Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Start At The Ending

After I found a couple copies of Civil War Documents that belonged to my paternal 3rd great-grandfather, I was motivated to dive into some major research.  But, where should I start?  Civil War records, immigration records, censuses, death records, Irish records???  I wanted to know so much and it was a little overwhelming.

I decided to start with a little digging on Ancestry.com.  I knew a little about my 3rd great-grandfather, but very little.  One of the things that popped up was a Civil War Pension Index.  I had heard a lot about them and knew they were a great source of information, but how lucky could I get?

The U.S. federal government granted pensions to Union veterans of the Civil War and to their widows, minor children, and dependent fathers and mothers.  At first glance, the index had my 3rd great-grandfather and -grandmother's names, his infantry number, and two file dates.  Two?  Why two?  On closer look, the first one was filed on 2 September 1890, over 13 years before he died.  This filing was marked as "invalid."  The second filing was done by my 3rd great-grandmother on 21 May 1904, less than a month after he died.  No mention whether or not either was accepted.  What happened during the Civil War that left my 3rd great-grandfather an "invalid" and why did it take him 25 years to file for a pension?  Did they really need that money, and if so, why?

Also listed were two application numbers and two certificate numbers.  Armed with these, I decided to head over to the National Archives web site.  After clicking around, I found an online form and was able to order the records.  What could I lose?  I had very little expectations even though I read that 100 or more pages is pretty common for this type of record.  The claims could be complex, especially if the claimant had difficulty proving the claims.

It took a couple of months, but I finally got the email that I had been waiting for - the records I wanted were found!  There it was in print, over 100 pages of information pertaining to my 3rd great-grandfather.  

Now I know where I'm starting...right where my 3rd great-grandmother left off three weeks after the death of my 3rd great-grandfather.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Rally Day Pins

These two pins belonged to my paternal aunt.  They are the same, this is just a front and back view.  On the front, Jesus is speaking to two children.  On the back, the name of the company that made the buttons, Abingdon.  I did an Internet search and I quickly found that my aunt probably got these from a vacation bible school she attended in the 1960's.  They must have been special or held some meaning for her, because she kept them for the rest of her life.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Found: A Watch And A Dog

Every once in a while I find some miscellaneous things in a box.  Like this dog charm and watch.  They belonged to my paternal aunt. The charm reminded me of just how much of a dog lover she was.  Now I ask myself, "What do I do with them?"  I have been gathering an interesting collection of odds and ends from many different ancestors.  This little dog may have had some sentimental value to my aunt.  She may have worn the watch on many occasions.  I will add them to my crazy collection of jewelry, buttons, pins, and religious medals.  When I make it through all of the boxes of stuff I have, my goal is to put everything in some sort of order.  In the mean time, I'll be scrutinizing photos to see if she is wearing either one of these, and I'm looking forward to see what other treasures I'll find in this box.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Fishing Awards

The R.J. Schaefer Fishing Contest began in 1946 and ended in the mid-1970's.   It was run by F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company and was very popular with fishermen along the east coast of the United
States.  Fishing club and individual awards were given.  The fishing clubs competed with each other for the sum total of the weight of all the fish entered by it's members.  Anglers were awarded points for each fish weighed on official scales.  For instance, one point per pound would be awarded for bass that were caught from a boat, and two points per pound would be awarded for bass that were caught from the shore.

I have found two awards that belonged to my paternal grandfather.  They are both most valuable angler awards from 1971.  I know that my grandfather loved to fish and I imagine the contest would have fuled his passion.  I would love to know how he received the two awards.  I believe these were awarded for individual fish that he caught that were over a certain amount of poundage.  Maybe someday I will find the documentation that came with them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Lost And Found

As I was growing up, I heard stories about these mysterious Civil War papers that belonged to one of my paternal ancestors.  For someone who was obsessed with learning about the Civil War, it was very tantalizing.  My paternal aunt had them, but I had never seen them.  After she died, it was thought that they were lost forever.  But, after her husband died, I found them.  They were stored with some other papers that belonged to her.  What a find!  At first I was a little disappointed because they were copies of the actual papers, but once I started reading them, I was amazed at all of the information that they contained.

The papers belonged to my paternal third great-grandfather.  One announced his appointment to sergeant and the other was his discharge paper.  Where do I start?  I want to go line by line, fact by fact, and dig into every detail.  He was in Company I of the 215th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers and was promoted to Sergeant 12 days after the end of the Civil War.  He was discharged at Fort Delaware just over three months after that.  He was born in Omar, Ireland.  He was 30 years old when he was discharged from the army.  He stood five feet, seven inches tall.  He had a light complexion, blue eyes, and black hair.  He was a welder by trade.

And then the questions.  What role did he play in the Civil War?  How many battles did he fight, if any?  What did he do to get promoted to Sergeant?  Why was he discharged at Fort Delaware, an island that housed Confederate prisoners?  Why did he come to the United States from Ireland?  Where did he work as a welder?

It looks like I have a lot of digging to do.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal uncle taken in the home of his maternal aunt in Galena, Maryland in 2000.  He was always ready with his camera.  At the time this photo was taken, he was 45 years old.

James Odgers
1954 - 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal uncle striking a goofy pose in the home of his maternal aunt in Galena, Maryland in 2000.  He was 45 years old.

James Odgers
1954 - 2007

Monday, April 16, 2018

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal uncle taken in the home of his maternal aunt in Galena, Maryland in 2000.  He was 45 years old.

James Odgers
1954 - 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal uncle taken in his living room in New Castle, Delaware in the 1970s.  I wonder what was in the bag.

James Odgers
1954 - 2007

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Remember the Living

While working on a family tree, it's so easy to get wrapped up in how far back one can trace their ancestry.  We would all like to know if we have roots dating back to the colonial days and from which country did our ancestors emigrate, if at all.  There seems to be a deep-rooted need in some of us to know where we come from, like it defines who we are today.  But sometimes that leads us to overlook the obvious - those family members who are right here with us today.  How many times
have I said, "I wish I had asked...while so-and-so was still alive?"

That's why it is so important to record EVERYTHING.  Get your family together as much as possible.  Get photos of everyone when you can.  Ask those questions you have.  Keep all those birth announcements, graduation announcements, wedding invitations.

Recording family history that is happening now may be more important than researching the past.  One day our great-grandchildren will be thankful that we did.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

High School Keepsakes

I love when I come across keepsakes, something little that holds some sentimental value to a family member who is no longer with us.  This is a great example.  My paternal uncle kept his high school cafeteria pass and his high school Driver Education Certificate.  They must have been a reminder of some good times he had in high school.  For someone like me, it gives a glimpse into my family member's life.

Bills of Repairs September 24,1904

 This cover sheet is found in the Civil War Pension File of my paternal third great-grandfather.  The bills were submitted by a pension atto...