Looking to document Connecticut Revolutionary War service? Don’t forget to check other pensions…

I’ve spent the morning trying to determine if a Connecticut resident served in the American Revolution. I tried most of the usual sources – Record of Connecticut Men in the Revolution, Revolutionary War pension files – without success.

But my “last chance” source was a success. If you’re not aware, Revolutionary War pensions have been digitized and are searchable on Fold3. This search function includes everyone named in the pension, not just the person applying.

Why does that matter? Because the pension application process required the person applying to “prove” that they had served. That proof, in most cases, came from depositions from other soldiers in the same or related units. These men, in the process of documenting the service of the pension applicant, often also documented their own service in detail. For a man whose service is documented no where else, it can be a priceless resource.


The Archdiocese of Hartford archives is closed… How do I get the record I need?

You’ve been waiting for months – but the message still appears on the website of the Archdiocese of Hartford: “sacramental record and genealogical requests cannot be fulfilled at this time.” So, what do you do?

Don’t give up!  As long as you’re looking for sacramental records – such as births, deaths and marriages – you have another option. The archives holds duplicates of these records on microfilm, not the originals.

The originals are still held by the parish in which they were created. Just remember, unlike in the archives, there is no set policy that access must be granted. When you contact the office, be pleasant and be sure to allow plenty of time for your request to be completed. A donation always helps!

Thrifty Thursday: Free Access to World War I Era Newspapers

Have you considered tracing a World War I ancestor’s experience through newspaper accounts? Such accounts can include details about battles, information about the organization of regiments and numerous personal details. And better yet, for Norwich and Bridgeport, they can be free!

Chronicling America includes digitized versions of the Norwich and Bridgeport papers through the early 1920s, after the end of the War. Hopefully you can find just what you’re looking for about your ancestor!

Tuesday’s Tip: Guide to Finding the Unit of Your CT World War I Ancestor

Did your CT ancestor serve in the First World War? Not sure of the unit?

The Connecticut State Library has digitized a book that can help. Called Service Records: Men and Women in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War, 1917-1920, it lists those who served by town. Entries are alphabetized by the individual’s last name, and include their full name, their mailing address (as of around 1941 when the book was published), and a description of their service.

Those Places Thursday: Forget the state border in 1700s research

A researcher had hit a brick wall and a quick review of their tree revealed why. They’d stopped searching for the parents of a woman at the Connecticut border – and she was from Ipswich, MA.

Prior to late nineteenth century, the fastest way to travel in New England was by water. Can’t find your shoreline ancestor in state? Remember to check ports in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday’s tip: Sorry Williams researchers, Philendra and Roderick are not husband and wife…

It’s a well documented “fact” in many Ely family histories…

Sally Pratt (Williams) Ely is the daughter of Roderick Williams. And Philendra is his wife..

Except that fact is wrong. Sort of… And finding out the truth requires digging into some little used Connecticut collections.

The first is the probate file for Roderick, digitized on Ancestry as part of the Connecticut Probate Collection. Problem one: he lists Philendra as his sister, not his wife…

The second is the Connecticut Church Record Abstracts, also digitized on Ancestry, which reveal that Philendra baptized two children as hers in 1822. One of them was Sally. It’s unusual for a woman to bring the children to be baptized unless she’s a single mother…

So, was Roderick Sally’s father? Records suggest that she was biologically his niece, the daughter of his sister. Her legal status is anyone’s guess…

And why the genealogies? Being an illegitimate child, no matter how well funded, had stigma. Family historians may have been trying to protect Sally’s reputation.

Connecticut Probate Collection Tip: Don’t go by the image label!


Working on a Connecticut probate packet in Ancestry?

You’ve no doubt noticed that Ancestry labels the image with the “kind” of document. So, in theory, you should be able to go right to the will by clicking on “will” or the inventory by clicking on “administration papers.” If they were labeled correctly…

Unfortunately, in this case, they weren’t. The petition page is actually the last page of the inventory. And the will? It was filed under a petition paper…

Lesson learned: don’t rely on labels!