FamilySearch Update: New Records Added

FamilySearch added over 2 million new images or indexed records this week to its pilot Record Search databases this week. Thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers who help bring these projects to the Web for public access. Patrons can search these databases for free online at FamilySearch.org or directly at http://pilot.familysearch.org.

Project Name: WWII Draft Reg. Cards
Indexed Records:
Digital Images: 1,651,453
Type: Images
Comments: Updated – 1 new state (Ohio)

Project Name: 1930 Mexico Census
Indexed Records: 314,548
Digital Images: 104,849
Type: Index
Comments: Updated – 1 new state (Coahulia)

Project Name: West Virginia Vital Records (Marriages)
Indexed Records: 306,782
Digital Images:
Type: Index
Comments: Updated – 14 new counties

Project Name: Lima, Peru Civil Registration
Indexed Records:
Digital Images: 134,664
Type: Waypt
Comments: Updated – User guidance added

Project Name: 1885 Florida State Census
Indexed Records:
Digital Images: 8,468
Type: Waypt
Comments: New collection

Project Name: 1935 Florida State Census
Indexed Records:
Digital Images: 36,019
Type: Waypt
Comments: New collection

Project Name: 1945 Florida State Census
Indexed Records:
Digital Images: 51,686
Type: Waypt
Comments: New collection

Hispanic Resources Online

While neither my husband nor I have Hispanic roots, I’ve been on the lookout for online resources for this ethnic group for several reasons. The first is because of a request of a good friend and co-worker, who is trying to find her paternal grandfather’s Mexican roots. The second is due to the fact that one of my students in my current Online Genealogy class is Latina. Because Hispanic Heritage month (September 15 – October 15) just ended, I’ve seen several resources highlighted recently, and thought I would share them with those who may be researching south of the border.

RootsTelevision.com has a new video, “Hispanic Research Series at the Family History Library.” A reference consultant, library volunteer, and patron are interviewed at the FHL, speaking in both English and Spanish, sharing the wealth of information that is available at the library and at its local branches, the Family History Centers. In addition, there is also a Hispanic Roots Channel at RootsTelevision; just look for the icon on the right side of the main page that has a colorful tree against a black background. Currently, there are four videos in this channel. Besides the one mentioned above, there is an interview with George Ryskamp, author of Finding Your Hispanic Roots, a family story shared by Carmen Deedy, and an interview with best-selling author of Rain of Gold Victor Vallisenor who tells how discovering his roots changed his life.

Ancestry.com has a sale on the book Finding Your Mexican Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide at their online store here. Normally selling for $16.95, it is available for $14.41. This book is written by George (mentioned in the above paragraph) and Peggy Ryskamp. You do not need to be a subscriber to Ancestry to order this book. Use the search engine on this page to help you find more materials on Hispanic research or those focusing on Central and South American roots.

FamilySearch Indexing is looking for 10,000 volunteers who can read both English and Spanish to help index Mexican, Argentine and other Latin American records for the Internet. Dick Eastman posted the entire news release on his blog earlier this month here. If you are able and willing to help, this project needs you!

Hispanic Resources Online

While neither my husband nor I have Hispanic roots, I’ve been on the lookout for online resources for this ethnic group for several reasons. The first is because of a request of a good friend and co-worker, who is trying to find her paternal grandfather’s Mexican roots. The second is due to the fact that one of my students in my current Online Genealogy class is Latina. Because Hispanic Heritage month (September 15 – October 15) just ended, I’ve seen several resources highlighted recently, and thought I would share them with those who may be researching south of the border.

RootsTelevision.com has a new video, “Hispanic Research Series at the Family History Library.” A reference consultant, library volunteer, and patron are interviewed at the FHL, speaking in both English and Spanish, sharing the wealth of information that is available at the library and at its local branches, the Family History Centers. In addition, there is also a Hispanic Roots Channel at RootsTelevision; just look for the icon on the right side of the main page that has a colorful tree against a black background. Currently, there are four videos in this channel. Besides the one mentioned above, there is an interview with George Ryskamp, author of Finding Your Hispanic Roots, a family story shared by Carmen Deedy, and an interview with best-selling author of Rain of Gold Victor Vallisenor who tells how discovering his roots changed his life.

