Civil War Quick Tip for your Alabama Ancestor

FBGenCircleLogo1Here’s a great resource for researching your Alabama Civil War veteran.

This site, Alabama Civil War Roots, lists numerous helps for researching your ancestor. Everything from Alabama Soldiers with Florida Pensions to Civil War Letters. If your Civil War ancestor served in an Alabama regiment you’ll want to check this out.

Also I’d love for you to sign up for my monthly tipsCivil War Research Tips here. I’ll share pointers and info to help in researching your Civil War ancestor. Please take a moment to sign up and thanks so much!

#IDGChat: Guest Chat with Cindy Freed on Civil War Research, Friday February 7, 2014


Join us for #IDGChat

That’s right! I’ll be co-hosting this week’s #IDGChat with regular hosts Terri O’Connell and Jen Alford!

We’ll be talking about researching our Civil War ancestors. It’ll be a time for all of us to share our research experiences, best resources, etc.

Bring your questions, tips and blog posts about your veteran to #IDGChat Friday February 7th. We’ll learn a lot and have fun while doing it!

We will use as our chat room, it worked well for the brick wall chat in January so we’ll use it again this time. All you need to do is sign in with your Twitter account and you will be ready to go.

Since I’m a guest host this week, IDG asks that you make sure your are following @genealogycircle as well as @indepthgen @tracingmyfamily and @JenniferAlford on Twitter.

The #IDGChat times across the country are:

8pm EST

Join us for the entire hour or any portion of it—we want you to attend!

I can’t wait to chat with you this Friday at #IDGChat. See you then!

He Did More for a Sick Young Soldier than any Medical Attention Ever Could #52Ancestors

James D and Mary E (Shriver) Van Meter

James D and Mary E (Shriver) Van Meter

As I sat down to start writing about this week’s #52 Ancestors I had intended to choose one of my grandmothers. I’ve written about both grandfathers the past two weeks so it was only natural to switch over to the women. Yet once I sat down it just didn’t feel like grandmothers day so I pulled up my fan chart to look over my list of ancestors and came to James Downing Van Meter. I realized right away he’s the one to write about this week so here’s his story.

James Downing Van Meter is my 3x great grandfather. He was born September 9, 1804 in Brooke County, Virginia but didn’t stay a Virginian long. Along with his parents and grandparents a young Jim settled in Ohio. I’ve blogged about his youth before here. It’s a great story about this small boy’s broken thigh and a Native American who healed him. I’d love it if you’d check it out but with this post I want to write about the man my research has found James D. Van Meter to be.

James married Mariah Elizabeth Shriver December 16, 1832. They were the parents of nine children. My 2x great grandmother Susannah being their oldest. The family farmed quite a number of acres in the northern part of Allen County, Ohio.

As I check the censuses through the years these Van Meters had no problem opening their doors to whoever needed a home. When James’ brother John passed away he and Mariah took in one of John’s sons James R. into their home. When their oldest daughter turns up pregnant without being married her son is added in the mix and that’s just a couple examples of their open door compassion and generosity.

Yet in my opinion the most telling characteristic of James D Van Meter comes in a passage written by nephew James R. (the one he took in after his father’s death) in a letter home. Continue reading

Another first – a national holiday – 150 years ago today


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Photo Credit: LGBChris stock.xchng

President Abraham Lincoln was a busy man in 1863. His executive orders that year have shaped our way of life in the 21st century.



The Emancipation Proclamation was issued and took effect January 1, 1863. Lincoln also gave a short speech at Gettysburg that has not only endured through the ages but is arguably the best oration this country has ever heard.



Then there is the president’s proclamation of October 3, 1863. Abraham Lincoln had been aware of writer Sara Josepha Hale’s campaign to institute Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. Up to this point the day was celebrated randomly by individual states without a set date and not at all in most southern states. Hale spent 30 + years writing letters to political office holders and editorials to any and all magazines and newspapers in the hopes they would promote her plan. Yet it was in 1863, in the midst of a bloody civil conflict, President Abraham Lincoln took Hale’s request to heart.


Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!
Photo Credit: alex27 stock.xchng


Lincoln wanted all Americans to “observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” It was his request to citizens to “commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”



Early on celebrations of the holiday varied from region to region yet Thanksgiving has been an annual national holiday ever since 1863 evolving into the day we now know filled with family, food and thankfulness for our many blessings.



I think President Lincoln would be pleased at that.

Four Score and Seven Years Ago . . . . . 150 Years Later

Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. We all know this concise but poignant speech was given by President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg.

It was only four months after the fierce and bloody fighting there. With a casualty rate topping 50,000 and more than 10,000 of that number dead, the work of burying those slain, fell to the people of the area. The citizens soon realized a proper cemetery for the fallen Union soldiers was needed and they petitioned the governor for help.

The result was the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and it’s dedication ceremony was slated for November 19, 1863.

Famous Massachusetts politician and speaker Edward Everett was asked to give a speech and President Lincoln was asked to give “a few appropriate remarks.” The story is often told that Everett gave a long-winded two hour speech regarding the war and the events that led up to it before the president spoke. Lincoln in only 272 words and in just under two minutes honored the sacrifice of those soldiers who perished and pressed forward the Union cause.

Ohio's Unknown Soldiers at Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg

Ohio’s Unknown Soldiers at Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

Newspaper reviews on the president’s remarks were mixed. The Springfield Republican (MA) paper hailed the president remarks “deep in feeling, compact in thought and expression, and tasteful and elegant in every word and comma”. Yet a regional Pennsylvania paper the Patriot & Union called his speech “silly”. Coincidentally last week the paper now known as The Patriot News retracted their statement on the President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address saying they “regret the error”.

There are five copies of the Gettysburg Address in existence. Each one has a slight variation in verbiage. Each is handwritten by Lincoln and named for the person the copy was given to.

• The president gave a copy believed to be the speech’s first draft to John G. Nicolay, his personal secretary
• John Hay, a White House assistant, received the second draft of the speech.
• The talkative Edward Everett, the other speaker on that November day asked for a copy to benefit Union soldiers and Lincoln obliged.
• Lincoln wrote another copy for George Bancroft to use for another charitable opportunity raising money for soldiers. Unfortunately the president wrote on both sides of the paper and this edition of the speech couldn’t be used.
• Alexander Bliss was Bancroft’s stepson and asked President Lincoln for another copy of the speech which Lincoln produced. This is the only signed and dated copy of the address and the one reprinted most often through history. Continue reading