Saturday, August 31, 2019

2019 #52Ancestors: Week 9 - "At the Courthouse"

For Week 9's theme of "At the Courthouse," we're going to be looking at a particular kind of court record that can be a wealth of genealogical information, and one that is often overlooked: Revolutionary War pension records.

On several occasions between 1776 and 1867, Congress enacted legislation that allowed veterans, their widows, and their orphaned children to apply for government pensions in exchange for their (or their relative's) service during the Revolutionary War. Each act after 1776 expanded on the benefits received by the veterans and their families.

In order to establish that the people applying for the pensions truly were entitled to the pension benefits, they had to appear in court and give testimony about such details as when and where they served in the continental army, which company they were in, and who commanded it. Widows and children of the veterans had to provide additional information, such as the date and location of their marriage, the date and location of their spouse's death, and the date and location of their own births. Occasionally they would be required to bring witnesses to attest to these facts, and to provide additional evidence that they were who they said they were.

Because birth, marriage, and death records were unreliable at best during this time, pension records can be an incredibly valuable source for vital information. As an example, we're going to examine the Revolutionary War pension record for John Wright, my 4th-great-grandfather. I was lucky enough to find his transcribed pension record online, which can be viewed at this link.

From this particular record, we find the following information:

  • John Wright served in the 3rd Virginia Regiment and saw a number of battles, as well as the Siege of York Town. He witnessed Corwallis surrender to Washington.
  • He was married to Elizabeth Walker on October 5, 1789 by the Reverend George Morris, at the home of her father.
  • Elizabeth Walker's father was named William Walker, and he lived in Goochland County, VA at the time of John and Elizabeth's marriage.
  • John was living in Fluvanna County, VA at the time of their marriage, and was living in Rockbridge County, VA at the time of his death.
  • John died on May 26, 1836 at the home of David Little.
  • Elizabeth had a sister named Mary Walker, who married a Humphries.
  • John and Elizabeth had a son named Lewis Wright who served in the War of 1812, and died prior to the deaths of his parents.
  • Elizabeth died in March of 1846.
  • John and Elizabeth were survived by the following children: Nancy, wife of Thomas Bird of Allegheny County, VA; Fanny, wife of Samuel Frasier of Rockbridge County, VA; Eliza, wife of Henry Frasier of Rockridge County, VA; Maria, wife of William Thomas of Bath County, VA; Matilda, wife of Andrew McFarland; and Patty Gillespie (husband's name unknown).
As you can see, this pension record offers a wealth of genealogical information that might otherwise have been lost to time. They are an amazing resource!

~ ~ ~

My descent from John Wright and Elizabeth Walker is as follows:

John Wright (1757 - 1836)
4th great-grandfather

Matilda Wright (1810 - 1870)
Daughter of John Wright

Sophia Lavinia McFarland (1841 - 1881)
Daughter of Matilda Wright

Ella May Lovejoy (1879 - 1952)
Daughter of Sophia Lavinia McFarland

Harold Warren Kessinger (1920 - 2012)
Son of Ella May Lovejoy

Joseph Wayne Kessinger (1958 - )
Son of Harold Warren Kessinger

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Joseph Wayne Kessinger

~ ~ ~

Saturday, August 17, 2019

2019 #52Ancestors: Week 8 - "Family Photo"

I had trouble choosing just one family photo to write about for Week 8's theme. So as a compromise, I chose to write about a wonderful app that I've been using to preserve family photos - Photomyne.

This video from Photomyne shows how you can scan photos and information to them with your mobile device:

Photo scanned with Photomyne, with
writing on the back added in the
Photomyne allows you to scan multiple photos at once with your device's camera, and will then crop, color correct, and adjust perspective for the photos that you scanned. You also have the option to sort the photos into albums, add information about who is in the photo, when it was taken, and where it was taken. You can even add a voice memo if you wish.

Photo scanned with Photomyne,
with all information sections
One of the most valuable features of Photomyne is its option to save the photos to your phone or cloud storage program with added details. With older photos, I often use this feature to include anything that was written on the back of the photo. In the case of photos where I know specific details, such as the date and location where it was taken, I make sure to add as many of those details as possible.

The app also has an interesting feature that adds color to black-and-white or sepia-colored photos. I have tried it on a few, and it works surprisingly well for an automated feature. Usually colorization is a process that takes many hours of painstaking work on Photoshop.

This app makes it incredibly easy to take albums full of precious memories and not only preserve them for generations to come, but also to share them with the rest of your family and friends. I think about all of the family photos like these that might be packed away in an album in someone's attic, and it makes me want to scan all of the old photos that I have collected over the years and share them with the world using this app. You never know - a photo of some distant relation of your great-grandmother's that means little to you might be a treasured find to someone who has never seen a photo of their own great-grandmother.


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