Ancestry.com has a sale on the book Finding Your Mexican Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide at their online store here. Normally selling for $16.95, it is available for $14.41. This book is written by George (mentioned in the above paragraph) and Peggy Ryskamp. You do not need to be a subscriber to Ancestry to order this book. Use the search engine on this page to help you find more materials on Hispanic research or those focusing on Central and South American roots.

FamilySearch Indexing is looking for 10,000 volunteers who can read both English and Spanish to help index Mexican, Argentine and other Latin American records for the Internet. Dick Eastman posted the entire news release on his blog earlier this month here. If you are able and willing to help, this project needs you!

The Legend of Joseph Josiah ROBBINS

See images of your Civil War ancestors’ Pension Index cards.

When I was growing up, one of the favorite things I loved to hear when I being tucked in bed by my father were the old family stories. Living in Southeast Alaska in the ’70s, no one had television, unless they lived in one of the cities like Ketchikan. So good books and other printed material, oral stories, and recorded music (once our little farm outside of town got electricity) were our main forms of entertainment. How grateful I am now for that childhood!

The one story I heard occasionally was of father-and-son ancestors, Joseph Josiah ROBBINS and Charles H. ROBBINS, who had both fought in the Civil War. Ol’ Charlie had had plenty of adventures and because my grandfather remembered him (Charlie was Grandpa’s great-grandfather) and attended Grand Army of the Republic reunions with him, those adventures which provided plenty of material for good family tales were quickly passed down the generations. Charlie himself helped proliferate the legend of his father.

Joseph Josiah ROBBINS had fought in the Civil War as an old man on the side of the Yankees, went the story. He had joined up because he already had military experience fighting in the Mexican War of 1848. While out West during in 1849, he had headed towards California to hunt for gold with the other Forty-Niners, but changed his mind and returned to his family in Pennsylvania. While in Union Army, he was captured by the Rebs and incarcerated in the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Conditions there were so terrible, that Joseph had gone blind from scurvy. In an interview by a reporter from a local paper not long before his death in early 1934, Charlie told of how his father had been a participant in a prisoner exchange, and thus had been returned to the Union Army. He had lived to be 99 years old.

Nine years ago this month, I sent off to the National Archives for a copy Joseph’s pension application. I believe I spent a total sum of $20.00 (those were the days!). I received 25 legal-sized photocopies of documents from his file, and what a treasure trove they were! First of all, they confirmed his service as a private in Company E, 58th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers from 26 September 1861 to 9 January 1865, with a little more than a year-long detachment with the 7th Massachusetts Battery. Joseph, although at age 41 would have been much older than most of the recruits, was certainly nowhere near being an old man! The records provided a first name and a death date and place of a wife we had never heard of, prior to his marriage of our ancestor. They also gave the date and place of marriage to my ancestor Marinda and confirmed that her maiden name also was ROBBINS (still working on how they possibly could have been related to each other!). There were all sorts of juicy tidbits including how difficult it had been for first his wife (who would have also been elderly during that time), and later his son and daughter-in-law, Ben Franklin and Helena (SWEET) SKINNER ROBBINS, to care for him in his elder years, blind and senile as he was. There were no nursing homes in those days, no respite care, no traveling nurses or Hospice services to assist the family.

The pension records confirmed that Joseph was indeed blind, and that it was related to his military service; but it lists in detail how that disability came to be. While Joseph was at Cliffburne Barracks in Washington, D.C. in early June 1864, he was hospitalized at Satterlee Hospital for fainting, bleeding from the nose, and chronic inflammation of both eyes. His biography in History of Manistee, Mason, and Oceana counties, Michigan…, which as far as I can determine, corroborates with all sworn statements in his pension records, describes the cause as sunstroke. A week after he was discharged at Chapin’s Farm, Virigina, he sought out both a doctor and a lawyer in Philadelphia and applied for his first Invalid Army Pension, stating that he had “lost almost the entire sight of both eyes rendering him unfit to follow his occupation,” which was farming. The pension records give a clear picture of the difficulties that Joseph and his family members had because of his disability from the time he returned home from the war until his death in Newfield Township, Oceana County, Michigan on 27 July 1905. He was 84, not 99, as son Charlie claimed.

