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!

Where can you get lots of free genealogy research help? Going In-Depth of course!

Have you had a chance to read the November issue of Going In-Depth!

With articles like Researching Women in the Military, Finding Your Cherokee Ancestors and my own column Are There Civil War Genealogy Gems in Your Backyard? you’ll find lots of new ideas and tips for your genealogy research.

So kick your feet up and grab your favorite beverage and let’s “Go In-Depth”!

What Do You Do When Your Civil War Ancestor Isn’t Quite the Hero You Thought He Was?

This was previously published in the Going In-Depth October issue. You can find the entire issue here.

Gettysburg National Battlefield

Gettysburg National Battlefield Photo credit: Cindy Freed

Has this happened to you? After a little bit of research have you found an ancestor that didn’t quite live up to your expectations? It happened to me. You may have heard my story before but let me give you a little background. Like any self respecting family historian or genealogist I spend a good deal of time in cemeteries. I’m really fortunate enough to live in the same area my ancestors lived. I’m the seventh generation in one line of my family tree to live in this area so that translates into many ancestors buried close enough for me to visit. My sister and I joke about one small cemetery, Rockport Methodist in Allen County Ohio, where we believe we’re related to at least half the people buried there.

James R Van Meter Co. A 4th OVC

James R Van Meter Co. F 4th OVC Photo redit: Cindy Freed

It was on one of my excursions to Rockport a couple years back that I came across a Civil War soldier with the same surname as my 2x great grandmother. He was barely 21 years old when he died during the war. I hated to think that he probably didn’t leave a wife or children and that without descendants his memory was lost soon after his death. I knew he was a collateral ancestor but that didn’t matter. I was going to research James R Vanmeter and tell his story. He didn’t serve his country at its most crucial time to be lost to history. Right? So I took up the task of remembering James R. Vanmeter.

As I began my research I was sure James had succumbed to wounds while in battle. He died during the war on February 18, 1864. I was swept away by my own thoughts of his youthful courage and patriotism. I diligently searched the Soldiers and Sailors database, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. I soon found he served with Co. F 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC). I found a couple amazing books outlining the history of the 4th OVC. The first was The Invincibles – The Story of the Fourth Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry 1861 – 1865 by Nancy Pape-Findley. The other I found online in Google Books. It was while reading the The Story of the 4th Regiment Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry by Lucien Wulsin I had my first inkling James wasn’t who I’d built him up to be in my mind.

I found the 4th OVC was on furlough when James died. He had reenlisted in January 1864 and was able to go home with a return date of March 7, 1864 to Camp Dennison. Okay so he didn’t die on a battle field riddled with bullets. He died at home. Still his death had to be valiant, right? Due to some kind of injury due to enemy fire.

Civil War, Genealogy Research

James R Van Meter letter to mother. Image in author’s collection

I took a shot and researched James in the Civil War veteran’s pensions. I didn’t expect a thing since he was not married yet found a card on him. Rachel Milliken had filed for a pension on James’ service. His mom’s first name was Rachel but last name was Vanmeter not Milliken or so I thought.

This tidbit that some person had filed for a pension on James’ military service led me to request his pension file from the National Archives. I waited anxiously. What was I thinking? I still wasn’t exactly sure how James and I were related. Shouldn’t I be spending money on my own direct ancestors instead of chasing someone else’s?

When all 64 pages of James Vanmeter’s pension file came I couldn’t wait to get into it and what I read made it worth every cent I spent. It contained blockbuster information. Drunkenness, divorce, illness, death. Lots and lots of letters from James’ mom to the pension board as she pled her case for a pension, even two letters she had received written by James while with the 4th! I was ecstatic! Continue reading

Jump on board my time machine – I’m heading back!

GAR Personal War Sketches Mart Armstrong Post 202

GAR Personal War Sketches Mart Armstrong Post 202

Did you happen to catch the July issue of Going In-Depth? If not you’re missing out! It’s jammed full of genealogy help and information. Better yet it’s free every month!

You can take a look at it here. While you’re at it flip to page 19. That’s my article on the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). I learned so much researching that article. The little known resources I found locally on Civil War veterans is killer.

Today I’m following up on the Personal Sketches album I referred to in the article. Here’s one page of that fabulous book written in the veteran’s own hand! We get a glimpse into what the war was like for him. What events and people he’ll never forget. It’s his story.

**I did correct the spelling when transcribing this page hoping to make it easier to read. I didn’t change punctuation.**

W. Francis Maltbie
born December 24, 1836 in Centerville, Montgomery County, Ohio

I first entered the service April 20, 1861 at Lima, Ohio. Entered as a private Co. F 20th Regiment OVI and was a private at the close of the war. I was first discharged August 18, 1861 at Columbus Ohio by reason of expiration of term of service. Reenlisted on the 30 day of August 1861was transferred from Co. B 81st OVI to Co. D 81st OVI in December 1864 and was discharged July 13, 1865 Louisville, KY by reason of expiration of term of service.

Record of Service
My first battle was Pittsburg Landing, Tenn – 2nd Corinth Miss in May and June 1862 commonly -??- the Siege of Corinth. 3d battle was the battle at Corinth October 3 and 4th 1862 – 4th Resaca Ga 5th OstaNaula – 6th Lays (Fery) Ferry – 7th Rome Cross Roads. 8Th Dallas. 9Th Kenesaw Mountain. . . 10th Atlanta July 22nd to the 27th the Siege of Atlanta 11th Jonesborrow August 31st 1864. 12th Savannah – 13 Bentonville North Carolina

Record of escapes
I was slightly bruised from a spent shell at Corinth Miss Oct 3d 1862 and another time at the Siege of Atlanta Ga I never was in a hospital and was never taking prisoner

Intimate Comrades
Sumner T Mason, Gidion Ditto, J W Tellier, Thomas A Maltbie, G W Miller, J M Nantshurr, A Fulmer, G W Dirtson

Noted Events (Battle of Pittsburg Landing, Atlanta Campaign. Shermans March
of importance (to the Sea, and through the Carolinas, and Grand Review Washington

Maltbie took the time to record his Civil War service in his GAR post’s book. It was that important to him! Only about a quarter of the members did. Continue reading

Mapping Our Civil War Ancestor

Civil War research, genealogy, Regular army

U S Cavalry equipment (Photo Credit: the swedishsxc1.com)

Many of my monthly columns for Tracing Blue and Gray have been serious research articles. We’ve looked at several databases in search of previously unknown information about our Civil War ancestors. Checking anything from disability records to reimbursement of property and personal possessions the databases have had the potential for lots of previously unknown info.

This month I thought we’d do something a little different. Grab your markers and let’s go on a map quest. Maps are a hot commodity in genealogy research and with good reason. Studying a map gives us insight into our ancestors daily lives. Maps reveal everything from wide open plains, and nearby water transportation to the inconvenience of traveling around a mountain range. The hardships or ease of life can be seen in a map, especially one from the era our ancestors lived.

All of this holds true for our Civil War ancestors as well. Documenting your veteran’s military service with a map is a great way to really understand where he started, where he went and maybe just how hard he struggled to stay alive.

I’ll use my Civil War ancestor for this project. The information I’ll use in mapping him comes from the many sources we’ve discussed in previous articles. The most important is having the dates your Civil War veteran served and the regiment he served with. I’m sure you have that info via family or pension records, Soldiers and Sailors Data base, Ancestry or Family Search. Next we’ll need to read the history of the regiment he served with. Just Google the regiment’s name. I’m sure you’ll come up with several options. Combining this information will give you a good idea as to where your ancestor was during his service as the war raged on. Continue reading