Saturday, July 29, 2017

It Never Hurts to Go Looking: Civil War Records

"Binoculars"; source Pixabay

Last week I finally updated to Family Tree Maker 2017. The process went smoothly, and I was anxious to try out some of its new features. I also started reading with renewed interest Russ Worthington's blog posts on FTM2017, especially his post on Color Coding and Civil War Soldiers. This post inspired me to follow his steps in a search for Civil War records for my Second Great Grandfathers. Here is how my search went.

Although past versions of Family Tree Maker had the ability to filter the index of persons in a tree, I had not found it to be particularly helpful. I just seemed to generate a long list of names for a specific time period. Now, with the color coding of my ancestral lines, after using the filters Russ had suggested, I still had a long list of names of possible Civil War soldiers, but I also had the color coding dots to help me quickly locate just those direct ancestors who might have military records for the Civil War.

I quickly had a short list of eight names, four for whom I had already located Civil War records from a variety of resources and four for whom I had no military information. Interestingly, two were from Georgia, likely Confederate soldiers or sympathizers; the other two were from Pennsylvania, most likely with information to be found in Union records. Because of  ancestors from just two states, I ended up searching for the two individuals from a state in each state database or source rather than searching through a variety of records for just one person at a time.

As I searched, I noted my negative research in the Notes section of the Person Workspace for that ancestor. Below are the notes of my search for my 2nd Great Grandfather William Wallace Andrews of Crawford County, Pennsylvania. My sources and results are indicated with blue. This has become my standard format for a simple research log since particapating in the Genealogy Do-Over several years ago. If I later find other Ancestry databases, I will add it to the Ancestry list in the Notes. If I come across a totally different source, I just add " // " after fold3 then add the source and name of the new database. If I find information in a record, I will change "no record" to "information found in ... record".


It turned out that none of the four direct ancestors in question had any military records, but now I had a research log to indicate that I had searched for records of their military involvement. In addition, the whole process didn't stop me from seeing other family names listed in some of the Georgia records. The surprise for me was learning more about William S Vaughan, the son of my 2nd Great Grandfather Albert Bell Vaughan, Sr. Through the same records in which I found nothing about his father Albert, I learned that William had enlisted in the Confederate Army at the age of 15.(1) At Andersonville in 1864 William contracted measles and became blind in one eye. Later William received an allowance from the state of Georgia to compensate him for his loss of sight. Apparently William was able to return home to Pike County, Georgia for he was listed in the 1864 Census for Reorganizing the Georgia Militia where it was noted that he had an exemption (to any further service) due to his eyes.(2) No more military service for William.

This search period gave me the opportunity to see how the color coding and filters in Family Tree Maker 2017 can help me focus on a specific group of individuals in my research. It also let me see that the Notes field of the Person Workspace in FTM2017 remains a useful place to keep an individual's research log. Finally, using the same geographical databases to search for different people provided to be an efficient strategy, one I'll use again in future research.

Thanks to Russ Worthington's post, I was able to give FTM2017 a good work out and to learn some new information. After all, it never hurts to be looking for new strategies or techniques in researching our ancestors and their families.

1. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Georgia, packet for William S Vaughan, accessed www.fold3.com.
2. Cornell, Nancy J. 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia; accessed Ancestry.com.

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