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.


Requesting Civil War Medical Cards from the National Archives

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.

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UPDATE: I received an email from my inquiry.

“Dear Ms. Allain:

This is in response to your inquiry requesting to obtain a copy of the Civil War Carded Medical Cards pertaining to Private/Corporal Abraham Bates Tower, Company G, 93rd IN Infantry.
We searched Record Group 94: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, Entry 534: Carded Medical Records, Volunteers, Mexican & Civil Wars (1846-65).
We were unable to identify any Carded Medical Records pertaining to Private/Corporal Abraham Bates Tower, Company G, 93rd IN Infantry.
P. H.
Archives I Reference Section
Archival Operations-Washington, DC “

Find Potential Civil War Soldiers on Your Family Tree

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.

Powder Monkey by Gun 1864 Print
Powder Monkey by Gun 1864 Print by ClassicOldPhotos
This boy carried bags of gunpowder on the USS New Hampshire. Photo from 1864.

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.

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)

Another Angle to Search

I subscribe to the Genealogy Tip of the Day and yesterday’s was a great one for anyone searching for their Civil War ancestor. The valuable tip advised searching for the commanding officer’s name.

The thinking is that any newspaper articles or web pages may profile or include this person and yield details relating to the company that your ancestor was in. Usually the commanding officer was someone of importance in the community.

I’d already tried this avenue of research for my great-great grandfather. It did turn up some helpful information for me. The regimental history gave me the name of Jerome Spilman who was the captain.

By searching his name, I found quite a few tidbits to add to my background information on Company G and its movements. This helps me understand my ancestor’s experience during the war.

I wrote about my findings on this page: Officers of Company G, 97th Indiana Infantry.

Civil War Soldier 1863 Greeting Card
Civil War Soldier 1863 Greeting Card by ClassicOldPhotos

Finding Regimental Histories

If you know what regiment and company your Civil War ancestor was in, then you’ll find a wealth of information searching on that. Usually you can find out the names or roster of people in a company (usually about 100 men). From my great-great grandfather’s pension record, I knew he was in Company G, 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

When you search for the regiment, try variations like “93 Indiana Infantry” and “ninty third Indiana Volunteers.” Sometimes you find sources such as an old book on the regiment that has been placed online. Most of these can be searched by name inside the book.

Some information is available through the state archives, so go to those sites once you know what state your ancestor’s regiment was from. The regimental histories give a list of the places, some dates and the battles the regiment was in. This lets you see where your ancestor was during different times of the war.

I found it helpful to map out the movements of the regiment so I could visualize it better. This is my web page Tracking the 93rd Indiana Infantry‘s locations during the Civil War.

Civil War Topics by Virginia Allain

Civil War Topics by Virginia Allain

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.