Friday, July 17, 2020

Which of Hubby's Ancestors Were in the Civil War? Part 1

The 1910 US Census asked about veteran status.
UA = Union Army service during the Civil War.
Thank you, Ken Burns, for getting the younger generation interested in ancestors who fought in the U.S. Civil War!

A young relative just mentioned watching the popular Ken Burns documentary series The Civil War for the first time.

Me: "Hey, I'm writing a family history booklet about your Civil War ancestors."

Young relative: "Wow, we had ancestors in the Civil War?"

Me: "More than one! Wait till you hear their stories." [Doing the genealogy happy dance--a descendant asking about ancestor stories!]

First Step: Who Was Old Enough to Serve?

From previous research, I'd already identified 10 ancestors of my husband who served in the Union Army. That was just a start.

Now I needed to go through his family tree in a systematic way to see who else might have served in the Civil War. Given the migration patterns in my husband's family (including Ohio Fever that attracted Northeastern ancestors to settle the Ohio River area), I expected to find NO service for the Confederacy, only for the Union side.

My first step was to use RootsMagic7 to sort the family tree by birthdate. I printed the report and used a red pen to mark men eligible for the draft or enlistment. As a rough guide, I was going to investigate those born between the mid-1820s and the late 1840s.

The initial list included 71 men of eligible age for military service.

Second Step: Ancestral Relationship and Location

After deleting a few male ancestors who died just before the Civil War, I examined ancestral relationships and locations. My goal was to eliminate men who had an indirect connection to the family tree and men who lived in another country during the Civil War years.

Name by name, I dropped ancestors such as "father-in-law of niece of 1c2r" as well as ancestors who arrived in America after 1865.

This shortened the list to 33 male cousins and great-great-uncles of eligible age who were living in the United States from 1860 to 1865.

Third Step: The 1910 US Census Clue

Before doing serious Civil War research, I took a quick shortcut to see, as a clue in the 1910 US Census, which of the men on the list had indicated they were veterans.

This clue only works if the male ancestor was still alive in 1910 (he served as late as 1865, so he would not be a spring chicken). And of course it only works if the man or his relative knew enough to tell the enumerator about his military service. Remember, this is a CLUE, still to be verified by further research.

See the snippet at top? The 3d column from the far right on the 1910 Census was a question about whether the person was a veteran.

For Union Army veterans, like my husband's ancestor in this example, the enumerator would write "UA." The National Archives posted this list of veterans' codes for 1910:

  • "UN" for Union Navy
  • "UA" for Union Army
  • "CA" for Confederate Army
  • "CN" for Confederate Navy

In Part 2, I'll describe my next steps in determining which of my husband's ancestors were in the Civil War, where, and when.

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