Ancestor Searching Newsletter, Volume 4, # 1

War of 1812 Genealogy: The War of 1812 generated a large volume of records and, fortunately, a sizable portion of them contain genealogical information on more than 280,000 military participants who fought on the US side. During the two and a half year war, records compiled included enlistment papers, muster rolls, pay rolls, attendance lists, regimental rosters, descriptive lists, account books (clothing, weapons, and ration issued), and discharge papers. Such items as name, rank, date, organization, enlistment date, term of service, promotions, reasons for absence (illness, wounds, death, missing, desertion, furlough, discharge), birth place and date, place of civilian residence, civilian occupation, height, age, color of eyes and hair, and sometimes a signature. Not all of these will necessarily be found for a particular individual’s record but many of these pieces of information will be.

In the War of 1812 there were several categories of personnel who engaged in military activity. It’s important to know about these categories because the location of the records on each of them is different. The six basic categories of servicemen participating in the conflict were: 1) members of the volunteer US Army, 2) members of the regular US Army, 3) members of the US Navy, 4) members of the US Marines, 5) members of the various state and territorial militia organizations who were never made members of the volunteer US Army, and 6) unofficial or semi-official (city, county, region) groups of private citizens who acted against the British or their Indian or Spanish allies.

Pension records exist for the period between the end of the Revolutionary War and the beginning of the Civil War, primarily dealing with the War of 1812, the Indian Wars, and the Mexican War. All of the indexes to these pensions have been published. These records are classified in three groups as the Old War Series Pension Records (available in the Heritage Room). The records pertain to pension applicants who were disabled or killed while serving in any war after the close of the Revolutionary War and before the start of the Civil War, except for the War of 1812 pensions included in the regular War of 1812 pension application files. The original applications are located at the National Archives where copies can be requested. Ancestry.com also now has these records available. The pension applications have been indexed and the index is available through the Family History Library.

Pension application files for veterans of the War of 1812 include applications of veterans still living after 1871, when Congress authorized pensions to veterans who did not later support the Confederate States of America. Applications for death, disability, regular service, widows, and other claimants are included in the same collection. A second act of Congress in 1878 authorized pensions for veterans who saw as few as fourteen days active duty. Virgil D. White’s three-volume Index to War of 1812 Pension Files (National Historical Publishing Co., 1989) indexes applicants eligible for pensions or bounty lands under these two acts (also available in the Heritage Room). Note: A large number of War of 1812 bounty land applications were placed in the pension record files. For those bounty land applications not located with a pension file, the National Archives collection Post-Revolutionary War Series of Bounty Land Applications will be the place to search.

These pension files give the veteran’s name, age, and place of residence. If he was married, the marriage date and the maiden name of his wife are stated. The unit in which he served, the date and place of enlistment, and the date and place of discharge are also given. The widow’s pension file will provide her name, age, and place of residence, their pertinent marriage information, the date and place of the veteran’s death, his enlistment date and place, and the date and place of his final discharge.

Other less thought of and mostly not indexed records held by the National Archives include prisoner of war records, privateer records, muster rolls, military post records, orderly and company records, inspection returns, Naval rosters and registers, Marine rosters and registers, desertion lists, medical records, deaths, ship logs, and cartographic records. Data can be mined from these less obvious records with a moderate-length search even though they are not indexed. Also, don’t overlook the various state archives which were either states or territories during the 1812 - 1815 time period. While some of these records may duplicate those held by the National Archives, they may also contain new and different information. These records usually relate to militia which never did become attached to US forces or to militia activities before they officially became US troops. Finally, there are also some other archives and combined libraries/archives which have War of 1812 materials. These collections, in many cases, relate to military units which were raised in the local area. Original manuscripts make up a portion of these special, local/regional institutions.

Genealogy Workshop

Fact: Records relating to British and American prisoners of war for 1812 to 1815 include miscellaneous correspondence and lists of prisoners sent from the Treasury Department to the Adjutant General’s Office and from the Navy Department to the Adjutant General’s Office. Some of the records have been microfilmed by the National Archives as M2019, Records Relating to War of 1812 Prisoners of War (one roll). The records are indexed in M1747, Index to War of 1812 Prisoners of War (three rolls).

Tip: There is also an Index to US Military Pension Applications of Remarried Widows for Service Between 1812 and 1911 that covers applications involving service during those years in the US Army, US Navy and US Marine Corps.

Genealogy News

Don’t forget the first computer class offering for Footnote.com will be held in the Computer Training Center on Third floor of the Main Library on Tuesday, April 28th from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. As mentioned last month, Footnote has partnered with the National Archives to begin making available online the multitude of original documents from the Archives vast collection.

The Spring Quarter schedule of genealogy computer classes is now set. Here is the schedule for the three-month period:

Genealogy Research Online
Classes are from 2 to 4 PM in the afternoon.
Apr. 22nd, May 20th and June 24th

The following classes are from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.

Footnote.com - Apr. 28th
Ancestry.com - May 26th
New England Ancestry - June 29th

**NOTE: Basic Genealogy and Computer Skills Required. All classes are FREE and held in the Computer Lab on Third Floor of the Main Library. Register for classes in person or by calling 532-2356!