Ways to Determine if your Ancestor served in the
If you are doing genealogy research, obtaining military pension & service records is an important and very beneficial way to obtain a lot of genealogy information and records about your ancestor. Spanish American War Pension Records typically have birth dates, addresses of next of kin, medical information, proof of marriage, proof of children's births, a summary of military service, and death certificates.
Different Ways to Find if your Ancestor Served:
- Check the searchable databases of online state rosters.
- Ancestry.com Resources
- Check the Military Pension Index which includes Spanish-American War veterans. (Free Trial) This index is also available on the National Archives (NARA) Microfilm Publication T288, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. The pension index includes veterans who served in the regular army, state volunteers who were called into federal service, U.S. volunteers (e.g., Rough Riders), regular U.S. Navy, temporary naval personnel, naval militia, U.S. Coast Signal Service, and U.S. Marine Corps. Use info from the pension index to Order Pension Records
- Search the
US Federal Census Records. To find your Spanish-American War veteran in the Federal Census, use the
Free Trial. Offline, census microfilm may be ordered from the Family History Centers for a fee and is usually available at some local libraries.
- The 1910 US Census lists military personnel stationed in China, Cuba, Guam, Philippine Islands, Puerto Rico, Samoan Islands and U.S. Naval Forces.
- The 1930 Federal Census lists veterans and pensioners.
- Check the newspaper of his locality during the war. Sometimes during the War, there were articles about the local men and their units. Historical newspapers are available online at Historical Newspapers, and are sometimes available at the library or historical society.
- Ask an older family member. You may be surprised at what they can tell you about the military service of family.
- Locate your ancestor's obituary. Many times, a veteran's service record is listed. Write or call the local library where your ancestor died. Some libraries will do newspaper obituary look-ups if you know an approximate death date.
- Locate his tombstone. Many times a veteran's regiment is written on his tombstone. His place of burial should be listed on his Death Certificate. If you don't live near the cemetery, you can contact Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness to do a lookup for you.
- Ask the Historical Society located in your ancestor's county for unit histories. Pennsylvania Historical Societies
- Check local history books from the area where the veteran lived. Family & Local Histories are online at Ancestry.com, and may also be found in local libraries.
- Check the
state archives for National Guard or State Militia records.
- It is possible that there could be spelling variations and misspellings, or that your ancestor may have crossed county or even state lines to enlist.
To Order Military Records from NARA or the Veterans AdministrationOrder from NARA or the Veterans Administration
Learn which repositry holds your ancestor's pension records and learn how to order them.
Spanish American War Pension Records typically have birth dates, addresses of next of kin, medical information, proof of marriage, proof of children's births, a summary of military service, and death certificates. To learn how to send away for pension records What you receive is variable. It can be anything from 4 pages with little info to hundreds of pages listing everything from physical description, marriage certificates, names of parents and children, and letters.
Most of the information about a soldier is in his Service records. According to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), such records document enlistment/appointment, duty stations and assignments, training, qualifications, performance, awards and medals, disciplinary actions, insurance, emergency data, administrative remarks, separation, discharge, retirement, and other personnel actions .
The useful genealogical data you might learn from service records could include the individual's full name, rank, age, physical description, marital status, occupation, city of birth, and place of residence at enlistment.
Pension records represent the greatest reward for genealogy research, especially if your military ancestor served prior to the twentieth century. To get a pension, the veteran had to go through a lengthy application process. The federal government kept a pension file on every applicant.
Pension files contain all the paperwork associated with the application, including any supporting documentation. From these files you might learn some or all of the following: the applicant's name, spouse's name, rank, military unit, length of enlistment, and residence at time of application. There may also be children's names, names of deceased wives, physical description, medical records and marriage license. When a widow applied for a pension in the name of her husband, she was required to submit evidence to prove her marriage; this often included the names of any children living with her at the time.
Pension records were carefully compiled when a veteran applied for benefits on grounds of injury, illness, or disability (later, veterans could also receive benefits based on age) or when the mothers, fathers, widows, and minor children of veterans similarly applied for benefits. Pension records typically include the application forms, proof of marriage, proof of children's births, a summary of military service, and usually death certificates.
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Military Soldier Pension Index 1861-1934
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