, for 39 months and mustered in 8 Oct 1862. He deserted 15 Jul 1863 and was apprehended with his brother Joseph on 30 Oct 1863. He was court martialed and sentenced to serve 3 months and 15 days after his enlistment term expired, without pay. It wasn’t until I read the regiment history that I put together a possible motive for desertion, he had just fought at Gettysburg. He was a faithful soldier after his desertion. On 6 May 1864 he was wounded in the Wilderness Campaign. Then on 19 Sep 1864 he was wounded at Winchester, VA. Afterwards he and his brother were transferred to Company E. At the end of the war its noted he was hospitalized in Washington, D.C. since 15 May 1865. He was served orders to muster out on 14 Jun 1865. I have three military pension filing dates for him, 3 Sep 1866, 3 Apr 1883, 2 Mar 1885 all listing him as an invalid. The last pension record is stamped DEAD and the date 7 Mar 1899.

It was amazing to me how his desertion is written over and over again on the records. Talk about a mistake following you. I haven’t looked at all the census records but the earliest I could find an Anthony Weatherwax was 1870. Before that he disappears and I see Andrew. Now I wonder if he started to use Anthony after the Civil War so his past did not follow him so closely.

What I really, really need to do now is order his military records. If can connect him positively as the father of John Henry Weatherwax, Sr and with a wife Catherine Hewitt then he is my Antony after all.

This has been a great assignment.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

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