Why Revolutionary War Records Are Important (and other significant matters)

The BYU-Idaho Conference is over. In between my five presentations, I attended sessions I felt would help me: Larry Killian spoke to Family History Consultants who provide local instruction on how to get started in genealogy. He welcomed a special guest from Salt Lake City, Lance McIntosh. McIntosh is in charge of genealogy and family history help worldwide for the Family History Library. He has created 5 regions with numerous districts serving in each region to provide training and instruction for local Family History Consultants. He also made a plea for LDS Church Service missionaries who can answer email and telephone questions on a toll-free line.

Each missionary is asked to give eight hours a week, at any time during the 24-hour day they can fill this assignment. What an exciting program–a 24-hour answer hot-line and email answers within 2 hours–anywhere in the world and in whatever language you speak and write!

I also attended classes on photograph restoration, Heraldry and the House of Israel, and German genealogical research (where the speaker focused on resources easily available online). My day was very worthwhile. Including the discovery that of all the persons who attended my five sessions, fewer than 20 had heard me speak before!

Try this website: http://www.genealogy.net where the German resources, including Dorfsippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuecher (local heritage books online), can be translated into English at a click of the mouse.

Match military evidence to other genealogy sources for best evidence:

More than 425,000 males aged 16-60 (some even younger who lied about their age), and some women served in the Revolutionary War (1774-1783). Over 85,000 drew pensions from the Federal Government. This means they survived the War long enough to file an application after the first full pension act was passed in 1832.

1. Personal statement of migration–85% of Revolutionary War soldiers died in a different place than born. Place of birth, residences before service and up to the payment of pension including length of residence, place of marriage, place of death.

Match with census records, biographical sketches, family Bible dates.

2. Important source of birth, marriage, and death dates before official vital records are kept. Ages at dated events. One of the best sources to trace ladies: maiden surnames, names and ages of children, proof of marriage, other marriages and surnames, family origins.

Match with marriage records, cemetery tombstones, family Bible records, personal diaries, biographical sketches, indigent payment lists, rosters of military dependents.

3. Interview your ancestors–1st-person narratives and stories in affidavits, applications, and personal statements. Often in the handwriting of the ancestor: “…even the color of his eyes.”

Match with portraits, family traditions, biographical sketches, personal memoirs, letters written to family members, diaries, and journals.

4. May include 2-5 generations of pedigree ancestors–with statements of personal knowledge of relationships.

Match with compiled genealogies and pedigrees. Also compare with genealogies outlined in family histories, local heritage books, county and local histories.

5. Sworn affidavits by people who personally knew your ancestor. This is a “mini-census” approach: “I knew him for more than 20 years.”

Match with tax rolls, inhabitant lists, voter’s registration, local census enumerations, lists of first settlers and land grant lists.

6. Fill in gaps when government records do not survive. The majority of military records are not kept in the courthouse. If the courthouse burns, these records do not burn with it.

Match with DAR transcripts of local records–wills or deeds or court records, conscript lists, military census listings, obituaries (“Another Revolutionary Soldier Gone,”), pay and muster rolls, official casualty lists. DAR transcripts are available for every state.
Be careful using just the printed Revolutionary War Pensions transcripts easily available in most genealogy libraries. While they are good locator sources and enable you to determine which original cases to check, they may not reference and index all of the papers filed in each case. The printed stuff is based on M805–Selected Records. This microfilm program filmed 10 documents selected from the case file. Most of them came from the first dozen or so documents in the file. M804–non-Selected Records–includes all the papers in the case file. I recommend that you read all of the documents on microfilm before copying those needed for your genealogy. Some of the best documents are at the end of the case file.
Study Source and Reference Bibliography:

Dagner, Deidre Burridge, J. Chan Edmondson, and John V. Sobieski. Revolutionary War Period Bible, Family, and Marriage Records Gleaned from Pension Applications. 23 vols. Aaron to Humphrey. Available from Dagner, 462 Shannon Glen Drive, Louisa VA 23093. Indexed from M805. Every name index for each volume is online at http://www.revwar.patriotpublishers.com

Dorman, John Frederick. Virginia Revolutionary Pension Applications. 51 Vols: Aaron to Harding. Transcribing and indexing only those soldiers who served from Virginia. Washington DC: J. F. Dorman 1958–.

Gandrud, Pauline Myra Jones, Bobbie Jones McLane, and Desmond Walls Allen. Alabama Soldiers. 22 vols. A-O. Vol. 22 indexes vols 1-21. Available at http://www.arkansasresearch.com

Hatcher, Patricia Law. “Revolutionary War Pension Files–A Fresh Look at the Resources Available,” Genealogy Bulletin #27 (May-June 1995): 1-9. Valuable article comparing M804 (non-Selected Records–the whole file) and M805 (Selected Records).

White, Virgil D. Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files. 4 vols. Available from White, 209 Greeson Hollow Road, P.O. Box 539, Waynesboro TN 38485. Indexed from M805.

See also, Genealogy News Sheet, 17 November 2006.

Just a word on this Genealogy News Sheet, now in its 8th month of online publication. When I decided to write each week (now and soon daily), I did not plan to focus on evidence the way these postings have turned out. Have you noticed the emphasis on multiple streams of evidence? My discussion of sources is slanted to focus on the evidence that they contain. And the precision of my coverage includes where to find indexes and originals so that you can search the source for the evidence that applies to your ancestors.

We have just loaded an article called “Close to Home.” This is the subject of my presentation at the Logan Genealogy and Family History Jamboree, 24 March 2007 at Utah State University, Eccles Conference Center. In coming months, I will add other Close to Home segments for other parts of the country. Because I recommend that you check out the resources close to your home–what archives and libraries are nearby so you can access them easily and within the time you have to devote to your genealogy searches. The less distance you have to travel, the more time you have to search.

Will you share your favorite library or archive with our subscribers? I can include your favorities in future News Sheets and in my articles as they are posted. The whole face of genealogy access has changed since 9/11 and I’d like to share your favorites with others. Send me an email. Just click–Contact me–on my home page.
Your favorite genealogy expert, Arlene Eakle

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3 Responses to Why Revolutionary War Records Are Important (and other significant matters)

  1. mveek says:

    would you please double check the url for http://www.revwar.patriotpublications.com? It does not seem to be working – when I load it into my browser I receive a “can’t find the server” message.

  2. arlene says:

    Thanks for letting me know. I goofed. The website is
    http://www.revwar.patriotpublishers.com. I have corrected the post to give the right URL. Arlene

  3. maudette says:

    Hello Arlene

    I just read your blog Feb. 2007 on the holbrooks/Collier….My grandfather was Marion Amburgey, married to Mary Holbrook. Her father was listed as Claric Holbrook, married to Mary Collier. I think his name was Clark not Claric, do you find anyone in the holbrook information as Claric.

    I do not have the book Holbrook on the Clinch, but I do have william Lawson a Scotish rebel…

    I would love to chat with you about the Holbrooks.

    Thank you for your time

    Mary Anne

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