Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mary's Husband Served His Country

Continuing with search strategies, let's learn more about Mary. Today's tip is to collect every military record (and every record of any type) you can find on your subject and their immediate family. Each record provides different clues.

I was still looking for what happened to Mary Maddox Neff of Pickaway County, Ohio, after the 1860 census. I'd been looking for Mary for over 10 years, so knew more than names, but not enough. Some of the questions I pondered were:
  • Had I located the right family in the 1860 census? The names George and Mary Neff were not a unique combination.
  • Was she married to the George M Neff who served in Company G, 113th Infantry Regiment, Ohio, during the Civil War?
  • Did her George possibly die during or after the War?
  • If George died, did Mary remarry?
  • Did George or Mary collect a Civil War pension?
My next step was to research George M. Neff, the Civil War soldier.

Military records can be a gold mine of information and should always be collected when available. Pension files are frequently rich in genealogical information. By learning the available records, you'll know what to look for. I wanted to find any Civil War pensions for this couple.

Remember to use Ancestry Categories and Family Search Collections to go straight to military records. Fold 3, which is another Ancestry-owned site, has some military records that are not available elsewhere.

Searching on George M Neff who served from Ohio gives a reasonable number of Civil War records to review, but there were no pension files.

One of the problems with filters is that not every record set is tied to dates and locations. You can miss a record by setting the wrong filter. Experiment with filters to see what is returned with different settings.

In this case, limiting the Military service location to exactly Ohio was the wrong strategy. I had to change that filter to be broad, rather than exact. That basically removed the filter, but would prioritize Ohio records, if the location had been used.

By removing the Ohio limitation, there are 59 pension files of possible interest. These images are only index cards, but they are good clues. Clicking into the pensions, then adding a spouse with the name Mary prioritizes the search results.

The very first result happens to be the Ohio soldier I'm looking for, but the pension was filed from Iowa, an unexpected location. Here are some new clues. Now I know that the soldier George M Neff was indeed married to a woman named Mary. I still have to determine if it is the right Mary. Did my couple move to Iowa?

The card from Ancestry is hard to read. What could I learn at Fold 3? Is the complete pension file available? Remember to use every site you can to collect records. Fold 3 had a different view, but not the complete file.

What do these cards reveal? 

George M Neff applied for a pension from Iowa on May 22, 1890, and he was approved. He died on October 6, 1897. His widow, Mary M Neff applied in October, 1897, for a widow's pension and she was approved. Her death date is not recorded in the index, but would be in her pension file.

The Civil War pension index cards were the breakthrough in my search for Mary.

No comments:

Post a Comment