Receiving loads of old papers and photos has been a godsend for me as a family historian, but sometimes they come in like a tsunami and I don’t have time to properly pore over everything before I must turn my attention back to work and the rest of my life. So it was with me and a couple of boxes of family-history-related items I brought back with me from my grandmother’s house after talking with her for several hours about family history. Normally I would have taken months to go through every last tidbit I brought back, but before I had a chance to do that I travelled to my grandmother’s home town (Wadena, Minnesota) for 10 days and I came back with enough data and scans to occupy me for a couple of years.
Among the items I brought back from my visit with Harriet were a number of photos and written notes that Harriet herself had inherited from her aunt Eva (Scott) Martes, who died on November 22, 2006. Eva was the younger sister of my great-grandmother Gertrude (Scott) Askew (1897–1980). I had time to scan a few hundred photos and sheets of notes before I had to set the project aside to prepare for my Wadena visit. Continue reading →
World War I—the “war to end all wars”—was ended by an armistice that took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. One year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson gave an address to the nation on what had come to be called Armistice Day in the U.S. and allied countries. In 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday, and in 1954 the day was renamed “Veterans Day” to honor all veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, not just those who served in World War I.
My family has a proud heritage of serving our country. My father Keith V. Black served in the Navy immediately before the Vietnam War. My paternal grandfather Vernon C. Black served in the Army in Europe during World War II. My maternal grandfather William E. Prettyman served in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific during World War II. And many, many more of my ancestors and relatives have served in the many wars our nation has engaged in over the past 400 years.
I present this list to honor their service and their memory.
Exactly one hundred years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed with Germany to cease fighting the Great War. One year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be called Armistice Day, to honor those who fought in World War I. More than three decades later—after the “war to end war” gave way to World War II and then the Korean War—the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, and was intended as a day to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
In today’s post I’d like to honor all of my family members who served in defense of our country.
This is a revised version of a post I did five years ago. Since then, some family members have died, and I’ve discovered twenty-seven additional family members who served our country. Note that I have included only relatives who served the United States or the colonies that would eventually become the United States.
In the first installment of this series, I introduced my fourth-great-grandfather, Hiram Scott, who died in New Orleans while serving in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. This Memorial Day, I want to honor his memory by learning as much as I can about him, with a eye towards uncovering his birth family and his early life. If you haven’t yet read that first post, you should read it now before continuing with this post.
In this second post in the series, I’ll lay out, examine, and document everything I know about the life of Hiram Scott, so that I’ll have a broad base of information to use when evaluating potential evidence for Hiram’s early life and birth family. Continue reading →
Unlike Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. veterans, Memorial Day was specifically set aside for remembering and honoring those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice and died while in military service. For this Memorial Day, I want to honor the memory of one of my direct ancestors who died while serving his country in the U.S. Civil War: Private Hiram Scott of Company C of the Illinois Infantry Volunteers.
Hiram Scott is my fourth-great-grandfather. He was the great-grandfather of the the great-grandmother I was lucky enough to know for the first fourteen years of my life—Gertrude Scott Askew.
Hiram Scott fought for the Union Army along with the three of his sons who were old enough to serve: Horace, Willard, and James. Willard and James survived the war, while Horace “contracted disability which resulted in his death” five years later. Their father, Hiram, however, never returned home from the war. To this day he remains buried where he died—in New Orleans, a long way from his home and family in northern Illinois.
Horace’s birthplace, parents, siblings, and pretty much the entire first half of his life have been an enduring mystery for me. Over the past three decades I have repeatedly hit brick walls while trying to uncover the details of his birth and the first half of his life, including the identities of his parents and siblings. What little I information I have found about his early years has been sparse, often speculative, and frequently contradictory. In this post, I want to do my best to break though this brick wall to learn about Hiram Scott, an ancestor I want to remember and honor on this Memorial Day. Continue reading →
Ninety-five years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed with Germany to cease fighting the Great War. One year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be called Armistice Day, to honor those who fought in World War I. More than three decades later—after the “war to end war” gave way to World War II and to the Korean War—the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, and was intended as a day to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
In today’s post I’d like to honor all of my family members who served in defense of our country.
