Do You Have a “Special Research Project”?

Pvt James R Van Meter

Pvt James R Van Meter

As family historians we all have niches in research we tend toward. A favorite ancestor or maybe an era in history we love to research. We might even have a “special research project” saved for when we have more time, money, vacation, etc.

Several years ago I was wandering a cemetery looking at family headstones and noticed a lone grave of a Civil War soldier. His marker was engraved with an eagle and the inscription “Rest Soldier Thy Warfare is Ore”. Oddly enough his surname was one in my family tree but I knew he wasn’t a direct ancestor. When I saw he was only 21 years old when he died I decided to learn about him.

I needed to find out about this young man who died in during the Civil War. Had he been shot in battle? I wondered if he had a wife? Did he leave children? My instinct was that he didn’t and even though I’m sure he was mourned by his parents and siblings it wasn’t too many years later that his name probably wasn’t mentioned again. Not out of malice of course – life goes on. Parents pass away, siblings marry and have families of their own. Brothers who died in the war are mentioned as a passing comment.

So here I was 140+ years after this young soldier’s death, kneeling next to his headstone, telling him I’d learn about his life and he’d never be forgotten. At that moment he became my special project.

imageDo you have a Civil War ancestor you’d like to research? Not sure where to begin? Ancestors In A Nation Divided will guide you through the steps of researching your Civil War ancestor. From the beginning if you only have a name – to an in-depth search of his military and post-war life. This book will take you through the process step-by-step. Ancestors In A Nation Divided – Kindle. Also in paperback. Great research help in learning more about your Civil War veteran’s life.

The June issue of Going In-Depth is available!!

Going In-Depth is the free digital genealogy magazine presented by The In-Depth Genealogist. In each monthly issue, you’ll find guest articles, regular columns, and free resources such as Ask Ephraim and MIAA to help you along your family history journey. As with all IDG products, they strive to create a resource for every genealogist, no matter the age, stage, or focus of your research.

My article this month is Civil War POWs and listed on the cover! Click the magazine photo to start reading excellent genealogy research ideas for free!

George S. Van Meter #52 Ancestors

#52 Ancestors in 52 WeeksWith Memorial Day only one week away I thought I’d dedicate my #52 Ancestors post to the Civil War veterans in my family. Memorial Day originally called Decoration Day was set aside to honor and remember Civil War soldiers. Today we remember all veterans who have served our country through the decades. Since I’ve already written about my direct ancestor George W. Lowery here my next couple #52 Ancestors posts will remember my first cousins 4x removed who both fought and died in the Civil War, James and George Van Meter.

George S. Vanmeter born in 1841 was the third of seven children to parents John and Rachel Stevenson Vanmeter. John and Rachel had deep roots in Putnam County, Ohio. Both were born there, they married there and started their family there nestled in a prosperous farming community. (John’s brother James is my 3x great grandfather.)

George’s closest friend and playmate growing up may well have been his brother James. Only 22 months younger, I’ll bet James and George were close. Their reliance on each other may have been strengthened when the family left their home, grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins to live in Lucas County, Ohio. Quite a distance from their relatives and friends, the family farmed in their new location. Their close family ties came to a screeching halt when John the family patriarch died in 1851.

Cannon at Battle of Five Forks Virginia

Cannon at Battle of Five Forks Virginia
Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

George was only 10 years old when his father died. Along with his siblings he brought his father’s body back to Putnam County to be buried. Laid to rest among family members John Vanmeter’s death rocked this family to its very core.

Mother Rachel could not support her seven children ranging in age from 13 years to baby John just over one year old. The children were sent to live with aunts and uncles in the area. Their family was broken apart.

George and James lived in different households for a few years. Living with extended family I think they were able to see each other at church and other gatherings. Yet those years separated didn’t diminish their brotherly love. Continue reading

George Washington Lowery #52 Ancestors

Pvt G W Lowery Co. A 81st Penn Inf

Pvt George W Lowery Co. A 81st Pennsylvania Infantry

This week’s 52 Ancestors post holds a very special place in my genealogy heart. I’m writing about my 2x great grandfather George Washington Lowery. He is the only direct ancestor I can prove fought in the Civil War. He was born 10 January 1828 in Martin, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately I don’t know (yet) who George’s parents are or about any of his siblings. I do know he married Barbara Ann Lowe 7 July 1853 in Waynesboro, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

The part of George’s life my sister and I have concentrated on researching is his Civil War service. He was drafted July 19, 1864 at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was assigned to Co. A, 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry for three years. George was a 37-year-old laborer. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair, he was an average guy, his description was not uncommon for the time.

Serving during the latter part of the war he was a draftee. I suspect my grandfather left his wife and six children a bit reluctantly to answer the call of his country.

After a brief two-month training to make him and the rest of the recruits into soldiers, my great grandfather and his fellow comrades were sent to join their regiment. The 81st Pennsylvania had been mired with the rest of the Second Corps at Petersburg, Virginia, which had been under siege for months which lasted from late 1864 into spring 1865. Continue reading

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!