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Articles:

TRACING YOUR PENNSYLVANIA CIVIL WAR ANCESTOR
Submitted by Dan Cashin

1. Family Traditions and Locations:  Your #1 starting point.
-  (1) Ask ALL your relatives if they know ANYTHING. Especially the older folks. The smallest fact can be the key to your search.
-  (2) WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!  In an orderly, sequential manner. Patterns can arise.
-  (3) SHARE IT  with your other relatives. Sometimes your findings bring back memories. I found not only my GG Uncle in the Union Navy but got his picture from a relative I didn't previously know. There are three cousins now aiding my search that I met through this endeavor.

2. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-1865 by Samuel P. Bates:  Lists ALL soldiers in their respective regiments and companies. Has regimental history and company recruitment areas.
-  On line:
. . Making of America (MoA):  University of Michigan:  Use the BROWSE option at:  www.hti.umich.edu/m/moa/
-  Libraries:
. . Chester County Historical Society:  225 N. High St, West Chester, PA:  610-692-4800:  www.chestercohistorical.org
. . Civil War Library and Museum:  1805 Pine St, Philadelphia, PA :  215-735-8196:  www.netreach.net/~cwlm/
. . Fort Delaware Society Library:  Delaware City, DE:  302-834-1630:  www.del.net/org/fort/
. . Montgomery County Historical Society:  1654 DeKalb Pike, Norristown, PA:  610-272-0297:  www.hsmcpa.org
. . Philadelphia GAR Museum:  4278 Griscom St, Philadelphia, PA:  215-289-6484:  garmuslib.org/
. . Union League:  Broad and Walnut Sts, Philadelphia, PA:  www.unionleague.org

3. Pennsylvania State Archives:  Has the muster roll cards of all the volunteer soldiers from Pennsylvania who joined the Union Army. Some physical descriptions and residence info. Harrisburg has actual copies for non-computer researching.
-  Civil War Veterans Card File 1861 - 1865:  www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us/archive.asp

4. General Index to Pension Files, 1861 - 1934  T288:  More than 540 rolls of 16mm film on file at the National Archives in Washington. Each card in the general index gives a veteran's name, rank, unit and term of service; names of dependents; the filing date; the application number; the certificate number; and the state from which the claim was filed. The darker cards relate to naval service. Available by custom order from the Family History Center of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
. . Family History Center:  721 Paxon Hollow Rd, Broomall, PA:  610-356-8507:  www.valleyforgefhc.org
. . National Archives:  Washington, DC
. . US Army Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA:  www.carlisle.army.mil/usamhi

5. National Archives:  NARA holds all existing Pension and Service records in their Washington DC archives. For a fee they will send you copies of the records. Files sometimes run from 1 page to over 200 pages. It's a gamble on what you receive. A separate order for each unit is required.
-  Form 85 - Pension Records. Two types:  7 page and full record ( $17.00 or $35.00 ). These are best for genealogy research.
-  Form 86 - Military Service Record. Order if no Pension Record exists ( $17.00 ). Note: If they don't find anything you do NOT have to pay. Also, Credit Card orders are processed faster.

6. National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System:  Computer searchable list of many states soldiers, both Union and Confederate. The only Pennsylvania troops available at this time are the USCT. New York and New Jersey are available.:  www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/soldiers.htm

7. Cemetery Tombstone Contract Records:  - A series of microfilm reels containing information on tombstones provided by the U.S. Government to Veterans and their spouses. May contain the unit, death date and the cemetery or family address the stone was delivered to.
. . National Archives:  9th & Chestnut Sts, Philadelphia, PA

8. 1890 Special Civil War Veterans Census:  US Census Bureau records listing Name, Address, Unit, Survivor, Disability if any. Collected by local neighborhood personnel. No workable finding aids other than digging in and reading page after page by neighborhood.
. . Ancestry.com:  Subscription web site. Free viewing at Latter Day Saint's Family History Centers.
. . Free Library of Philadelphia:  Main library on Logan Circle, Philadelphia, PA:  www.library.phila.gov
. . Genealogy.com:  Subscription web site. Free viewing at Latter Day Saint's Family History Centers.
. . National Archives:  9th & Chestnut Sts, Philadelphia, PA:  215-597-3000:  www.nara.gov

9. Roll of Honor:  Multi volume set listing all the National Cemeteries which hold soldiers who were killed or died during the Civil War. Lists their unit, death date and grave location.
. . Historical Society of Pennsylvania:  1300 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA:  215-732-6201:  www.hsp.org
. . Montgomery County Historical Society:  610-272-0297:  www.hsmcpa.org
. . Philadelphia GAR Museum:  4278 Griscom St., Philadelphia, PA:  215-289-6484:  garmuslib.org/
. . Union League:  Broad and Walnut Sts., Philadelphia, PA:  www.unionleague.org

