Although the 1890 census was almost totally destroyed, there was a Veteran’s Schedule done at the same time. It’s possible your Civil War ancestor will show up on this. It documented around 75,000 Civil War Union veterans or their widows.
According to the census office, this is the information collected, “name, rank, company, regiment or vessel, date of enlistment, date of discharge, and length of service. It also included the post office address, any disability incurred in the service, and general remarks.” Some of the census takers ended up recording Confederate veterans and veterans of other wars. Read more about the Veterans Census on the National Archives site.
To get something looked up in this Veteran’s Schedule, there’s a special angel out there willing to search for free. Just one search request per person, per day. Allow a week for the look up. The site is called Ancestral Findings and here is the form to submit your request.
I’ve just submitted mine for Abraham Bates Tower. Can’t wait to see if anything turns up for the searcher. Wish me luck.
You can periodically search eBay for letters, souvenir programs and other Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) items. Possibly one will mention your ancestor. In a recent search, I used the terms “Indiana GAR” and another search with “Kansas GAR” which are 2 places my ancestor lived after the war.
Although I did not find him this time, here are examples of what you might find. One photo showed officers of the GAR, but the print on the picture was too small to read. In the eBay description, it told who was in the picture.
An Original And Historic Cabinet Photo, Showing Eleven Photos On One Card – Commander Is TH Soward – Staff is WW Martin, JW Feighn, B Kelly, AB Armeat, OH Couttes, HZ Gill, AH Limrick, RG Ward, and I cant make out the names of the lower left and lower right photos names. Soward And Martin Are Wearing GAR Medals. From the little research I did it appears TH Soward was Commander of 22nd Regiment, Kansas Milita Infantry And Was Department Commander Of The Grand Army Of The Republic
If one of those names were what I sought, I’d be ecstatic. I’m not sure I’d spring the $125 to get it, but I’d sure be tempted.
Here are other examples of what you mght find:
Here’s the kind of information that this included: age, where born, where he lived at the time of the application, his occupation and details of his service.
Take a look at this interesting example:
Take a look on eBay. Who knows what you might find!
I just submitted my request for medical information about my ancestor. Although I don’t know if he was ever wounded, he most likely had medical treatment when he was released from Andersonville Prison. I’m really curious about any information that might be included with this.
Here’s the query I sent to the National Archives:
“I would like a copy of my ancestor’s Civil War Medical Cards.
His name was Abraham Bates Tower. He started as a private and later was a Corporal. He was in company G, 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was a prisoner of war at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
I am working on a book about his life.”
My mind is teeming with the possibilities that this might reveal. Do you know if your ancestor was wounded or had medical treatment during their service?
I found out about medical cards from a blog post on the Genealogy Circle. There are some intriguing posts there called Civil War Saturday, so I’ll be busy reading all of those. Here’s the one about the Medical Cards.
The blogger, Cindy Freed, also has a book that looks helpful. The title is Ancestors in a Nation Divided: An In-Depth Guide to Researching Your Civil War Ancestors and it is available in Kindle or paperback.
UPDATE: I received an email from my inquiry.
“Dear Ms. Allain:
January 23rd is National Handwriting Day each year, so let’s talk about Civil War handwriting. Men who served the Union or the Confederacy were of varied educational backgrounds. Some could read and write well, but others were illiterate. The latter came from rural areas that lacked schools or where keeping the family farm going left no time for schooling.
In Daily Life in Civil War America, the statistics given were about 90% of men in the north could read and 70% in the south.
In searching for your Civil War ancestor, of course you’ll check the 1860 and 1870 census records. In 1860, one of the questions asked if the person was 20 years of age but cannot read or write. In 1870, the census separated that into 2 categories: cannot read, cannot write.
Below is a sample of Abraham Lincoln’s handwriting. Obviously he could write well with his training as a lawyer. For my Civil War ancestor, Abraham Bates Tower of Leavenworth, Indiana, I have no idea of what schooling he received, but the census lists him as able to read and write.
In our family papers is a Abraham Tower’s pocket diary that he appears to have purchased at mustering out time. The first few pages of the small book lists the men of Company G, 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry. In later years, he filled the rest of the diary with family births, marriages and deaths, similar to what one sees in family Bibles.
Spencerian was the style of penmanship popular in the 1850s and 60s. Reading the handwriting of this era can be tricky with faded ink, water damage, archaic words and unfamiliar abbreviations. Here are some tips for reading Civil War letters and diaries.
There are quite a few diaries from this period available for reading online. Getting yourself familiar with the handwriting of that time is easier when you have the original and a transcription side-by-side. Here are links to Confederate, Union and also women’s diaries from the war.
If you don’t know the names of your Civil War ancestors, start by examining your family tree. Look for males with a year of birth between 1818-47. This would be the expected dates for those the right age to serve. Top officers with years of military experience were older than the average recruit. For example, Robert E. Lee born 1807.
Keep in mind that some youngsters may have enlisted while underage, perhaps attracted by the adventure of being a soldier. Likewise, someone over the maximum age of 45 could lie about their age to enlist. Apparently no one checked their age.
One sees very young boys serving as drummer boys with units or even as a powder monkey with the Federal Navy. Boys as young as 11, 12 and 13 are known to have served as drummer boys. These boys would have birth dates in the 1850s.
Search the names from your tree in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System maintained by the National Park Service. It helps to put in the name of the state where your ancestor lived in the early 1860s.
Lately there’s been research about women who disguised themselves as men to serve in the Civil War armies. I’ve seen an estimate of around 400 who chose this unusual way to serve their country or to remain with their spouse. Since this is a fairly small number and they usually assumed a masculine name, it will be quite difficult to track this. Here’s an article that names some of the better-known women who served as Civil War soldiers.
I’ve mentioned before about using Find-a-Grave for tracking down your Civil War ancestor. You can read that post here. There are other sites, if you don’t have any luck with that source.
Try the Billion Graves site. It functions quite a bit like Find-a-Grave with volunteers submitting photographs of the gravestones in the cemeteries across the U.S. and around the world. Put in your ancestor’s name and if you have it, the year for birth and death.
There’s an advanced search where you can narrow the search down by state and county. If you already have an idea of where the grave is, this works fine. If not, the site recommends not searching too specifically. The ancestor may surprise you by being buried some distance from where you expect them to be.
Yesterday, I wrote about a photo that a distant cousin thought was our Civil War ancestor. You can read about that here (Authenticating a Civil War Photo). I wanted to verify this, so did some searching.
It turns out that the soldier in the photo is from the same company as our ancestor and was in Andersonville Prison at the same time. I discovered this by running the photo through Tineye.
The link it provided didn’t work, so my next step was to run the link through The Wayback Machine. That’s a site that stores defunct web sites.
When I saw the results, a web site from 2008, I then googled the topic and found where the page currently resides. Here’s the story about the soldier that the photo actually shows. His name is Lambert Rogier.