Nowhere in his pension records is there any mention of capture, imprisonment, or a prisoner exchange. There is also no evidence that he served in the War with Mexico; but then, it’s not likely that information would show up in these records. Their purpose was to determine that Joseph had become disabled through his military service during the Civil War, and that he deserved a pension, as did his widow Marinda, after his death. Attempts I’ve made to verify possible service during the War with Mexico have led nowhere. In the Civil War Prisions database maintained by the National Parks Service, I have not been able to find Joseph, even though I’ve used a variety of spellings, first and last name combinations, and initials.

I believe that Joseph’s story was confused in his son Charles’ elderly mind with other tales he may have heard from his GAR comrades, or perhaps with the tragic tale of his best friend and step-brother-in-law, Angelo CRAPSEY, whose experiences in the infamous Confederate Libby Prison caused him to go insane and later kill himself after the war’s end. So although the account of Andersonville made for a lively legend, the real story of Joseph’s service during the Civil War was a fascinating account, nonetheless!

(See a photo of Joseph’s grave here.)
—————————————
Bibliography:

History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties, Michigan … Chicago: H.R. Page & Co., 1882.

Michigan. Oceana County. County Clerk’s Office, Hart. Death Registers. Joseph J. Robbins entry.

Robbins, Bryan H., oral history. Various dates from c. 1970 through c. 1984, at Robbins homes in Alaska and Colville, WA. Transcript held in 2007 by Miriam Robbins Midkiff,
Spokane, WA.

Robbins, Robert L., oral history. Summer 1989, at Midkiff home near Deep Creek, WA. Transcript held in 2007 by granddaughter Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, WA. Mr.
Robbins is now deceased.

Unknown. “Charles Robbins is One of First to Visit Hesperia.” Photocopy of typed transcribed undated clipping, c. 1931 – 1933, from unidentified newspaper, possibly in Newaygo County, Michigan. Owned 2007 by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, WA.

United States. National Archives, Washington D.C. Civil War Veteran’s Father’s Pension Application File of John Crapsey, application no. 284,159, certificate no. 380,350.

United States. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Civil War Veteran Pension Application File of Joseph J. Robbins, application no. 60,087, certificate no. 193,978. Includes documents from Civil War Veteran’s Widow’s Pension Application File of Marinda Robbins, application no. 833,911, certificate no. 623,194.

United States. National Park Service, Washington, D.C. Civil War Prisons database, Andersonville. Online <http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/prisoners.htm>. Viewed 1 September 2007.

View the Brady Civil War Photos collection.

The Legend of Joseph Josiah ROBBINS

See images of your Civil War ancestors’ Pension Index cards.

When I was growing up, one of the favorite things I loved to hear when I being tucked in bed by my father were the old family stories. Living in Southeast Alaska in the ’70s, no one had television, unless they lived in one of the cities like Ketchikan. So good books and other printed material, oral stories, and recorded music (once our little farm outside of town got electricity) were our main forms of entertainment. How grateful I am now for that childhood!

The one story I heard occasionally was of father-and-son ancestors, Joseph Josiah ROBBINS and Charles H. ROBBINS, who had both fought in the Civil War. Ol’ Charlie had had plenty of adventures and because my grandfather remembered him (Charlie was Grandpa’s great-grandfather) and attended Grand Army of the Republic reunions with him, those adventures which provided plenty of material for good family tales were quickly passed down the generations. Charlie himself helped proliferate the legend of his father.

Joseph Josiah ROBBINS had fought in the Civil War as an old man on the side of the Yankees, went the story. He had joined up because he already had military experience fighting in the Mexican War of 1848. While out West during in 1849, he had headed towards California to hunt for gold with the other Forty-Niners, but changed his mind and returned to his family in Pennsylvania. While in Union Army, he was captured by the Rebs and incarcerated in the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Conditions there were so terrible, that Joseph had gone blind from scurvy. In an interview by a reporter from a local paper not long before his death in early 1934, Charlie told of how his father had been a participant in a prisoner exchange, and thus had been returned to the Union Army. He had lived to be 99 years old.