10. Unit Histories:  Many Veterans groups after the War published their unit histories and reminiscences. The famous units still are in print. Others can be found in various libraries including:
. . Fort Delaware Society Library:  Delaware City, DE:  302-834-1630:  www.del.net/org/fort/
. . Local Historical Societies: County, town, specialty.
. . Montgomery County Historical Society:  610-272-0297:  www.hsmcpa.org
. . Philadelphia Civil War Museum and Library:  1805 Pine St., Philadelphia, PA :  215-735-8196
. . Philadelphia GAR Museum:  4278 Griscom St., Philadelphia, PA:  215-289-6484:  garmuslib.org/
. . Union League:  Broad and Walnut Sts., Philadelphia, PA:  www.unionleague.org

11. Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Army and Navy:  Official correspondence by officers. Sometimes has mention of casualties in specific battles.
-  On line:
. . Making of America (MoA):  Cornell University:  Use the BROWSE option at:  http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/
-  Libraries:
. . Chester County Historical Society:  225 N. High St, West Chester, PA:  610-692-4800:  www.chestercohistorical.org
. . Fort Delaware Society Library:  Delaware City, DE:  302-834-1630:  www.del.net/org/fort/
. . Philadelphia GAR Museum:  4278 Griscom St., Philadelphia, PA:  215-289-6484:  garmuslib.org/
. . Montgomery County Historical Society:  610-272-0297:  www.hsmcpa.org
. . Philadelphia Civil War Museum and Library:  1805 Pine St., Philadelphia, PA :  215-735-8196
. . Union League:  Broad and Walnut Sts., Philadelphia, PA:  www.unionleague.org

12. Veterans Descendants Groups: 
-  Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW):  Official heirs to the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic). A Veteran's descendant's group dedicated to preserving the memory of the Union soldiers who served during the Civil War.
. . National Organization:  717-232-7000   suvcw.org.
. . Anna M. Ross Camp:  Philadelphia GAR Museum, 4278 Griscom St., Philadelphia, PA:  215-289-6484:  annamrosscamp1.freeservers.com/
. . Sgt. Jones Bradbury Camp, Media and West Chester, PA   padeptsuvcw.101main.com/sons/149/Bradburyindex.htm
-  Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS):  Descendents of Officers who served honorably in the Union Army and Navy. suvcw.org/mollus/mollus.htm

13. Genealogy Web Forums:  There are web discussion boards dedicated to specific states, counties and towns. Participants will be more than happy to answer any questions you post on the board. In return, if you know the answer to anyone's question, don't keep it to yourself! The sense of community is what makes this work easier!
. . Pennsylvania Civil War Discussion Forum:  www.cwoodcock.com/forum/db_TalkToMeV2.cgi?forum_name=pennboard

14. Reenacting Groups:  Groups that have a special interest in a specific unit usually have complied a wealth of information about the unit that otherwise would take years to track down. These folks tend to have had relatives in that unit. They sometimes republish the regimental history. Be willing to share your findings. You can find and talk to these folks at their web sites and area reenactments, such as: Neshaminy, Whitehall, Pennypacker, Hibernia Park. Ridley Creek, Malvern, Fort Delaware, and Fort Mifflin.
Hint: try to catch the participants early in the day or at dinner. After the big battles the reenactors are pretty well tired out. Don't take a glazed look as a put-off. We REALLY do want to talk to you. Units usually camp according to the Regiments they portray. The big local organization in our area is the Mifflin Guard. Check their web site for specific units.   users.zoominternet.net/~fieldhdj/mifflin.html

15. Local Round Tables:  These are usually monthly meetings of Civil War history enthusiasts. Most usually have a speaker on a specific topic each month. Members tend to come from the same area and if this is where your ancestor came from, the chances are, there is someone who had a relative in the unit you are searching for. Also, they have a good idea of the demographics of the time and how and where your soldier lived.
. . CWRT = Civil War Round Table
. . www.civilwararchive.com/RNDTABLE/webtable.htm
. . Brandywine Valley CWRT, Meets 1st Wednesdays, West Chester, PA   www.chesco.com/~lawlerbf/bvcwrt.htm
. . Bucks County CWRT, Doylestown, PA
. . CWRT of Eastern PA, Meets 1st Tuesdays, ABE Airport Sheraton, Allentown, PA
. . CWRT of Montgomery County, Meets 1st Mondays, Normandy Farms, Norristown, PA
. . Delaware Valley CWRT, Trevose, PA
. . 1st Defenders CWRT, Kutztown, PA
. . Old Baldy CWRT, CW Museum and Library, Philadelphia, PA
. . Union Library, Hatboro, PA
. . Villanova Military RT, Villanova University   610-525-0624

16. Guide to Civil War Philadelphia:  Recently published (2004) paperback book by Richard A. Sauers from Da Capo Press (ISBN 0-306081232-0). It contains 182 pages listing libraries, museums, historical sites and anything connected to Philadelphia and the Civil War. Available in most good book shops.

18 Feb 2004