Notes from the past…

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Illustrated Family Records from National Archive Pension Files

The New England Historic Genealogical Society puts out a weekly e-newsletter, and this very interesting item was in today’s edition:

Weekly Genealogist reader Jacob Sievers of Somerville, Massachusetts, emailed me with a link to a remarkable collection of 220 illustrated family records that are part of the National Archives’ Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application files. Beginning last July, the National Archives began to contribute tens of thousands of files to Wikimedia Commons, and these images are among them. These family records were submitted as part of the documentation required for a veteran or a veteran’s family member to receive a pension, and then became permanently attached to the veteran’s file.

I was fascinated by the beauty and variety of these records. I saw illustrated family records, birth, baptismal, and memorial certificates — in English and German, hand-drawn and pre-printed. I looked at examples from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. And I thought about the people whose names were listed so carefully on the certificates and I wondered if they understood when they mailed them away that they weren’t going to be getting them back. Perhaps for years afterward people thought wistfully about the family papers they’d sent to Washington. But sending them to Washington also had the positive effect of preserving them and making them widely available today.

Here’s one example (click to enlarge):

Lots of data for some lucky researcher!

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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy Week #9: Cemeteries

Genealogists understand the full value of cemeteries and appreciate them in ways most others can’t see. Share a cemetery or cemetery experience for which you are most thankful. What makes this place special? What does it mean to you and your family history?

Chatt signThe first cemetery that I inventoried and photographed was Chatt-Jessie Cemetery in rural Hill County, Texas. My second great-grandparents Isaac Turner and Sarah Sharpe Vance and several of their children are buried at Chatt-Jessie.

I spent a couple of weekends in the summer of 2006 at this wonderful old burial ground, and perhaps what struck me most profoundly was the number of infants and young children buried here. Out more than 116 graves (several were unmarked), at least 35 are the graves of infants and children under 5 years of age. That’s about 30%.

According to the Centers For Disease Control, in 1900, the U.S. infant mortality rate was approximately 100 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (10%).

unknown infantWhy such a high infant and small child death rate in rural north Texas? Accidents and disease that today can be easily and successfully treated were often fatal over 100 years ago. Many of the Chatt-Jessie Children only lived a day or two. Some even less, as the grave at the left seems to indicate. This child didn’t even survive long enough to be named. Simply “Inf”. So sad.

I can’t imagine losing a child.


52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

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Last Week’s Research Activities

  • Research and document my findings for
  1. John Isler, Sr
  2. Ada S Kennedy
  3. George Montgomery Hibbler
  4. Easley, Tandy Walker
  5. Jessie A Kennedy
  • Update both my FreePages site and WorldConnect database and email a RootsMagic backup to my Gmail account
  • Add 2 direct-line ancestors to my research wiki
  • Week #9 post for 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy
  • Create at least 1 “Ambassador” post

Not so much research as my schedule at work has changed. I work overnight now, so I’m still trying to get my sleep schedule figured out. I did become a FamilySearch indexer volunteer for the 1940 U S Census. A lot of fun! I’m working on Texas Death Certificates right now, until April 2nd, when the Census is available to index.

Plans for this week:

  • Research and document my findings for
  1. Ada S Kennedy
  2. George Montgomery Hibbler
  3. Easley, Tandy Walker
  4. Jessie A Kennedy
  5. Lizzie Melton
  • Update both my FreePages site and WorldConnect database and email a RootsMagic backup to my Gmail account
  • Add 2 direct-line ancestors to my research wiki
  • Week #10 post for 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy
  • Create at least 1 “Ambassador” post