Saturday, July 6, 2013


Having discovered a whole bunch of distant relatives who served in the Revolutionary War, and having learned that our National Archives has copies of their military records and their pension applications and records, including widow's pension applications and records, and having them now at our fingertips to read (when I first started into genealogy, I had to look at them on a microfilm reader either in LA or in Laguna Niguel at the National Archive Branch) I must admit that I was pretty darn proud of my heritage.  And I was shocked at so much of my past can be found. 

What made it surprising was that before I started doing genealogical research, I had no idea such things existed.  It was an old friend who got me started in 1984.  I dropped by her house one day when I was in town; I don't think I had been in contact with her for maybe 10 years. 

"What have you been doing since I saw you last?" I said to her.  "Mostly genealogy," she said with a grin.  And I'll never forget what I said next:  "What's that?"  And that is where all this started.

But today I want to show you another side of what a researcher can learn.  It is nice to have famous relatives, though none of mine are famous.  But they did have their place in history, as attested by the three little stories I've been writing about my Revolutionary War ancestors.  What I think is equally important, and has more of a reason for one to laugh than reading all the military documents, is that it is possible to learn a very human side of these people, long, long years after their death.

Today I have a short bit about another of my Revolutionary War great-great-great-great grandpas, Joseph Higdon.  He was born in Maryland and he volunteered in the county of Montgomery on June 10, 1781.  After the war he moved to North Carolina, then to Tennessee and finally to Barren County, Kentucky, where he applied for his military pension.  He was required to submit a great deal of backup information to verify that he was, in fact, the same Joseph Higdon who appears on the military roll to satisfy the requirements to obtain "the benefits of the act of congress passed 7th of June, 1832."   At 74 years of age, he was an old man.

Below is a snippit of his explanation as to why he couldn't produce his discharge papers:  (Remember to click on the picture to see it enlarged.)

And in case you can't see it clearly enough, the part I am talking about that makes him a very human 4th great-grandpa, it says:  "said discharge has been lost or destroyed and cannot be produced, being of the opinion my discharge was of no further use I gave it to one of my little sons to play with and what he done with it I do not know."

Isn't it great that even this kind of record still exists?

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