Nine years ago this month, I sent off to the National Archives for a copy Joseph’s pension application. I believe I spent a total sum of $20.00 (those were the days!). I received 25 legal-sized photocopies of documents from his file, and what a treasure trove they were! First of all, they confirmed his service as a private in Company E, 58th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers from 26 September 1861 to 9 January 1865, with a little more than a year-long detachment with the 7th Massachusetts Battery. Joseph, although at age 41 would have been much older than most of the recruits, was certainly nowhere near being an old man! The records provided a first name and a death date and place of a wife we had never heard of, prior to his marriage of our ancestor. They also gave the date and place of marriage to my ancestor Marinda and confirmed that her maiden name also was ROBBINS (still working on how they possibly could have been related to each other!). There were all sorts of juicy tidbits including how difficult it had been for first his wife (who would have also been elderly during that time), and later his son and daughter-in-law, Ben Franklin and Helena (SWEET) SKINNER ROBBINS, to care for him in his elder years, blind and senile as he was. There were no nursing homes in those days, no respite care, no traveling nurses or Hospice services to assist the family.

The pension records confirmed that Joseph was indeed blind, and that it was related to his military service; but it lists in detail how that disability came to be. While Joseph was at Cliffburne Barracks in Washington, D.C. in early June 1864, he was hospitalized at Satterlee Hospital for fainting, bleeding from the nose, and chronic inflammation of both eyes. His biography in History of Manistee, Mason, and Oceana counties, Michigan…, which as far as I can determine, corroborates with all sworn statements in his pension records, describes the cause as sunstroke. A week after he was discharged at Chapin’s Farm, Virigina, he sought out both a doctor and a lawyer in Philadelphia and applied for his first Invalid Army Pension, stating that he had “lost almost the entire sight of both eyes rendering him unfit to follow his occupation,” which was farming. The pension records give a clear picture of the difficulties that Joseph and his family members had because of his disability from the time he returned home from the war until his death in Newfield Township, Oceana County, Michigan on 27 July 1905. He was 84, not 99, as son Charlie claimed.

Nowhere in his pension records is there any mention of capture, imprisonment, or a prisoner exchange. There is also no evidence that he served in the War with Mexico; but then, it’s not likely that information would show up in these records. Their purpose was to determine that Joseph had become disabled through his military service during the Civil War, and that he deserved a pension, as did his widow Marinda, after his death. Attempts I’ve made to verify possible service during the War with Mexico have led nowhere. In the Civil War Prisions database maintained by the National Parks Service, I have not been able to find Joseph, even though I’ve used a variety of spellings, first and last name combinations, and initials.

I believe that Joseph’s story was confused in his son Charles’ elderly mind with other tales he may have heard from his GAR comrades, or perhaps with the tragic tale of his best friend and step-brother-in-law, Angelo CRAPSEY, whose experiences in the infamous Confederate Libby Prison caused him to go insane and later kill himself after the war’s end. So although the account of Andersonville made for a lively legend, the real story of Joseph’s service during the Civil War was a fascinating account, nonetheless!

(See a photo of Joseph’s grave here.)
—————————————
Bibliography:

History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties, Michigan … Chicago: H.R. Page & Co., 1882.

Michigan. Oceana County. County Clerk’s Office, Hart. Death Registers. Joseph J. Robbins entry.

Robbins, Bryan H., oral history. Various dates from c. 1970 through c. 1984, at Robbins homes in Alaska and Colville, WA. Transcript held in 2007 by Miriam Robbins Midkiff,
Spokane, WA.

Robbins, Robert L., oral history. Summer 1989, at Midkiff home near Deep Creek, WA. Transcript held in 2007 by granddaughter Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, WA. Mr.
Robbins is now deceased.

Unknown. “Charles Robbins is One of First to Visit Hesperia.” Photocopy of typed transcribed undated clipping, c. 1931 – 1933, from unidentified newspaper, possibly in Newaygo County, Michigan. Owned 2007 by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, WA.

United States. National Archives, Washington D.C. Civil War Veteran’s Father’s Pension Application File of John Crapsey, application no. 284,159, certificate no. 380,350.

United States. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Civil War Veteran Pension Application File of Joseph J. Robbins, application no. 60,087, certificate no. 193,978. Includes documents from Civil War Veteran’s Widow’s Pension Application File of Marinda Robbins, application no. 833,911, certificate no. 623,194.

United States. National Park Service, Washington, D.C. Civil War Prisons database, Andersonville. Online <http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/prisoners.htm>. Viewed 1 September 2007.

View the Brady Civil War Photos collection.