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Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding an Ancestor's Civil War Service Record

Claire's Question:
My great-grandfather's (Jeremiah McCarthy) death certificate notes that he was a Civil War army veteran. A letter from my aunt (his granddaughter) many years ago related that as a young man Jeremiah was paid to be a substitute soldier. However, I can find no official proof of his service. I believe he was born (1847 approx) and resided in Bucks County, Pennsylvania prior to the war and in (Hampden County)
Massachusetts thereafter until his death (1920). Some censuses show his place of birth as New Hampshire, but I can find no proof of that
and most of his siblings were born in Pennsylvania. I have been unable to locate any official record of his service, which is needed
in order to have the VA issue a headstone for his gravesite.

Ask Olive Answer
You do not mention whether you have checked for a Civil War pension for Jeremiah. I would try to look it up for you but you did not include his wife's name.

Check the 1890 veterans schedule, if one exists for Jeremiah's location at that time.

Who supplied the information for the death certificate? Was it a knowledgeable family member, or perhaps a neighbor? Does his obituary or those of his children indicate Civil War service?

Look for records of the Hampden County GAR; and in local newspapers in Massachusetts for a mention of Jeremiah as a GAR member. Online newspapers you can check are , or

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