Friday, April 8, 2011

The American Civil War Genealogy Blog Challenge--Where Are My Paternal Bluecoats?

April 12, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Bill West of West In New England has issued "THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR GENEALOGY BLOG CHALLENGE" to mark this defining event in the life of our country.

     For years I searched for a list of Civil War soldiers on my father's side of the family tree.  Dad was a Civil War buff....we are talking an ardent enthusiast, especially once he retired.  It was his passion and he decided that he would "teach" the Civil War seminar when he was living at his retirement village.  The amount of energy he devoted to "his course" was truly remarkable.  I was on hand for the opening seminar with a little surprise for Dad.

     Once I turned my genealogy research on full throttle, Dad lamented that I had documented a "ton" of Revolutionary War soldiers in his line, but only one from the Civil War.  The gauntlet had been thrown down!

     Now, Dad's paternal side of the tree were all from England and his grandfather arrived in the US after bluecoats there.  It was all up to my Grandmother Hughes to supply a few union soldiers.  She was always proud to announce to anyone who would listen...."I'm from WEST by God Virginia!"  Certainly there must be a few civil war soldiers among her ancestors from Morgantown.

     The easy one was William Lanham Pool, Dad's maternal gg grandfather, my ggg.  I found information on William in  the Morgantown series books, the 1890 Special Census for Surviving Soldiers, Sailors And Marines, and Widows and finally his Civil War pension file.  William L. Pool served as a private and a corporal with Company I, 14 West Virginia Infantry between August 20, 1862 to May 9, 1865.

     Two more ancestors, John Oliphant VanGilder and Sampson Frum Pool were the right age to have participated in the war.  John and Sampson were my Dad's maternal great grandfathers, my gg.  There was simply no information on these two men's involvement in the civil war.  Odd, that Sampson's father, William Lanham Pool, had a record of service, but not his son.

     The research lay fallow for years until the advent of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History website.  In 2003, while I was noodling around on the site looking at the death records in Monongalia County, I happened to see that there was an archives and history section that was searchable.  

     First, I plugged in the name "John O. VanGilder" and voila, up came several pages of West Virginia Adjutant General's papers, Union Militia 1861-1862.  It was slow going reading and scrolling down the pages until I began the "happy dance".  There was our ancestor....and he was a Captain of Company 4 of the 76th Regiment of the Virginia Militia.

     With this success under my belt it was only natural that I would search again, this time for Sampson Pool.  And there he was, written Samson Pool,  he served as a private in Captain L.S. Hayes, Company B, 14th Regiment of the West Virginia Union Militia.

A surprised look on Dad's face. 
Now I wish I had taken a better photograph
of the presentation board.  Only a
small corner of it shows here.

     This new information was found a month before Dad began his seminars.  As a surprise, I decided to make a presentation board featuring the three Civil War soldiers in Dad's ancestry.  After Dad completed his first seminar, I stood up and asked the group's indulgence as I made my presentation to Dad of his civil war history.  He was surprised and pleased.

  1. 1890 Special Census for Surviving Soldiers, Sailors And Marines, and Widows, (Eleventh Census of the United States, Special Schedule), Page 1, Supervisors Distrit 168, Enumaeration District 78, # 8.
  3. Civil War Pension File, William Lanham Pool, #974,081.
  5. Core, Earl L., The Monongalia Story: A Bicentennial History III. Discord, McClain Publishing Company, Parsons, West Virginia, 1979, page 533.
  7. Pool, Sampson Frum, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, West Virginia Memory Project, West Virginia Militia Database.
  9. VanGilder, John Oliphant, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, West Virginia State Archives,  West Virginia Adjutant General's Papers, Union Militia Papers 1861-1862, Monogalia County Transcriptions 1862. (Sixth and Seventh from the bottom of the page.)
I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. All comments are welcome; however if they are inappropriate, they will not be published. 

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© 2011, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser


  1. Standing ovation, Linda! What a treat to be able to satisfy your own interests AND thrill your father.

  2. Oh, what wonderful research and memories! CLAP CLAP CLAP! Love this! Well done!

  3. BRAVO! Great detective work! AND you introduced me to a database of which I was unaware--so thank you! I have found records of a death and a marriage that fill in pieces of a family story. YAY!!

  4. Beautifully done! My favorite part is the look of surprise on your Dad's face.

  5. What a great story and solid research. Thanks for submitting this to the Challenge!