Civil War Ancestors

This entry was posted by Jim Sanders on Sunday, 8 January, 2012 at

Civil War Ancestors – Service and Pension Records

Last year was the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. The year saw a number of civil war commemorations and reenactments. I was able to attend a number of these events including one at the Seymour Connecticut Historical Society. It was a very informative and entertaining event. It reminded me of my own civil war ancestors.

Three ancestors of mine served during the civil war. If you are lucky enough to have civil war ancestors of your own, there’s a wealth of records at your disposal to learn more about your ancestors life. One of the first places I found my civil war ancestors was the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. If you can find your ancestor listed in this system you can order his service record and if he or his wife earned a pension you can order his pension record as well. You can find a lot of interesting information in both the service records and the pension records.

You could order civil war records from the NARA. The form ‘NATF 86′ is the form you would fill out to order the service records. The service records might provide a description of you ancestors and whether he was admitted to and/or discharged from a hospital. The form ‘NATF 85′ is the form you would fill out to obtain pension or bounty land records. Here you would find out how much pension was awarded, where the individual lived over time and more. These records can be order directly from NARA. However, I would recommend you contact a professional genealogist living in the Washington DC area who knows about these records. For my civil war ancestors I contacted a genealogist in the area who was able to find the records and make copies of both the service records and the pension records of my civil war ancestors. He did it for less than 1/2 the cost than it would be for ordering the records on-line and it took less than 1/2 of the time to get the records mailed to me.

Of my three civil war ancestors, two of them had both a service record and a pension record which could be found. I believe one of my ancestors served in the United States Regular Army. There was not a service record or a pension record which could be found for him. What information can you find in these records, well below is just some of the information I learned from the service records and the pension records about my ancestors.

John Douglas Laurie’s service records were copied onto 15 legal size pieces of paper. From these records I found he was mustered into the 10th Connecticut infantry on September 30, 1861. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall, had a light complexion, blue eyes and a light colored hair. Various company muster rolls show him as present while others list him as absent. The times which lists him as absent there’s an explanation for the reason why such as a furlough. He re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer on January 1st, 1864. He was shot and taken as a prisoner on Darbytown Road in Virginia on October 13, 1864. He was paroled at Virginia on October 17th and admitted to a hospital on October 20th. He died of his wounds on November 3, 1864.

John Douglas Laurie’s wife received a pension. The pension application was copied onto 19 legal size pieces of paper. The application listed the place and date of Nicholas Martin and John’s marriage. It included the birth dates of all of their children. There were various affidavits attesting to the premise that John Laurie and Nicholas were indeed married. No certificate of marriage was in the records, so other means to confirm they were married was taken.


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Edwin A. Banks’ service records were copied onto 7 legal size pieces of paper. He was mustered into service to the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery on January 2, 1864 when he was eighteen years old. He was mustered out of service on August 18, 1865. He was 5′ 2″ tall with a light complexion, dark colored eyes and brown hair. Some of the papers in his service record were that of his twin brother Edward A Banks. I also had ordered Edwards’ service records and pension records.

Edwin A. Banks’ pension records were copied onto 16 legal size pieces of paper. The application lists Edwin’s wife Mary A. McKeown and the date and place they were married. It lists all of Edwin and Mary’s children and the dates they were born. These records established where Edwin lived during the time after the civil war.

  • 1865 – 1882, he lived in Hartford.
  • 1882 – 1886, he lived in Washington, DC.
  • 1886 – 1893, he live in Revere, MA
  • 1893 – 1897, he lived in Hartford, CT
  • 1897 – 1906, he live in Norwood, MA
  • 1906 – 1908, he lived in Brooklyn, NY
  • 1912, he lived in Norwood, MA
  • 1912, he also live at the National Soldiers home in Kennebec, ME
  • 1914, he lived in Kennebec, ME

As you can see from the dates and places he lived, he moved around quite a bit. I never had known about his move to Washington DC and might never have known this without his pension records.

Patrick Fraher is my other civil war ancestor. I have a picture of him in his civil war uniform. I could not find his service records or any pension records. There are two Patrick Frahers listed in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. One served in the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. This one died in a prison during the war. The second Patrick Fraher served in the 12th regiment of the US Regular Army. I suspect this is my Patrick Fraher. The place of enlistment is near where he lived during the 1865 New York State Census and near where his daughter was born in 1863. The one thing which troubles me though is that he is pictured with an insignia which indicate an artillery unit. Would the 12th regular army have an artillery unit?

I hope this post will inspire you to learn about your own civil war ancestor. Remember you can contact a professional genealogist in the DC area and get both the service records and any pension records perhaps for less than what it might cost by ordering the records on-line from the NARA.

There are also websites such as Fold3 and Ancestry.com where you can search for your ancestor in military records including the civil war.

5 Responses to “Civil War Ancestors”

  1. Tom Kushner

    My g-g grand unlce was Patrick Fraher, Union Army stationed at Fort Hamilton Brooklyn where he lived after the war.

    • Jim Sanders

      Hi there. We should compare notes. There are not too many Frahers that I’m aware of. My Patrick Fraher never lived near Brooklyn as far as I can tell. I first found him in upstate New York and then they eventually settle in New Britain, CT. Do you have any pictures of your Patrick Fraher? In the blog I posted today (about genealogy message boards), there’s a picture of my Patrick Fraher with his wife. Regards, Jim

      • Tom Kushner

        sorry for the late response, what was your Patrick’s wife’s name? I have him living in Williamsburg Brooklyn after Civil War.

        • Jim Sanders

          Hi Tom,

          My Patrick was married to Sarah. They lived in upstate New York, after the civil war. They later moved to Connecticut.

          Regards, Jim

  2. Hello Jim! I told you I would stop by, and I’ve enjoyed reading what I’ve seen so far! Your website is impressive. How long have you been working at it?

    When you visited my site, I wonder if you saw my journal post: Brainstorming for Back Story. http://thebizzybeesfamilyhistoryjournal.blogspot.com/2012/10/brainstorming-for-back-story.html

    I’m working on reconstructing the USCT 14th Heavy Artillery, Co. B so that I can get a better picture of the activities of the Regiment as it pertained to the Company. I will then do Co. G, as that is where Isaac Carter transferred. I also plan on ordering the Civil War Pension Files of all those who filed for a pension, especially for those who hailed from Craven County, North Carolina.

    I can see that I will be visiting your site again! Thanks for stopping by In Black and White: Cross-Cultural Genealogy!


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