Saturday, July 2, 2016

Source Saturday: American Revolutionary War Sources

With Independence Day upon us, I will take this opportunity to introduce you to some resources to research your Revolutionary War ancestor. I will include a few websites, since the library will be closed on Independence Day and will reopen on July 5.

If you have a library card with the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library, there are two resources you can use that you would normally have to subscribe to...HeritageQuest Online (through NC LIVE) and Fold3 Library Edition.

Both HeritageQuest and Fold3 have the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files taken from the National Archives microfilm series M804. These approximately 80,000 application files are full of information on the military service of the individual applying. Sometimes, records from the Family Bible are included, as are marriage records, if the widow was applying for the pension. The National Archives has a descriptive pamphlet (PDF) describing what can be found in the pension files along with relevant pension laws and procedures for applying.

Before the advent of the Internet, Virgil D. White abstracted most of the pension files in a 4-volume set titled Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files. Alphabetically arranged by the applicant, with an index for other names, the entries give the name, service information, pension number, and other information. For example, the entry on Daniel Tolar reads:
TOLAR, Daniel, SC Line, S42043, appl 9 Jun 1818 a res of Craven Co NC, in 1820 sol had a wife aged 55, in Mar 1820 sol was living in Richland Dist SC & in Sep 1820 he had returned to Craven Co NC. [Virgil D. White, transcriber. Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Vol. 3, p. 3511.]
Another website with transcribed pension applications is Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements and Rosters by Will Graves and C. Leon Harris and various volunteers. Links to other Revolutionary sources can be found here, too.

Fold3 has other Revolutionary War era records besides the pensions applications. For example, the site also includes service records. Virgil White, too, indexed many of these service records in another 4-volume set titled Index to Revolutionary War Service Records. Arranged alphabetically by the soldier's name, it includes the regiment the soldier served. For example:
"CATEN, James, srv in the 1st NC Regt." [White, Index, Vol. 1, p. 451] 
White's index includes over 390,000 entries. Some soldiers may be listed more than once due to variant spellings of names and service in multiple units.

For those with African-American or Native American ancestors who may have fought in the American Revolution, Eric Grundset and others have compiled a book titled Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War. Broken down by state, each chapter gives an overview of service by African Americans and American Indians in that state followed by an alphabetical list of soldiers with source information. For example, "DOVE, WILLIAM, African American, 1790NC ("Other Free"), HAUN:journ.A:141, HEI-2, Craven Co." [Forgotten Patriots, p. 562] A review of the sources reveals HAUN:journ.A is from Weynette Haun's series (see below), and HEI-2 is Paul Heinegg's Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware online.

Once you determine the State from which your ancestor served, check to see if state resources are available to research. One newer source to review is being published by The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The Society is producing a series titled DAR Source Guides of the American Revolution. So far, New York, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts/Maine have been published in book form and as PDFs, with North Carolina available only as a PDF (the book edition should be available soon as I write this in July 2016). The library only has the first five books in the series, but will be purchasing the newer volumes in the future.

For North Carolina research, also check the Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution. This source, though incomplete, contains thousands of names for North Carolina soldiers. Published by the NCDAR in 1932, the volume has been reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Company.

J.D. Lewis has compiled a 3-volume set titled NC Patriots 1775-1783: Their Own Words. The appendices for the volumes includes alphabetical lists of soldiers and the regiment to which they belonged with some basic information (year, rank, served under, and notes).

The North Carolina State Archives MARS database includes some Revolutionary War information as well. Click the link above, then enter a name in the "Search Text" box and press search. You can also browse by clicking the Browse button beside "Class, Collection, Series". Clicking the + beside the entries opens more collections. Under "Popular Collections" for example is "Military Collections--Revolutionary War Army Accounts". Continuing to click + to expand selections will eventually bring a list of names. Clicking the name will give the source information that you can use to write to the Archives to get copies of the originals, or to add to your list of items to research when next in Raleigh.

The MARS entry may also lead to items found in Weynette Haun's transcripts of those Revolutionary era Treasurer's and Comptroller's Papers Account Books in an 18 volume series titled North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts.

MARS also has an index to Military Land Warrants for land in present day Tennessee given to NC soldiers for their service in the Revolutionary War. As part of the Secretary of State's Land Office: Land Warrants, Plats of Survey, and Related Records. To easily get a list of these land records, search MARS with "Military Warrant" in the basic search text box. Lloyd Bockstruck has indexed North Carolina Land Warrants as well as other State land grants in his book Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996).

To find other resources for researching the Revolutionary War in the library's online catalog, try subject searches using the terms:
United States History Revolution, 1775-1783
United States History Revolution, 1775-1783 Registers
North Carolina History Revolution, 1775-1783
North Carolina History Revolution, 1775-1783 Registers
Military pensions Revolution, 1775-1783

Happy  researching and Happy Independence Day!