In previous posts, I’ve written about Horace Scott’s (my 3rd-great-grandfather) service in the Civil War, and discovering that his father Hiram Scott (my 4th-great-grandfather) enlisted as well, after Horace fell ill from tuberculosis in 1864. Hiram joined his son in Company C of the 95th Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers, where he contracted and died of dysentery. From Hiram’s wife’s claim for her widow’s pension, I learned that Horace had a younger brother (Winfield) who was too young to fight in the war and who stayed home in Illinois with his mother.
While looking for more information on Horace and Hiram’s service in Company C of the 95th Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers, I came across the Illinois Civil War database, hosted by the Illinois State Archives. Using this database, I discovered that there were not just two Scotts in Company C of the 95th Regiments, but four. There was also a 19-year-old Willard J. Scott and an 18-year-old James H. Scott. Were these yet more brothers of Horace? Scott is not an uncommon name, so I compared the details of the four records (below) to see if I could see any patterns. Continue reading →
The more I research our family members who were alive during the Civil War, the more I realize just how profoundly the Civil War affected our family. The number of family members who enlisted and fought in the War is impressive enough on its own, but when I tally the number of ancestors who came back wounded or chronically ill, later dying of their injuries, or who died while at war and never returned home, I begin to realize just how horrible that war really was. By anymeasure, the Civil War was the most devastating war this country has ever experienced: 625,000 deaths (some say as many as 850,000 dead), an average of 600 deaths every day, and a full 2% of the total population killed (not just 2% of fighting-age men; but 2% of the total of men, women, children, the elderly, everyone). Furthermore, two-thirds of these Civil War deaths were due not to combat, but to disease—dysentery, malaria, cholera, pneumonia, measles, typhoid, and tuberculosis were the deadliest of these diseases, causing slow, lingering deaths.
I’ve written several posts about my 3rd-great-grandfather, Horace L. Scott, including one about how he contracted tuberculosis in 1864 (from which he died in 1870) while taking part in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. Horace’s tuberculosis became active around April 1, 1864, and as a result, he was unable to do much besides very light work for the rest of his short life. While he was too sick to fight or even do much work, he was not given a medical discharge. He continued with his unit for another 16 months until he had served his full three years. But last night I discovered he wasn’t the only member of his family fighting in the war.
While working on a future post about some of the earliest family photos I’ve seen, I had a revelation that I’d like to share with you. One of the most exciting discoveries that I can make when going through old family photos is finding a photo of an ancestor for whom I thought no photos existed. My 3rd-great-grandfather, Horace Scott (the subject of two previous posts: here and here), is one individual whose face I figured I’d never have the chance to see. He was born in 1842, he went off to fight in the Civil War at age 20, he caught tuberculosis two years later in 1864, he was discharged a year later, and he lived only five more years, dying of tuberculosis in 1870 at the age of 28.
I had no photos of Horace Scott that I knew of, and I didn’t expect to ever find any, although I figured I’d keep looking just in case. Continue reading →
In a previous post, I introduced Horace L. Scott, my 3rd-great-grandfather (he was the paternal grandfather of my great-grandmother, Gertrude (Scott) Askew). In that first post, I laid out all I knew about Horace at that time. Horace was born in New York, around 1842, and he served in the Union Army during the Civil War. While serving in that war, he appears to have either been injured or become ill, as he applied for an invalid’s pension in 1870, five years after the war, when he was only about 28 years old.
Sometime between 1870 and 1875, Horace died and was buried in Alden, Illinois. His widow Caroline and their children moved to Deer Creek, MN, to live with her parents. Was Horace wounded in the Civil War? Was that the cause of his status as an invalid after the war? Did it contribute to his premature death?
I applied to the National Archives for copies of Horace’s Civil War service records and any pension applications that he, his widow, or his children might have filed. I recently received two packages from the National Archives with 65 pages of scanned documents about Horace. One of the packages contained a copy of Horace’s Civil War Military Service File, and the other package contained a copy of his Full Civil War Pension File. Among the pages of these scanned documents were answers to my questions about his infirmity and death.