Gustavus Gessner is another relative of the Rudolph Gessner I wrote about in the Seattle Genealogical Society’s recent Bulletin. This is an example of how popular his family was in Ohio and the Civil War years.

Grand Army Blog

Yesterday the New York Times’ Science page featured an article about J. David Hacker’s recent study that has revised upward the long-accepted casualty count of 620,000.  This is well-deserved publicity for Hacker and for Civil War History, the leading scholarly journal in our field.  Hacker’s study reminds us that numbers are politics.  The quest to determine precisely the social impact of the Civil War is nothing new, however — something Hacker readily admits.  Such estimates consumed blue-coated ex-soldiers in the late nineteenth century, and as such Hacker joins distinguished company, including Union veterans Thomas Leonard Livermore, Thomas Brown, and William Fox.

Ex-prisoners of war were particularly determined to right the record books.  Perhaps nobody was more committed to the project than Ohio Union Ex-Prisoner of War Association President Gustavus Gessner, who maintained meticulous records of the dead by corresponding with other rebel prison pen survivors. Gessner became particularly…

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Finding Philippine Insurrection Military Service Records

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In March 1899, the United States Congress authorized the Secretary of War to recruit and enlist up to 35,000 volunteers to go to the Philippine Islands to put down an uprising. More than 125,000 soldiers from California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming were involved, and over 4,000 of them died in the conflict. Two battalions of Philippine scouts and a squadron of Philippine cavalry were also involved. Soldiers from the Regular Army also served.

The National Archives and Records Administration has an alphabetical card index to Philippine Insurrection volunteer soldiers’ compiled service records. The index entries give information about the soldier’s name, rank, and unit, or units he served with. The service records referred to by the index are organized by regiment and then by soldier’s name. Details about Regular Army soldiers who served in the Philippine Insurrection will be included in other records.

The records this index refers the user to include a jacket-envelope for each soldier, labeled with his name, containing

  • card abstracts of entries relating to the soldier as found primarily in original muster rolls and returns, but occasionally in other records such as pay vouchers, and
  • the originals of any papers relating solely to the particular soldier.

A separate group of personal papers follows the compiled service records. These may include personal papers referred to in the index. These papers were accumulated by the War Department to be filed with the regular series of compiled service records. The papers were not inter-filed for one reason or another. There are no compiled service records for soldiers whose index cards contain cross-references to the miscellaneous personal papers.

Pension application files may be available from the Veterans Administration.

Finding Names in the Index

The best thing to know about finding a soldier in this record group is to know the unit or units he served with. A volunteer soldier who served during the Philippine Insurrection may not be listed in the index because he

  • may have been in Regular Army unit
  • may have used a different name, alias, a different spelling
  • proper service records may not have been made
  • his service record may have been lost or destroyed
  • there may be only vague references to the soldier in the original records

Knowing any nicknames or other variations of the soldier’s name helps. Knowing the Soundex code variations on the name may also improve search results. Good sources of name variations include personal papers, other military records, newspaper accounts of the conflict, and local histories.

NARA has fact-sheets about these records

  • M872 – Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during the Philippine Insurrection. 24 rolls.
  • T288 – General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. 544 rolls.

A microfilm copy of these indexes is located at NARA’s Pacific Alaska Region Seattle facility.

Handy Publications for Researchers

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The U. S. National Archives and Records Administration site has a some publications available online that are relevant to genealogy researchers.

The Reference Information Papers listing page has a number of interesting items for genealogists, including items such as:

These are PDF files, so you will need an appropriate reader application.

My local branch, the Seattle office of the Pacific Alaska Region, page also has good information for local or visiting researchers.

Where to Find Washington State’s Passenger Lists

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The United States government kept custom house records and passenger lists for alien, immigrant, and citizen arrivals in various locations in Washington Territory and State between 1890 and 1957.

These records constitute direct, original, and primary information about individuals entering the United States. Indirect information, such as age, sex, marital status, and destination may also appear in these records.

Copies of these records are kept at the National Archives and Records Administration’s Pacific Alaska Region facility in Seattle, Washington, where I am a professional genealogy researcher. Contact me to start a discussion about the possibilities of researching your family’s history. Likewise, if you would like more information about my genealogical research services, including information about fees, and range of materials available to research, I’d love to hear from you.

For more detailed information about these records, please see the NARA publications for:

  • M1365 — Head tax certificates of aliens arriving in Seattle, WA, 1917–1924. For passengers arriving from Vancouver and Victoria, BC. 10 rolls.
  • M1383 — Seattle, WA Passenger/Crew Lists, 1890–1957. 357 rolls.
  • M1398 — Seattle, WA Passenger Lists, 1949–1954. 5 rolls.
  • M1399 — Seattle, WA Crew Lists, 1903–1917. 15 rolls.
  • M1484 — Pt. Townsend/Tacoma, WA Passenger lists, 1894–1909. 1 roll.
  • M1485 — Seattle, WA Passenger lists from insular possessions, 1908–1917. 1 roll.

Where to Find Alaska’s Passenger Lists

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The United States government kept custom house records and passenger lists for alien, immigrant, and citizen arrivals in various locations of Alaska. Most of the surviving records for the Eagle, Hyder, Ketchikan, Nome, and Skagway offices are from before 1920, but a few include the years between 1920 and 1946.

These records constitute direct, original, and primary information about individuals entering the United States. Indirect information, such as age, sex, marital status, and destination may also appear in these records.

Copies of these records are kept at the National Archives and Records Administration’s Pacific Alaska Region facility in Seattle, Washington, where I am a professional genealogy researcher. Contact me to start a discussion about the possibilities of researching your family’s history. Likewise, if you would like more information about my genealogical research services, including information about fees, and range of materials available to research, I’d love to hear from you.

For more detailed information about these records, please see the NARA publications for:

  • M2016 — Index of alien arrivals at Eagle, Hyder, Ketchikan, Nome, and Skagway, Alaska, Jun 1906–Aug 1946.
  • M2017 — Lists of aliens arriving at Skagway (White Pass), Alaska, Oct 1906–Nov 1934.
  • M2018 — List of aliens arriving at Eagle, Alaska, Dec 1910–Oct 1938.