Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Revolutionary War Resources - selected & complete records

From: Chris@maingenealogy.net
Your readers should also know that (1) information on Revolutionary War veterans who did not receive pensions can nevertheless sometimes be found in the pension records of other soldiers; and (2) the pension files for their ancestors may be larger than what they see on HeritageQuestOnline.

An article in the January 2005 the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record gives accounts of "Revolutionary War Service Records Hidden in the Pension Files." Author William J. Parry writes of non-pensioned veterans who contributed affidavits for the applications of their fellow soldiers -- affidavits in which their own service is described. If one's ancestor was an officer, additional information might be found in the pension files of subordinates.

Parry also notes that two microfilmed versions of Revolutionary War pension files were created by the National Archives (you mentioned these two publications in your own post.) The publication numbered M805 includes only "selected records," and is the version available through HeritageQuestOnline. Parry states that the records selected represent "approximately one-third of the documents from the complete files." The publication numbered M804 includes the complete files. Additional material found in a complete file may include supplementary declarations made by the applicant; evidence of his military service; commission and discharge certificates; and affidavits made by other veterans.

One could write books on how to research our US Revolutionary War era ancestors. Thanks for pointing out Mr. Parry's comparison between M804 and M805. In my experience, the same is true for the "selected" and "complete" records of the US Civil War pensions. It is good to encourage researchers to obtain a "complete" record whenever possible.

Finding a corroborating affidavit from someone in the same service unit in an ancestor's file is quite common for the US Civil War time period, but I am not sure how common with Revolutionary War records. We tend to think of the Revolutionary War records as being more sketchy than those for the Civil War. That having been said, there remains no proven method for locating an ancestor's affidavit if it is to corroborate another's service since it would be filed with that other individual's papers. Sadly there is no cross-reference.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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