Archive for category Military Genealogy

Military Monday – Civil War Pension Records

Posted by Jim Sanders on Monday, 27 August, 2012

Last Monday we saw what type of information you might find within a Civil War Service record. This week we will explore what hidden genealogy nuggets may be contained within a Civil War Pension record. Either a Civil War Soldier or wife would be able to file for a pension. On rare occasions, even a mother or father would be able to file for their deceased son.

Civil War Pension for Nicholas Laurie,
Widow of John D. Laurie, 10th Connecticut Infantry

John Douglas Laurie enlisted in company E of the 10th Connecticut Infantry. This unit was one of the most successful of all the units in the Civil War from Connecticut. John was wounded and captured in a batlle on Dabrytown Road in Virginia on October 13, 1864. He was paroled a few days later and died of his wound on November 3, 1864. This left his wife Nicholas to provide care for five Laurie children and herself.

Nicholas (Martin) Laurie applied for a Widow’s Army Pension. She had to prove that she and John were actually married and that the five children were John’s. This proved to be a somewhat difficult task. John and Nicholas were married in Scotland. There first two children were also born there. A third child was born at sea as Nicholas was coming to the United States.

In the civil war pension file there were papers which were copied onto nineteen legal sized pieces of paper. One of the documents in the pension folder was the family bible entries for each of their John and Nicholas’ children. The bible enties list the date of each birth and where they were born.

Civil War Pension Record - John D. Laurie - 10th Connecticut Infantry

There were various affidavits testifying to the fact that John and Nicholas cohabitated like husband and wife. There was an affidavits from a reverand who baptised a few of the Laurie children in the United States.. Many of the documents were hand written and difficult to read.

Civil War Pension Record - John D. Laurie - 10th Connecticut Infantry - b

Here are some facts pulled from the pension file.

  • John Douglas Laurie married Nicholas Martin on 28-Dec-1849 in Thornhill Dumfrieshire
  • Grace Laurie b. 9-Sep-1850 in Thornhill, Scotland.
  • Elizabeth Laurie b. 22-Aug-1852 in Glasgow, Scotland
  • John Laurie b. 11-Sep-1854 at sea
  • William Laurie b. 22-Jun-1856 in Hartford, Connecticut, USA
  • Annie Laurie b. 16-Nocv-1857 in Hartford, Connecticut, USA

Ultimately Nicholas’ pension was approved. However she did not get credit for her oldest child while the amount of here pension was determined.

Civil War Pension for Edwin A. Banks,
2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery

Edwin A. Banks served with his twin brother Edward A. Banks in the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery during the civil war. He applied for and received a pension for his service in the early 1900s. A wealth of information was contained in his civil war pension records. A lot of the information was already known, but a number of additonal facts were learned. Edwin’s pension file consisted of sixteen legal sized pieces of paper. Each document in the file has the potential to contain just that missing piece of evidence you need. From one original declaration for pension document, the following facts can be attained. You will need to read and re-read each of the documents from the pension file.

Civil War Pension Record - Edwin Banks - 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery

Military Service:

  • He enrolled on 2-Jan-1864 in New Haven, Connecticut.
  • He was a private in Company A, Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery.
  • He was honorable discharged at Fort Ethan Allen, Virginia on 18-Aug-1865.
  • He did not at any other time serve in the military.

Places of residence:

  • Edwin lived in Hartford, Connecticut from 1865 after being discharged until 1882.
  • He lived in Washington, DC from 1882 to 1886.
  • He lived in Revere, Massachusetts from 1886 to 1893.
  • He lived in Hartford, Connecticut from 1893 to 1897.
  • He lived in Norwood, Massachusetts from 1897 to 1906.
  • He lived in Brooklyn, New York from 1906 to 1908.
  • On 4-Dec-1908, he was living at 2109, Pacific Street in Brooklyn, New York, the same address as Alfred E. Banks (his son).

Physical Description:

  • He was 5 feet 2 inches tall, had a light complexion with brown hair and dark colored eyes.

I had not known before that Edwin had moved to Washington DC. It happened in between the census and I had not found city directories to look for. Because the pension records put Edwin in Washington DC, I found he was working for the Federal Government. I was even able to find out how many hours he worked one year and what he got paid per hour. All that addiitonal information I would not have been able to find if it had not been for his pension record.

Here are just a few additional facts contained within Edwin’s Pension file

Civil War Pension Record - Edwin Banks - 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery - b

  • He was born on 28-Nov-1846.
  • He was married to Mary A. McKeown on 22-Apr-1869
  • He had three and only three childrem. The birth dates of his children are listed.
  • Various resident addresses are listed for various points in his life including after 1908.
  • He was unable to earn a support by 11-Feb-1905 due to a heart condition and rhumatism.
  • His pension started out at $6 per month and increased a number of times.
  • By 1918, Edwin was receiving a pension of $38 per month.

If you have civil war ancestors, order the full civil war pension file. You can hire a professional from the area to get them for you. You can save a lot of money this way and get the records a lot sooner than ordering them through NARA. There are a lot of hidden genealogy nuggets in civil war pension files.

Military Monday – Civil War Service Recods

Posted by Jim Sanders on Monday, 20 August, 2012

The civil war produced a lot of records of great value for the family historian and genealogist. The civil war service records do not get as much focus for genealogy as the pension records. However, the family historian should not overlook the potential hidden genealogy nuggets within these records.

Edward A Banks enlisted in the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery. He was seventeen at the time of his enlistment. Below is a note from his grandfather and guardian which gave him permission to enlist in the Army of the United States. His twin brother who enlisted just days later did not have the same type of handwritten note from his grandfather.

