Did You Check the 1890 Veterans’ Schedules?

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.


UPDATE March 6, 2015: Had a reply on my inquiry on the 1890 Veterans Schedule and no luck. Sigh.


Tombstone Tuesday – Finding Your Ancestor’s Grave

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.

Accessing Subscription Genealogy Sites for Free

Genealogy can be an expensive hobby or passion. Ancestry.com alone can be over $150 for a year’s subscription.

Fortunately, it gives you a free two-week trial which has some added benefits down the road. If you sign up for the trial membership, then you get email notices from the site pretty regularly.

Every so often, usually around holiday weekends, it has an open search. If you don’t want to pay for the year’s membership, you’ll want to take advantage of the open access times offered.

At special times during the year, this military records site offers free weekend access to certain records. Sign up for their emails at the site to be notified of these.

At special times during the year, this military records site offers free weekend access to certain records. Sign up for their emails at the site to be notified of these.

The example shown in the graphic above is my email from the Fold3 site which is another genealogy subscription site. It specializes in military records. As you can see, it offers the free access every now and then as well.

Best of luck on hunting down your ancestors!

ONE WARNING: Be sure to cancel at the end of the trial period. Some sites automatically roll into the full membership and charge your credit card.

(graphic created by me using Awesome Screenshots)

Make Copies of Information You Find Online

You may think it sufficient to bookmark a site that relates to your ancestor. Alas, the Internet shifts, changes, and sites can disappear.

I recommend saving a screen shot on your computer or using a clipping app like Evernote. Even that isn’t enough insurance. What if your computer crashes. Go one step further and print a paper copy to keep.

Last year I’d found a great website about Belgians in the Civil War. It included half a dozen men who were in my great-great grandfather’s company and several were in Andersonville with him. The profiles on this site were most informative and probably written from the pension files of these individuals.

I made a few notes and saved a link, thinking I could always go back for more details later. Unfortunately the profiles are now gone from online. If I want that information, I’ll need to order their pension records. That’s an expense I wasn’t planning on, so I’m really regretting that I didn’t print all that information when I first found it.

Henri Devillez served in Company G, 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry with my ancestor. In 2012, I visited his grave in Leopold, Indiana.

Henri Devillez served in Company G, 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry with my ancestor. In 2012, I visited his grave in Leopold, Indiana.

I’ve included a few notes about him and other enlisted men of Company G on a web page where I was stockpiling links. From now on, I’m also printing out all that I find.

Try Searching with Mocavo

I didn’t want to pay for a membership to Mocavo, but it can be useful even without the paid subscription. This site is a search engine but it focuses on genealogy searches so you don’t end up with all the clutter that searching a name on Google brings.

Since I once signed up for a free trial, Mocavo sends me reminders and links frequently. I click on those and it shows a thumbnail view of what it found. When you click on that, the site asks you to subscribe.

At that point, most searchers just say “darn” and abandon it. Look again at the snippet it shows you. If it looks like a match for the person you seek, you can use the clues it provides to sometimes find the same information on Google.

Here’s an example of how it helped me. My search was “Abraham Tower.” It brought up this:

Full text of “History of Dubois County from its primitive days to 1910”

… H. Burt, Abraham B. Tower, John … later Governor Hovey, was its colonel. It served its country in Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mis- sissippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas. It took part in the sieges …

This is somewhat cryptic but I wanted to read the whole passage. As usual, I couldn’t click through to see the content. I took this phrase “Full text of “History of Dubois County from its primitive days to 1910” and searched it in Google. That brought up a site with the full text of the book for me to read online. I could even search within the text.

I found that Abraham Bates Tower was a charter member of the E.R. Hawn Post #266 of the G.A.R. that was located in Birdseye, Indiana. It was chartered 28 December 1883. Other charter members were Eleven R. Huff, S.M. Nash, S.V.C., E.H. Baxter, John W. Mason, E.E. Inman, Robert McMahel and Fred Miller.

This was useful information for me, showing where my ancestor was in 1883 and that he was active in the G.A.R.

Online Sites to Search

I gave a talk at the genealogy club I belong to. My topic included online sites for searching for a Civil War ancestor.

You’ll want to go first to the Soldiers and Sailors Database at the National Park Service. It includes a database of Civil War prisoner information for sites like Andersonville and others. I recommend printing out any information that you find online. Sometimes sites or databases disappear.

To order Civil War pension records, try this site.

As you know much genealogy information is only available online through subscription sites. For military records, I hear many recommendations for fold3. I haven’t tried it yet, but probably need to quit stalling and give it a whirl.