Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Preserving Bite-Sized Bios of Military Ancestors

During the 2020 summer of pandemic lockdown, I had lots of time to create a research-based but very readable booklet about the 18 Wood ancestors in my husband's family tree who served in the US Civil War. I sent the booklet to descendants, knowing several were keenly interested in that war and had visited battlefields in the past. Over time, I discovered additional ancestors who served for the Union, but I never updated the booklet. Until now.

With Memorial Day on my mind, I'm currently expanding this booklet to include Wood ancestors who served in:

  • The American Revolution (1 militia man in Massachusetts)
  • The War of 1812 (4 men in Ohio, 1 man in Massachusetts--son of the Revolutionary War patriot)
  • The US Civil War (20 serving for the Union, 3 serving for the Confederacy)
  • World War I, Allied side (8 US/Canadian/British ancestors)
  • World War II, Allied side (7 US/Canadian ancestors)
My goal is to honor the military service of these 40 ancestors and briefly tell their family stories in context. For instance, I was surprised to learn not long ago that my husband's uncle enlisted as World War II was ending, becoming a Staff Sgt with 1958th Service Command Unit of U.S. Army, which escorted military prisoners. Even though this man was 35 years old, married with two children at home, he chose to serve in the military for a year. I want his story to be remembered, along with the stories of all the other veterans in the family tree. Every story matters, and I will continue to post these bite-sized bios on genealogy websites to share what I know now--part of my plan to ensure a future for my family's history so these names and lives aren't forgotten.

As shown at top, I'm using two royalty-free color images to illustrate the title page. Color catches the eye and attracts readers to my short paragraphs. I'm updating the index to include all names, all military branches, all units, any honors and awards, and adding a special listing of the few who were unfortunately killed in action.

Just as important, I'm explaining the exact relationship of each ancestor to my readers, such as: John N. McClure, Union Army, 2d great uncle of my husband, 3d great uncle to the following generation. This helps my readers understand the family relationship to people they never met but will come to know through my bite-sized bios featuring their military service.

"Preserve" is Amy Johnson Crow's prompt for week 19 of her #52Ancestors  genealogy challenge.


  1. What a wonderful book you're working on. I love that you are putting in relationships, to help the family knowing how they are related.

  2. What a great idea! I haven't got much into the military records of collateral kin. My direct line has a lot of military service, as far back as King Philip's War and as recently as the military service of my husband and myself (U.S. Coast Guard, both of us). I enjoyed this post.