Thursday, November 3, 2011
Old Dogs and New Genealogy Clues
We organize data and it becomes information. We interpret and integrate that information and it becomes knowledge. When knowledge of one topic merges with the knowledge of another, we get the spark called innovation.
I have been researching genealogy for over 25 years and the world of genealogy keeps changing. I plan to keep changing along with it and learn as many new tricks as I can.
I haven’t had the need to do much Civil War research in the past but I decided to take advantage of a workshop presented by the National Archives in Waltham. The session was titled Torn in Two: Researching Civil War Records at the National Archives. I had been to the Archives dozens of times in search of Naturalization records. This was an opportunity to find out what else they offered.
The most important and most disappointing information that I learned was that Waltham didn’t have any of the Service or Pension records. Everything was in Washington DC. This drawback was offset by the fact that Waltham does have thousands of other Civil War records and letters.
The presentation focused on the hidden treasure behind the Service and Pension records. Once you have a Pension application number or the regiment that your ancestor served in you can send away for the entire file. This entire file could be dozens of records including letters and genealogical information.
As soon as the workshop was over, I took advantage of the newfound knowledge and headed for the research room. The Archive’s Service records are indexed by Ancestry.com and the Pension records are indexed by Fold3.com. If you have access to these sites then you can get started at home, if not well the National Archives gives you access for free.
I started with some research for a friend. A few minutes later, I had the Massachusetts regiment that her ancestor served in and the Pension index record with two application numbers, one for him and one for his wife after he died. Using the application numbers my friend will be able to send away for a variety military files the government has collected.
I was a bit luckier.
My 3rd great grand uncle, George Albig, was born in Germany and immigrated to the US around 1850. Thirteen years later, he fought for the Union and died at the Battle of Ringgold Gap in Georgia. His mother, Margaretha (Hess) Albig, (my 4th g-grandmother) filed for George’s pension. Fold3 had 20 pages digitized from this pension application. Many of these pages were sworn affidavits from friends and neighbors saying that Margaretha was who she said she was.
One document was genealogy gold. It had the birth information for my 4th g-grandfather, Johann Georg Albig, in 1796 in Endsee, Germany and the birth of Anna Margaretha Hessin in 1800 in Hartershofen, Germany. There were the godparent’s names and the parishes where the baptisms took place also. I now know that they were married in 1820 and that there is a 14-year gap between that marriage and the birth of my 3rd g-grandmother, who I thought was the first born, which creates a few questions.
Take every opportunity to learn something new, every day if possible. This old dog learned a new trick and the rewards were records that confirmed my research and opened up new avenues into this line of German ancestry.