Civil War Service Record - Edward Banks - Orrin Shepard permission

If your ancestor ended up in a hospital for some reason or another, a record should exist within the service records. With this information you would be able to exclude some battlles your ancestor might have fought in. Here we find out that on May 23, 1865 Edward A Banks was admitted to the Douglas General Hospital in Washington DC.

Civil War Service Record - Edward Banks - Hospital Admission

If you like collecting signatures of your ancestors, a good place to find one would be on your ancestors enlistment papers. Here Edwin A Banks of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery signs his enlistment papers. He declares that he is eighteen years old. We know though that he is only seventeen as his twin brother needed his grandfathers permission to enlist.

Civil War Service Record - Edwin Banks - Enlistment Paper


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A company descriptive roll will have a partial description of him. It will indicate how tall he was, the color of his hair and eyes and his complexion. Edwin A Banks was 5 feet 2 (1/4) inches tall with brown hair, dark eyes and a light complexion.

Civil War Service Record - Edwin Banks - Descriptive Roll

If your ancestor was unlucky enough to become a prisoner of war, you will find out some details. John D. Laurie of the 10th Connecticut Infantry was captured on Darbytown Rd in Virginia on October 13, 1864. He was paroled four days later on October 17 and admitted to a hospital on October 20.

Civil War Service Record - John D Laurie - Prisoner of War

And if your ancestor died during the civil war, details about his death and burial can be found. John D. Laurie died of his wounds on November 3, 1864. He was buried in Ash Grove Cemetery.

Civil War Service Record - John D Laurie - Death and burial


The service records and pension records can be ordered through NARA. However, you can hire a genealogist from the Washington DC area, save money and get the copies faster than you would by ordering them through NARA. I did this for my own civil war records and saved more the 50% of what I would of had to pay if I order them through NARA.

Military Monday & Blogiversary

Posted by Jim Sanders on Monday, 28 May, 2012

Today in the United States we celebrate Memorial Day. It is a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of United States. Today is also the one year anniversary of when I started this blog. In honor of Memorial Day I’d like to take this opportunity and talk about my ancestor who fought and died in the service of the United States. I invite you who might be visiting this site today or any day to mention your own ancestor who gave thier life in the service of the United States. If you don’t have an ancestor who died giving service, perhaps mention an ancestor of yours who was in the military.

My ancestor John Douglas Laurie was born in Scotland. He was married to Nicholas Martin on December 28, 1849. John and Nicholas had five children Grace, Elizabeth, John, William and Annie. The oldest Grace was born in 1850 and the youngest Annie was born in 1857. John enlisted in Company E of the Tenth Connecticut Infantry as a private on September 30, 1861. His children at that time ranged in age from not quite four years old to eleven years old. He was off to protect the union as so many others were doing.

The Tenth Connecticut Infantry was one of the most successful units from Connecticut during the Civil War. They first saw action on February 8, 1862 in the Battle of Roanoke Island in North Carolina. Just over a month later on March 14 they were engaged in the Battle of New Berne. Over the course of the next year and a half, the Tenth Connecticut participated in many skirmishes and battles including but not limted to Kingston on December 12, Whitehall on December on 16, Goldsboro December on 17, Secessionville on July 16, 1863, and the siege and capture of Fort Wagner in 1863. The muster rolls from the start of the war up until September 15, 1863 show John as either present or not stated. He was very likely engaged in almost all of the battles the Tenth Connecticut had seen up until this point in the war.

On September 15, 1863 John was furloughed for 30 days and was in a hospital at New Haven, Connecticut. It is likely he was there for an illness as opposed to some battle injury as no mention of injury has been found. John returned to his unit on December 28, 1863, much longer than the original 30 day furlough. At that time, the Tenth Connecticut was in St. Augustine, FL. On January 1, 1864 John re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer and was promoted to a corporal. He was given a furlough for 30 days on February 13 and was in Connecticut.


Search Civil War Records - Fold3

The unit stayed in Florida until April of 1864. After that they were in action in a number of additional battles including but not limited to Port Waltahll Juction on May 7, Fort Darling from May 12 to May 16, Petersberg on June 9 Deep Bottom on July 27 & 28 and Chaffin’s Farm frm September 28 to September 30. The Tenth Connecticut’s original three year enlistment was up on September 30 for many of the soldiers. The ranks were depleted and the number of men left were about 100 men.

On October 13, 1864, the unit was tasked to do reconnoissance on Darbytown Road. The tenth was tasked with other units to take the rebels which were dug in. In that skirmish, what was left of the Tenth Connecticut was descimated. This was the only battle in which the Tenth Connecticut was forced to retreat. John was wounded and left on the battlefield.

John became a prisoner of war and was confined at Richmond, VA for a very short period of time. He was paroled on October 17, 1864 and in a Union Hospital by October 20. He died of his wounds on November 3, 1864, twenty days after he was shot. The service records indicated he was buried in Ash Grove Cemetery. However, there is cemetery plot for him in Zion Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut. I’m not sure if his body was moved from Ash Grove or if the plot at Zion Hill was just a memorial stone.

At the time of his death his children ranged in age from not quite eight years old to just 14 years old. Nicholas Laurie applied for a widow’s pension. After a long period of time and a number of affidavids a widows pension was granted.

The service records and pension records of John Douglas Laurie was invaluable in knowing about his time in the military was well as providing genealogical information about his marriage and children. The pension record included a copy of what appears to be bible records. The date and place of his marriage and birthdates of his children are included. If you have ancestors who fought during the civil war, I highly reccommend you get both the service records and the pension records.

Civil War Ancestors

Posted by Jim Sanders on Sunday, 8 January, 2012

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.


Search Civil War Records - Fold3

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.