On this day in history, August 19, 1812, the U.S. Navy warship Constitution earned its nickname “Old Ironsides” after defeating the British Royal Navy ship Guerrière during the War of 1812. Shots rang out near the coast of Nova Scotia but, according to witnesses, the shots bounced off the sides of the ship as if it were made of iron and not wood. The Constitution proved its mighty power more than once during the war and today is recognized as America’s oldest commissioned warship. Do you have ancestors that fought in the War of 1812? A great place to begin researching is on FamilySearch.com in the database called “United States War of 1812 Index to Service Records, 1812-1815” located at https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1916219 . Ancestry’s database is called “U.S., War of 1812 Service Records, 1812-1815” and is found under the search category in the card catalog. Both are indexes of about 600,000 men that volunteered between 1812-1815 for the war effort.
This week in history in 1790, the first United States census was conducted. The census is one of the most valuable tools used to conduct genealogical research. Have you ever wondered what instructions the U.S. Marshals and the enumerators had to follow? What is the difference between “keeping house” and “housekeeper?” How the government defined things such as race, dwelling, occupation, value of personal estate or even the terms idiotic and insane? Visit the following website to read the census instructions to better understand your ancestors and maybe even unlock a mystery or two. Picture courtesy of the LOC. https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/census_instructions/
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This day in history, July 12, 1861, Wild Bill Hickok is believed to have shot and killed David McCanles in self-defense. The American Frontier, also known as the Wild West, was an area west of the Mississippi settled by our ancestors who were looking for opportunity and a piece of the American dream. Although television and legends have glorified this area, our ancestors made lives for themselves there and endured the hardships and prosperity that came along with life in the new frontier. The following libraries have extensive collections of genealogical records and books pertaining to the American West.
San Antonio Public Library - http://guides.mysapl.org/wildwest
Denver Public Library - http://digital.denverlibrary.org/cdm/photographs/
Arizona State University Library - https://libguides.asu.edu/c.php?g=264365&p=1764173
This week in history, in 1950, the United States entered combat in the Korean War. When the war ended, Korea was still divided and the death toll was over 2.5 million. Do you have American ancestors that fought in this war? The records that still exist are held at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO. Click this link https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records to begin your records request.